Love Maps Part 1
Jordan was a police officer two hours away from his home. When he left for work on Thursday he would not return until Monday morning. He was well liked on the police force and always did a good job. He had won many Mothers Against Drink Driving Awards and protected the people who he served. He took overtime opportunities when he could to provide more for his family. When he was home he enjoyed playing video games, relaxing, hunting, hanging out with his friends, and playing baseball and softball. There was only one problem with this, he had a wife and 4 kids who loved him that he did not spend much time with. His wife would try desperately to get him to go on dates with her or do tasks with each other so they could spend time with one another, but Jordan always declined because he had other things he wanted to do.
Jordan got to the point where he didn’t know much about the activities the kids did, where they liked to go for fun, who their friends were, or even who their teachers were. Sadly, he knew even less about his wife. He did not know her hopes, her dreams, her dislikes, her fears, or the things that scared her in life. John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work says, “I have found that many married couples fall into a similar habit of inattention to the details of their spouse’s life. One or both partners may have only the sketchiest sense of the other’s joys, likes, dislikes, fears, stresses.”
John Gottman speaks about another type of couple who are emotionally intelligent couples who are familiar with the intimate world of each other. Steve and Kathryn fit into this category. I taught them in one of my workshops while in college. I recall them having to say a word and determine which was better. For them, this activity didn’t work, because they said the exact same word. The next activity was to determine the supplies they would remove from the ship to survive on a deserted island. This game didn’t work either because they picked the same things! They knew what bothered one another; they knew each other’s fears. They were emotionally invested in one another and had made them a priority. As John Gottman calls it, they had made “plenty of cognitive room for their marriage.” He goes on to say, “without such a love map you can’t really know your spouse. And if you don’t really know someone, how can you truly love them?”
People who have invested in one another and each other’s love map are better prepared to deal with life’s stresses and conflicts that couples face. Love maps protect couples when life gets difficult. Going back to Jordan and his wife’s story. Sadly 9 years after they got married their divorce was finalized. They didn’t invest in each other when it was needed and their relationship drifted apart, stresses overcame them, and conflict occurred that they could not recover from. Steve and Kathryn on the other hand are happily married and have been for 45 years! What’s the difference? Steve and Kathryn invested in one another. They invested in each other’s love maps.
You might be asking yourself, how do I enhance my love map with my partner. John Gottman tells us to begin with the Love Maps Questionnaire:
Love Map Questionnaire
By giving honest answer to the following questions, you will get a sense of the quality of your current love maps. For the most accurate reading of how your marriage is doing on the first principle, both of you should complete the following. Read each statement and determine if the statement is true or false.
- I can name my partner’s best friend.
- I can tell you what stresses my partner is currently facing.
- I know the names of some of the people who have been irritating my partner lately.
- I can tell you some of my partner’s life dreams.
- I am very familiar with my partner’s religious beliefs and ideas.
- I can tell you abut my partner’s basic philosophy of life.
- I can list the relatives my partner likes the least.
- I know my partner’s favorite music.
- I can list my partner’s three favorite movies.
- My spouse is familiar with my current stresses.
- I know the three most special times in my partner’s life.
- I can tell you the most stressful thing that happened to my partner as a child.
- I can list my partner’s major aspiration and hopes in life.
- I know my partner’s major current worries.
- My partner knows who my friends are.
- I know what my partner would do if he or she suddenly won the lottery.
- I can tell you in detail my first impressions of my partner.
- Periodically I ask my partner about his or her world right now.
- I feel that my partner knows me pretty well.
- My partner is familiar with my hopes and aspirations.
Scoring: Give yourself one point for each “true” answer.
10 & above consider this a strength.
10 and below consider it a weakness. Either you do not have a love map or it needs to be updated.
How do we update it or work on it? We move on to Exercise 1 according to John Gottman and his Love Map Exercises laid out in his book..
Love Map 20 Question Game
Play this game together in the spirit of laughter and gentle fun. The more you play, the more you’ll learn about the love maps concept and how to apply it to your own relationship.
Step 1: Each of you should take a piece of paper and pen. Together, randomly decide on twenty numbers between 1 and 60. Write the numbers down in a column on the left-hand side of your paper.
Step 2: Below is a list of numbered questions. Beginning with the top of your column, match the numbers you chose with the corresponding questions. Each of you should ask your partner this question. If your partner answers correctly (you be the judge), he or she receives the number of points indicated for that question, and you receive one point. If your partner answers incorrectly, neither of you receive any points. The same rules apply when you answer. The winner is the person with the higher score after you’ve both answered all twenty questions.
- Name my two closes friends. (2)
- What is my favorite musical group, composer, or instrument? (2)
- What was I wearing when we first met? (2)
- Name one of my hobbies. (3)
- Where was I born? (1)
- What stresses am I facing right now? (4)
- Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday. (4)
- When is my birthday? (1)
- What is the date of our anniversary (or engagement)? (1)
- Who is my favorite relative? (2)
- What is my fondest unrealized dream? (5)
- What is my favorite flower? (2)
- What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios? (3)
- What is my favorite time of day? (3)
- What makes me feel most complete? (4)
- What turns me on? (3)
- What is my favorite meal? (2)
- What is my favorite was to spend the evening? (2)
- What is my favorite color? (1)
- What personal improvements do I want to make in my life? (4)
- What kind of present would I like best? (2)
- What was one of my best childhood experiences? (2)
- What was my favorite vacation? (2)
- What is one of my favorite ways to be soothed? (4)
- Who is my greatest source of support (other than you)? (3)
- What is my favorite sport? (2)
- What do I most like to do with time off? (2)
- What is one of my favorite weekend activities? (2)
- What is my favorite getaway place? (3)
- What is my favorite movie? (2)
- What are some of the important events coming up in my life? How do I feel about them? (4)
- What are some of my favorite ways to work out? (2)
- Who was my best friend in childhood? (3)
- What is one of my favorite magazines? (2)
- Name one of my major rivals or “enemies”. (3)
- What would I consider my dream job? (4)
- What do I fear the most? (4)
- Who is my least favorite relative? (3)
- What is my favorite holiday? (2)
- What kinds of books do I most like to read? (3)
- What is my favorite TV show? (2)
- Am I right handed or left-handed? (2)
- What am I most sad about? (4)
- Name one of my concerns or worries. (4)
- What medical problems do I worry about? (2)
- What was my most embarrassing moment? (3)
- What was my worst childhood experience? (3)
- Name two of the people I admire most (4)
- Name my major rival or enemy. (3)
- Of all the people we both know, who do I like the least? (3)
- What is one of my favorite deserts? (2)
- What is my social security number? (2)
- Name one of my favorite novels? (2)
- What is my favorite restaurant? (2)
- What are two of my aspirations, hopes, or wishes? (4)
- Do I have a secret ambition? What is it? (4)
- What foods do I hate? (2)
- What is my favorite animal? (2)
- What is my favorite song? (2)
- Which sports team is my favorite? (2)
Good luck! Have fun and strengthen those love maps! We will be back with more love map tips soon!
Blog Post inspired by John Gottman’s Bestseller, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work : A Practical Guide From the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. New York: Harmony.
Next Post: Love Maps Part 2