On Wednesday, we introduced the “Sound Relationship House Series” and explored Build Love Maps, the house’s first level. Remember: deepening your understanding of your partner’s inner psychological world and allowing them to get to know you more intimately is fundamental to strengthening the friendship in your relationship. In today’s posting, we would like to share one of Dr. John Gottman’s Love Map exercises for you and your partner to work on over the weekend. Think of it as your Gottman weekend homework assignment.

With the passage of time our priorities, goals, likes, and dislikes inevitably change. Beyond the simple in-and-outs of our everyday lives, we experience deeper changes as our life experiences evolve and transform us. To truly know your partner, it is necessary to first know yourself. With the stressors of daily life – from deadlines at work, cleaning around the house, children to take care of, finances to manage, etc – we dont always have the opportunity to make the time to ponder these important questions of self-actualization.

Dr. Gottman understands all of this and encourages you and your partner to set aside some time to consider the following questions.

This exercise is not meant to be done all at once! It is meant to be completed over time, in a relaxed and focused manner. While we encourage you to start this weekend, we hope that the conversations facilitated by this exercise last for weeks, months, and even years to come. These questions will allow you to embark upon deep and meaningful explorations of yourself while strengthening your bond with your partner, strengthening your love for one another through the intimacy created by sharing your deepest hopes and dreams! Without further ado:

Who Am I?
Questions written by Dr. John Gottman

My Triumphs and Strivings:

1. What are some of the proudest moments of your life? What kinds of trying and stressful experiences have you survived in which you felt more powerful, victorious, capable of meeting challenges?
2. How have these successes shaped our life, changed the way in which you view yourself, your goals, your dreams?
3. Did your parents show you that they were proud of you for your accomplishments? What about other important figures in your life? How did this affect your experience of feelings of pride in yourself?
4. Were you shown love and affection in your family? If not, how has this affected your relationships in your adult life?

My Injuries and Healings

1. What experiences have you had in which you have felt the deepest senses of disappointment, loss, self-doubt, hopelessness, loneliness?
2. What kinds of deep traumas have you undergone? How have you survived through them? What kinds of changes do you feel in yourself after going through these difficult times in your life?
3. How did you strengthen and heal yourself? How did you protect yourself? Did you find ways to avoid such experiences in the future?
4. How do you think that these experiences have affected your relationships? Your relationship with your current partner? What do you want your partner to understand about you and your past injuries?

My Mission and Legacy

1. What do you feel is the purpose of your life? Its meaning? What do you want to accomplish? What is your greatest struggle?
2. What kind of a legacy do you want to leave behind when you are gone?
3. What kinds of significant goals do you still yearn to realize to feel that you have lived a full life?

Who I Want to Become?

1. Describe the person that you want to become.
2. What kinds of struggles have you faced in trying to become that person?
3. What internal demons are you fighting? What demons have you conquered?
4. What would you most like to change about yourself?
5. What do you want your life to be in five years?

When you and your partner work through this exercise this weekend, set aside a time when you are both relaxed and uninterrupted. Turn off the TV. Turn off your cell phones. While this exercise is meant to inspire conversation, it is a long, complex conversation that should not be had all at once. It is a conversation that should be ongoing throughout your lives as you change and dream and grow together!

More in The Archives
Weekend Homework Assignment: Who Am I?

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.