One of the greatest desires for humans is a desire to know someone and to be known themselves. Ideally, your relationship with your partner should be the place where this desire is best fulfilled.
In John Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, one of the principles that he endorses is what he calls “Love Mapping.” Love Mapping is really just knowing about your partner, their likes and dislikes, their current relationships, their struggles, their successes. It was probably easy to have a good Love Map when you just started in your relationship. However, over time, you both got busy, you stopped asking questions and you stopped sharing because it seemed like your partner wasn’t interested anymore.
People and situations change. Therefore, it is important to continually update your Love Map of your partner. Things that are included in the Love Map include things as mundane as your partner’s favorite flavor of ice cream and things as sensitive as the most stressful thing that happened to your partner as a child.
Things that we love, we are able to describe in detail and with enthusiasm. We all know this. If you know things about your partner, both great and small, it shows them that you have made space in your brain for them and that it matters to you to keep that information in there. Whether you remember to order their food without tomatoes, even though they didn’t ask you to, or you are able to describe what they do for work in detail, you are demonstrating to your partner that they matter.
For much of my marriage, I failed miserably at keeping an update Love Map of my wife, as a result she often felt uncared for. The last few years I have worked on it and still have room to grow. This week my wife took me out to dinner for Father’s day. I took a picture of some of the suggested questions from The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work book and we took turns answering them. Some of our favorite questions were:
If you could live during any other time in history, when would you choose and why?
What is the most exciting thing happening in your life right now?
If you could instantly possess three new skills, which would you choose?
We ended up having a lot of fun. The next time we went out, Ashley asked me if I had any more of those questions to ask.
I encourage you to search for Love Mapping questions online, find some of your favorite and have a conversation with your spouse. You may find out some things that surprise you about each other.