Marriage Counseling - Love Maps
What is a “Love Map?” How to Use Gottman’s Model for Lasting Love
Do you know your partner? Have you got a deep understanding of who they are as a person, including their hopes, fears, and dreams? The Gottman Institute has a tool called a “Love Map” that can help couples better understand each other and develop a closer and more loving relationship.
What is a Love Map?
A Love Map is the term used by the Gottman Institute to describe all of the connections of understanding between two individuals in a relationship. The concept of a map is a metaphor. Imagine a blank page. Over time you and your partner fill in the areas that have been explored in your relationship. The idea is to have a complete picture of who each of you is. This understanding helps to deepen your relationship, make the bonds tighter, and create a closer friendship.
Creating a Closer Friendship
The Gottman Institute notes that for couples, 70% determine the satisfaction in their relationship by the quality of friendship with their partner. Creating a friendship involves getting to know another person well. We have all kinds of friendships through:
- Social activities and groups
- Professional organizations
- Houses of worship
- Connections with other parents through children
Your life-partner should be your best friend. They are the person who knows everything about you, and the same ought to go for you about them.
At the heart of this method is asking questions to better understand each other. The Gottman Model involves using a deck of 52 cards. Each card has questions that you can ask your partner. Together you can write down your answers to compile a record. You can use this information in written form or create a map or other visual aid to help both of you understand the data. From these answers, you can form more questions to ask each other.
What Kinds of Questions are Asked?
There are different types of questions. For instance, personal history questions that begin with “What is my favorite…,” What is my dream…,” “What kinds of…, and “What do I like/dislike?”
The only way to get to know someone well is to talk to them! The card deck provides a framework that couples can use to get the conversation going.
Better Prepared to Manage Stressful Times
Once couples know each other they have a greater capacity to better handle stressful situations. In their research, the Gottman Institute found that after having their first child 67% of couples found less satisfaction in their marriages. The other 33% not only didn’t experience this, but half of those couples experienced an increase in marital satisfaction. Why did this occur? It was because these couples had a thorough understanding of each other. This understanding helped them navigate the stressful time of becoming new parents.
Creating a Strong Foundation
Love maps are the groundwork for what’s called the “Sound Relationship House.” This involves a 9-step process that includes:
- Creating love maps.
- Turn towards your partner vs. away from them.
- A positive perspective approach.
- Managing conflict.
- Making Life Dreams Come True.
- Creating a shared meaning with each other.
- Having trust with each other.
- Maintaining a commitment to each other and the relationship.
The visual aid used to present this concept is a house. Love maps form the foundation, with trust and commitment holding up the sides. You move through the levels of the house from fondness/admiration all the way to shared meaning at the top.
The Love Map is a useful tool for couples who want to better understand each other. It is also the beginning of a larger process that can help couples form a deeper and more connected bond that is meaningful and stands the test of time. With a better understanding of each other, couples are more prepared to face life’s challenges and enjoy its successes together.
To read more about the Gottman method please click.