The connection that couples in good relationships have is often built on what John Gottman calls Love Maps. A Love Map is an intimate familiarity with your partner’s world.
Inside your brain where the love map of your partner’s life is stored is lots of information about your partner, such as what they like, how they react to things, what is important to them, how they feel about certain things and people, and what they want to do with their life.
Your Love Map about your partner is constantly updated in your interactions together and helps you both work through problems, difficulties and new challenges with understanding and support.
A detailed and complex Love Map about your partner contains information about such things as your partner’s:
- Friends, competitors and rivals
- Upcoming events that they may look forward to or dread
- Stresses and worries
- Hopes, dreams and ideas
- Past successes and failures
- Relationships with parents, siblings and family
- Hurts, fears and vulnerabilities
- Hobbies and interests
- Struggles and regrets
To build and update your Love Map of your partner, talk, talk and talk to them.
Along with the talking, remember to listen.
If you listen well, you will not interrupt, disagree or evaluate.
If you listen well, you will repeat back the gist of what your partner is sharing with you.
If you listen well, you will ask questions that show you’ve been paying attention.
Research shows that couples who have detailed Love Maps of each other have the skills they need to cope more effectively with stressful situations.
Love Maps keep you in touch with your partner and provide you with a bunch of ideas you can use to keep your relationship on track. You know what your partner likes, desires and dreams about — knowing these things helps you plan surprises, give gifts and provide timely support and encouragement.
What you can do:
- Find questions to use to build your Love Maps. There are quizzes and questions online that will make this activity fun and enjoyable.
Information adapted from: Gottman, John M. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work. Three Rivers Press: New York.