Building a Love Map of Your Spouse

In his book, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, clinical psychologist and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman talks about important elements that help any marriage relationship grow. We believe that knowing—and applying—these 7 principles of marriage can help us grow together as a couple.

One of these is the importance of sharing love maps.

What is a love map?

A map is a visual representation of a given place, where we can see the roads, the terrain, and sometimes, even what buildings there are in that location. A map helps us plan our course of action, such as when we want to get from one place to another, and also makes it easier to find things in the actual locality.

 

Taking that analogy, a love map then is a symbolic “map” in our minds of all things that pertain to our spouse: it can include his or her dreams, goals, fears, likes, dislikes, or any other relevant information that helps us to relate to him or her in the context of our marriage relationship. 

For example, what first attracted me to Joy was her bubbly personality. Whereas all the other girls in school had this demure, stereotypical quiet Asian girl vibe, Joy was essentially a firecracker lighting up whatever room she was in. I was enthralled by this girl who had no qualms speaking her mind, and I wanted to get to know her better. 

At first, my “map” of Joy in my mind was a huge blank, perhaps with just the outline of who Joy is, and with little details in it. But as we became good friends and I discovered more and more things about her, that map in my mind started to take shape, with details as to the terrain, the roads, the buildings in it.

After we got married, the love map didn’t stay the same. I still kept finding out new things about Joy, what makes her tick, what pisses her off, and all these details go into that love map. Even now, after several decades of marriage, she still manages to surprise me, and that makes me love her more. 

What if I tell you that you and your partner are each like a bottomless well, a spring where all sorts of good things can come up day after day, month after month, year after year? Because in reality, that is what we are! As human beings, we have limitless potential, and so much gold inside of us that it surely takes a lifetime to unearth all that treasure.  
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Getting to Know Each Other Beyond Marriage 

The struggle with most married couples is that, a few years after the wedding, we stop getting to know each other. Isn’t it that most people have this notion that the honeymoon is the peak of the marriage, and that it goes downhill from there? No wonder, too, that the marriage could grow stale, if, after the honeymoon, the husband and wife no longer share new things with each other. It’s almost as if the novelty has worn off. 

(On a side note, the topic of “novelty” can also be one reason why some people are lured by the thrill of an affair—getting to know someone new can be exhilarating!) 

But what if I tell you that you and your partner are each like a bottomless well, a spring where all sorts of good things can come up day after day, month after month, year after year? Because in reality, that is what we are! As human beings, we have limitless potential, and so much gold inside of us that it surely takes a lifetime to unearth all that treasure. 

Ideas for Sharing Love Maps

If you feel like you are currently at a standstill at constantly getting to know your partner better (and vice versa), here are some tips that we believe can help jumpstart this exciting journey:  

1. Set aside a weekly date time 

Sometimes, what keeps us from getting to know each other better is the lack of time and focus. We get so frazzled by all the demands around us, that we forget what it was like when it was just the two of us. A weekly date time will help get around that problem, and we encourage you to try it out. Carve out a time, put it on your calendars, and resolve that that time will be a time not to talk about work, kids, or anything else, except each other. 

2. Start asking questions about each other

Now that you’ve set aside a date time, what do you talk about? For me and Joy, when we go on our date time (which is, most often, just a walk for a few blocks and back home again), it takes conscious effort not to talk about the children’s needs or any other household-related topic. But we’ve found that postponing talking about all those other concerns, in lieu of asking each other about what we’re thinking and feeling, is definitely worth it!

If it’s been a while since you had this kind of conversation, you might need some ideas to start you off. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad husband or wife, it just means you might need a little practice! Good news, we have a free e-book entitled 101 Questions that can help you do just that. Feel free to get a copy of it here.

3. Respond to your new discoveries. 

Now that we’re starting to fill in our love maps of our partner’s likes, dislikes, fears, and other stuff, it’s time to put them into action. 

For example, if you find out that your spouse loves tempura, you can make a mental note to order it the next time you bring takeaway food home. Or, if he doesn’t like pistachios, clearly, you won’t be bringing home a giant tub of pistachio ice cream!

Using Love Maps to Enhance Your Marriage

The goal of developing our love maps is for us, as married couples, to understand and love each other better. We believe that as you embark on this journey of getting to know each other better, it will help you grow in love too.

If you would like to find more ways to strengthen your marriage, feel free to download our free e-book, 10 Days to Improve Your Marriage. Or, you may also check out our upcoming workshops. Here’s to a stronger, long-lasting union!

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