One of the most significant theories created by The Gottman Institute is the Sound Relationship House. In Dr. John Gottman’s book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” those seven principles are connected to each level or floor of the Sound Relationship House. Those levels are:
- Build Love Maps
- Share Fondness and Admiration
- Turn Towards Instead of Away
- The Positive Perspective
- Manage Conflict
- Make Life Dreams Come True
- Create Shared Meaning
And the two walls holding up the house are trust and commitment, which are essential to all relationships. The first level of the Sound Relationship House is Build Love Maps. The principle of building Love Maps is simply this: knowing the little things about your partner’s life creates a strong foundation for your friendship and intimacy.
Why Love Maps are so important
The research found that emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s worlds. This is having a richly detailed Love Map: the term for that part of your brain where you store all the personally important information about your partner’s life.
These couples made plenty of cognitive room in their minds for their relationship. They remember the major events in each other’s histories, and they keep updating their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change. They know each other’s goals in life, worries, and dreams. Without such a love map, you can’t know your partner.
From knowledge springs not only love, but the fortitude to weather marital storms. Couples who have detailed love maps of each other’s worlds are far better prepared to cope with stressful events and conflict. Partners who are already are intently aware of what each other are feeling and thinking aren’t as thrown off course by changes and stress in each other’s lives. But if you don’t start off with a deep knowledge of each other, it’s easy for your relationship to lose its way when your lives shift with the challenges and stressors that come to you over time.
How to build Love Maps
Start creating and strengthening your Love Maps today. Try to answer the following questions about each other and find out how much you know about your partner’s world.
Love Map Exercise:
- Name your partner’s two closest friends.
- What was your partner wearing when you first met?
- Name one of your partner’s hobbies.
- What stresses your partner right now?
- Describe in detail what your partner did today or yesterday.
- What is your partner’s fondest unrealized dream?
- What is one of your partner’s greatest fears or disaster scenarios?
- What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
- What is one of your partner’s favorite ways to be soothed?
- Name a person your partner dislikes.
- What is your partner’s ideal job?
- What medical problems does your partner worry about?
Asking these questions will help you develop greater personal insight and a more detailed “map” of each other’s lives and worlds. However, getting to know your partner better is an ongoing process. Updating your love maps regularly together by sitting down and catching up. Remember, the more you know about each other, the more you feel a strong connection, and the more profound and rewarding your relationship will be.
Learn how to make your relationship work in the first Gottman Relationship Coach program. Unsure which Gottman Relationship Coach product is for you? Take our quiz!
The Marriage Minute is an email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. Got a minute? Sign up below.