Welcome AwakenYou listeners, welcome to another week of bringing more of what you want into your intimate relationship! To begin let’s take a look at that relationship goal you set for yourself at the beginning of this month and let’s ask ourselves a few questions about how it’s going. For those of you new to the podcast I won’t get too deep into the details but I have been using the episode as a way for us to be intentional with the things we want to work on in our relationships. This week I want you to write down the things you have done to move you forward with the goal you set at the beginning of this month, think of 3 things then after you write those things down take some time to go into your body and get familiar with how it feels to have accomplished these three things this past week. Next, I want you to write down one way you have hidden from an action you wanted to take towards your goal, and then take some time to write about why you hid from that action, what was going on inside. Lastly, what you can do this week to step closer to that goal? I’d also suggest that if you find yourself struggling with following through on the goal you set, or even setting a goal in the first place, schedule yourself a free mini-session where we can break through your own self-sabotage when it comes to creating what you want.
Secondly, I want to remind you of my free Abundant Love Mini-Course where I walk you through the work of shifting how you look at your marriage, helping you to uncover what you love about your marriage and then use that to create more of what you love.
This week I want to talk about this dynamic that can happen between partners when they get to this place of hardly knowing or understanding each other. A relationship can get to this point when the couple neglects the relationship by not dealing with issues that come up, eventually, they come to this point where they are so disengaged that they don’t really know much about the one they are married to. They don’t really know what is going on in each other’s world and they aren’t having substantial conversations where they are opening up to each other and sharing their thoughts, fears, and feelings. They feel disconnected, discouraged, and somewhat hopeless to change the relationship dynamic because there seems to be a huge chasm between where we are and where we want to be. They think they have grown so far apart that bridging that gap seems impossible, but today I’m going to show you one tool that you can use to help you better understand each other and start bridging the gap.
What are Love Maps and why they are so important?
Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman talks about a process of getting to know your spouse called building Love Maps and he describes it as the solid foundation of your “Sound Relationship House” which are the 7 principles he shares in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. That solid foundation is how well you know your spouse and I talked about this concept extensively in Ep 37: Love Maps, Getting To Know Your Spouse so go back to that episode if you want to learn more.
The problem that can occur with building love maps at this stage of the relationship
What I have discovered is the “foundational” (no pun intended) problem here is that we don’t know and love ourselves well enough to share detailed intimate parts of ourselves and when we can’t share the intimate parts of ourselves we can’t go deep with anyone else.
Secondly, because we’re so “out of practice” with sharing, diving into a “getting to know you” practice feels awkward, they’re unpracticed at the practice.
Third, I see a lot of shame come up when people realize how little they truly know about their spouse. So let’s take a look at how we’ve gotten here.
Going back to the beginning of the relationship, at this point we are oftentimes solely focused on impressing our date. If we haven’t done the work of coming to terms with much of our past we find ourselves only sharing those parts of us that felt safe to share, parts that we felt our spouse would accept. We had a weak personal foundation of knowing and loving ourselves and when we combine our weak personal foundation with our spouse’s most likely weak foundation, we start out our marriage without a solid foundation.
Then, several years into the marriage, this getting to know each other phase often fades as we move our focus to things like building careers, a cozy home, and family. This focus outside of the marriage feels almost like a relief, it takes the focus off of ourselves and what we’re uncomfortable with in our own lives. We move on to things we think will bring happiness and fulfillment while continuing to ignore what’s going on inside of us and our marriage. We stop “filling in the details” of each other’s love maps while the little bits we did learn about our spouse slowly fade away. Often what can happen after years of focusing outside of ourselves for that fulfillment is we find ourselves empty and embarrassed to say we don’t really know the one we’re married to.
It has each of you in a place where you don’t even know each other very well and it’s 100% understandable that you’re in this place – the problem is how do you get to where you want to go which is knowing and understanding each other.
The good news of how to re-build your marital foundation.
It makes sense that we feel a bit insecure and hopeless about our relationship because we have lost the intimate connection that comes from deeply exploring our spouse’s soul. My very unscientific discovery comes from my lived experience, as well as what I have learned from my clients, which is that we often will resist “getting to know” them because we haven’t taken the time to do that work for ourselves. We haven’t done the work of knowing ourselves intimately.
Now turn that around and consider the possibility the same might be going on for them – they may be resistant to your inquiries into getting to know them because they don’t even know who they are!
At this point, couples will often seek guidance to figure out how to fall back in love with the one they’re with OR where one is so unhappy they will seek help with their own self-discovery. This self-discovery helps them find themselves, build their strong foundation and in the process, they begin to rebuild the foundation of their marriage – of course exactly what we do in AwakenYou – my 1:1 coaching program.
For myself and so many of the people I work with, we discover so much shame over so much of our past that creeps into our present, and before we can share ourselves with our spouse we have to crack ourselves open and find out what is inside – who we were. But, if both of you are dedicated to your relationship and willing to take steps towards re-building then it is 100% possible.
The process of getting to know your spouse better is a dedication to the marriage and the process of doing your own work of getting to know yourself better. In Gottman’s book, he shares a list of 60 great questions, use this list as a starting point, better yet, start developing your own list of great questions.
So right now I’m going to ask you one question. I want you to answer that question for yourself and then text your partner right now asking them the same question – ask your partner to guess your answer to the question and then share with them what you think their answer to the question will be.
The question: What date was your favorite?
What are 3 other things you want to know about your spouse? Come up with some of your own questions, but let me get you started with three:
- What was your favorite childhood toy/game?
- If you had to go live on a deserted island for a week what one would you take with you?
- What is/was your favorite TV show?
Now, do the same thing over the three days and then message me, firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you learned.
Before I wrap up I want to share one more thing: THIS WORK WILL FEEL AWKWARD! You might also be resistant to this work, which completely makes sense if you’re not used to sharing and you’re not feeling all in love with your spouse! The first place you need to get is on board 100% with your new relationship, and you will start working on getting to this place during the process of getting to know yourself better. If you keep thinking about how much your relationship is damaged and if you should do this rebuilding process somewhere else then of course this work won’t feel authentic.
Get to the place where you’re all in on working on the marriage and then just start this practice, trust me, the awkwardness will go away once you start having fun with the project!
So what I shared with you today is
- Gottman’s model of the Sound Relationship House and how the foundation of that house is the knowing of our partner – what Gottman calls our Love Maps
- How we can get started in our relationships with a shaky foundation and that it makes sense that with this weak beginning, over the years of neglect the foundation will grow weaker
- That rebuilding a solid foundation doesn’t mean you have to move – you can stay in the same Relationship House and start building that solid foundation by getting to know yourself better and in the process playing a game with getting to know your spouse better too
Have an amazing week and keep this month’s goal top of mind! Happy hugging, ciao!
I am a marriage coach helping women and couples turn their loveless & emotionless marriage into something better than they ever imagined possible. My process starts by looking within to understand how you got here, and from this place, we work together to figure out where you want to go. Then we do the work of making that your reality!
If you feel sad and completely powerless about your marriage’s state of affairs, then I’d love to chat with you about what is going on and what’s possible for you and your future. It’s never too late to re-create your best life. Schedule a free mini-session today, and let’s talk about how to get started.