According to John M. Gottman PhD., a leading researcher in the field of couple's therapy, at the very foundation of a happy and successful relationship lies marital friendship. It is simply not enough to love each other, or be romantically attracted to each other, to have a strong relationship.
What is also very important is the quality of our friendship, which includes the following several components; how much you know your partner, whether you think and feel positively about them and your relationship, and whether you respond to and create opportunities for connection.
In this blog, I would like to talk about one of the components of the marital friendship, which John Gottman calls “Love Maps”.
“Love Maps” refer to how well you know your partner, to what extent you are familiar with their inner world. They are about your partner’s interests, friends, values, dreams and everyday life.
We usually build friendships by being interested in the lives of our friends. We meet with them often and share something about our lives with each other, talk deeply and emotionally about it, give and receive support. As a result, we come to know and appreciate our close friends’ lives pretty well - this is the equivalent of having well-developed “Love Maps” of our partner’s world.
Why is knowing your partner well good for your relationship?
First, as human beings, we all are having deep inner longing to be known and understood by another person - this makes us feel connected, seen and appreciated by others. The better we know each other, the easier it is to understand each other and feel emotionally connected to each other.
Research shows that couples who have detailed “Love Maps” of each other’s world are much better able to deal with stress and conflict in relationships. There is also data showing that the more partners know each other, the better the functioning of their immune system. That means really knowing each other is not only good for your relationship and marital satisfaction, but also for your health!
Play A Love Map Game!
This is a game you can play with your partner to find out more about their inner world.
Below are 60 questions. Begin with question one and take turns answering the questions for your spouse.
For example, you would read question 1 aloud, and then state who your partner believes their two closest friends are. Your partner will then give you feedback. If the answer is wrong, he or she would respond with the correct answer and explain why.
This mean even if you don’t know something about your partner, you can learn something new and deepen your understanding of each other!
Take 20-30 minutes of your time and create a fun and playful evening of getting to know each other better and strengthening your relationship!
The “Love Map” Questions:
Name my two closest friends.
What is my favorite musical group, composer, or instrument?
What was I wearing when we first met?
Name one of my hobbies.
Where was I born?
What stresses I am facing right now?
Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday.
When is my birthday?
What is the date of our anniversary?
Who is my favorite relative?
What is my fondest unrealized dream?
What is my favorite flower?
What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios?
What is my favorite time of day for lovemaking?
What makes me feel most competent?
What turns me on sexually?
What is my favorite meal?
What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
What is my favorite color?
What personal improvements do I want to make in my life?
What kind of present would I like best?
What was one of my best childhood experiences?
What was my favorite vacation?
What is one of my favorite ways to be soothed?
Who is my greatest source of support (other than you)?
What is my favorite sport?
What do I most like to do with time off?
What is one of my favorite weekend activities?
What is my favorite getaway place?
What is my favorite movie?
What are some of the important events coming up in my life? How do I feel about them?
What are some of my favorite ways to work out?
Who was my best friend in childhood?
What is one of my favorite magazines?
Name one of my major rivals or “enemies”.
What would I consider my ideal job?
What do I fear the most?
Who is my least favorite relative?
What is my favorite holiday?
What kinds of books do I most like to read?
What is my favorite TV show?
Which side of the bed do I prefer?
What am I most sad about?
Name one of my concerns or worries.
What medical problems do I worry about?
What was my most embarrassing moment?
What was my worst childhood experience?
Name two of the people I most admire.
Name my major rival or enemy.
Of all the people we both know, who do I like the least?
What is one of my favorite desserts?
What is my social security number?
Name one of my favorite novels.
What is my favorite restaurant?
What are two of my aspirations, hopes and wishes?
Do I have a secret ambition? What is it?
What foods do I hate?
What is my favorite animal?
What is my favorite song?
Which sports team is my favorite?
Wishing all partners happy sharing and connecting with each other,
Svetlana Vasilyeva, MC, RCC.
Sveltana is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Relationship Specialist at Vida Relationships who is accepting new clients for couples and individual counselling in Vancouver, BC. Contact her here to book and appointment.
“The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically – Based Marital Therapy” by John M. Gottman, PhD.
“The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John M. Gottman, PhD., and Nan Silver