This week I have learned something that is vital for any long and happy relationship: Love Maps. Love Maps are Dr. Gottman’s term for “that part of your brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner’s life.” (1999) For instance, do you know what your partner’s greatest worry is right now? Do you know the names of your partner’s friends, or the people your partner works with? Do you know which coworkers your partner gets along with and which ones are a source of irritation? Do you know your partner’s goals and dreams for the next five years? The next 10? The next 50? (Gottman, 1999)
The detail of your love map is a sign of your level of intimacy with your partner. Those couples who share the details of their lives with one another are the ones who are more prepared to deal with tough times that will inevitably fall on all marriages. Any big stress or change in life can strain a marriage, but those couples who know each other well and have a means of keeping up with the changes in their partner’s thoughts, dreams, and life are the ones that stay close through the tough times. Life is hard and it isn’t easy to focus on someone else through all of the stress and expectations that are put on each of us. One of the best ways to keep up a detailed love map is to have a time set aside each week devoted to you as a couple.
A great article I read this week called, The Date Night Opportunity, includes great information from studies looking at the difference between couples who take time at least once each week to connect with each other and those who don’t. Those couples who share couple time at least once a week had an average of three times higher rates of happiness, communication satisfaction, commitment levels, and yes, even sexual satisfaction than those couples who share couple time less than once a week (Wilcox, 2012). That number is huge! Don’t believe me? Just check out the link to the article in my reference section!
Starting now, make a commitment to your spouse. Create a love map if yours is currently missing. Update yours if it is outdated. Put more details on it if you think it is current. There is always more to learn about your spouse and your dates don’t have to cost much. I have created a few date ideas for my husband and me that are . . . guess what . . . FREE!
Take a walk: This could be around your yard or around the neighborhood. Discuss what you like or would change about the house or landscape. This is a good time to dream together and maybe even plan for future projects.
Cuddle under the stars: It is getting cooler out, and many nights the sky is clear. Cuddle in a big blanket looking at the stars, sharing details about your day, your thoughts, your dreams, your stresses.
Cooking time: Pick a new recipe (I want to learn how to make crispy crackers) and work together to try it out. This can be great fun, especially when flour ends up all over both of you.
Popcorn night: Pop some popcorn and sit down to reminisce. Talking about what you remember about the day you met, the day you married, the day you had your first child. Be sure to focus more on the positive aspects of those days. All of these intimate details of the life that you share with the person sitting next to you create amazing feelings of closeness and friendship.
Whatever you do, make sure the activity allows for connecting and learning about each other. Be creative and have fun. Happy Mapping!
Gottmanm J.M., Silver N. (1999) The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. New York: Harmony Books.
Wilcox, W. B., Dew, J. (2012) The date night opportunity: What does couple time tell us about the potential value of date nights? The National Marriage Project. University of Virginia. http://nationalmarriageproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/NMP-DateNight.pdf