Welcome back and I am super excited about how last week’s episode, Six-Second Kiss Paralysis, has opened up a whole grouping of discussions around the process of rebuilding not only our marriage relationship but as always, our relationship with ourselves. Last week I mentioned twelve different ways the six-second kiss can help rebuild our marriages and create that connection we are craving so badly. In that list, I mentioned terms that might be unfamiliar, terms like love maps, self-soothing actions, emotional bank account, turning towards your partner, and bids for connection. Through different conversations I have had since last week’s episode release I have decided that digging into these topics will be useful for all of us as we do the work of believing that our relationship dream is possible and that we have the power to change its dynamic. Over the next several weeks I am going to take a closer look at each of these terms and I believe these episodes will help you build some relational resources that will help you get comfortable doing new things in your relationship and give you a new perspective around those things that you are already doing to strengthen your relationship but maybe not aware of. Today I am going to dig into what Dr. John Gottman calls Love Maps which is his term for getting to know your partner intimately, Love Maps are simply detailed knowledge of your partner’s inner self, I like to call these our partner’s storybook. As you get to know them you fill in the details of the pencil sketch of a map you started to create when you first met them, or possibly even before you officially met them.
If you think back to the beginning of your relationship there was a lot of “getting to know” each other, you were sharing time together and creating connection by being curious about the one that was attracting you and sharing information about yourself. It was fun learning new things about this person you were attracted to but over time we often let life consume our days and we forget to continue the learning process. Initially, getting to know each other is also pretty low-risk because we aren’t getting deep, we’re able to share in a way that doesn’t expose those things that we hide from and feel shame around, and then as we move through the relationship and commit our lives to each other, sweeping over those stories we hold close becomes easy.
When you start to discover that your relationship has gotten to a place that is different from what you expected and as you begin to see that you want something different in your relationship, it can feel so far from where you want to be that re-creating that intimacy can feel very challenging, almost insurmountable. It’s as though we are so far away from knowing our partners that we feel embarrassed when we realize how little we may really know about them, but if you can look at it like a fun new adventure then this getting to know each other can be fun, almost like starting over.
Today I’m going to talk about what love maps are, why we want to keep filling the details in on our maps and then I’m going to talk about how to pick this process back up from where you are now in your relationship. Keep listening because you may be surprised to hear how I suggest you start this knowing process.
What love maps are
The Gottman Institute created a theory called The Sound Relationship House, and Building Love Maps is the first floor, the foundation, of that sound relationship house. That first floor is all about how well you know your partner. Do you know their worries, their stresses, what makes them feel joy or what their dreams are, as well as knowing what city they were born in, what they thought of kindergarten, and who their favorite grandparent was? Many spouses tend to think this job is already done when they are years into the marriage but continuing to explore the soul with an interested person builds an emotional bond that many couples never experience – makes sense as to why affairs feel so rewarding. The concept of building love maps is that knowing little things about your partner and their life builds a strong foundation for your friendship and intimacy. It’s knowing each other’s world from their past to what is going on with them right now and what their dreams are for the future.
The research that Dr. Gottman discovered was that couples who were emotionally intelligent were intimately familiar with their partner and their world. This means that each partner had a beautifully detailed Love Map of themselves and their partner. These couples created plenty of space in their mind for their partner, instead of just a short, few page story of who their partner is, they had a richly detailed storybook with detailed photos and text. They remember major events from their partner’s past and they continue to edit the information as things change in their partner’s lives.
Why knowing our partners is so important
When we know more about our partner’s deep, innermost feelings it makes us love them more. This wisdom and knowledge helps us to better understand our partners when they face mountains in their lives or when together as a couple you face stressful circumstances. When we better understand our partners, and ourselves, it’s easier to navigate the difficult times and encourage each other through them, we have a better connection with them, we like them for who they are. When we don’t know our partners intimately it is much easier for us to lose our way when things change in our lives, when challenges occur creating more distance between us because we haven’t created that loving connection.
This knowing and willingness to continue to know is the glue that will keep the foundation of your relationship strong. Think about it, our lives change, and for sure, if you are doing the work of growing and changing and becoming more of your true self, if you are AwakeningYou, then it’s important to share your new discoveries with your partner. As you start shedding the habits of people-pleasing, avoiding, hiding you will evolve and be revealing your work to your partner which will help them do the same.
How to pick this process back up
One of the ways we do this is by going back to what we did in the beginning, we start to pick up the process of learning who they are which to some might seem odd because we think we should already know our partner but instead what we shared what felt comfortable to share, we didn’t share our inner selves. And actually, our partner has hopefully grown and changed quite a bit since the time we dropped the getting to know them routine so it’s sort of like starting over. The thought of starting over might sound exhausting but if it does, let me share this thought: it can also be exciting, sort of like reigniting that spark again!
Where I suggest you start in this process is starting with yourself, yes, start building your own storybook, your own love map, you start with knowing yourself more intimately. You can begin with an outline and the filling-in details. What was easy sailing in your life? When were you climbing mountains or crawling through arid deserts? Keep building it through the practice of journaling or with a professional, you don’t want your partner to be the one who is the answer to all of the things you’ve been concerned with or questioned in your life.
While you are writing your storybook you can share with your partner what you have been doing and what you are discovering and ask them some of the same questions you asked yourself letting them know that you want to get to know them better. They can be simple and fun questions like where they were born, what the first day of school was like for them, have them describe the first place they lived when they moved out of their parents house. Start a list, refer to it often and start filling in your love map right along with your partner’s love map. You can pull it out when you are on a car ride, on a hike, at dinner, or on a lazy night by the fire.
I know some of you might be thinking that your partner will never participate in such an activity, it’s ok, I understand. There are ways for you to ask these questions without them sounding like a quiz or a card game AND, what does it matter how they react? You want to get to know them, share that with them, and then share your response to the question to get the conversation started. The more you share about yourself, the more both of you will know about you and eventually, your partner will open up to the game, trust me, take your time, be consistent and you will bear fruit.
If you are interested in doing the work of re-building your marital relationship then I want to encourage you to come join my six-week marital magic course that is starting November 13th, through this Friday the price is only $59 and it goes up $100 at midnight. Go to my website to get details and get yourself registered. Join a small group of people who struggle with some of the same things you struggle within your marriage, find support and a whole lot of encouragement as I share steps to create the relationship that you love and start believing that you have the power to turn around how you feel about your marriage.
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.