Building strong Love Maps is one of the benefits of sharing personal growth stories with your partner, our goal for this week, and I believe that Love Maps is an important enough concept to deserve its own post, so here we go! Today we will look at the concept of Love Maps, including a quiz to help you determine how strong your Love Map is for your partner right now.
John Gottman is a scientist who studies relationships. Specifically, he spent a great deal of time studying marriages, and what leads couples to either divorce or stay together. He found four behaviors, which he called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that predicted divorce: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. In one study, he was able to determine with 93.6% accuracy which couples in the study would ultimately divorce.
When he focused on what changes couples could make that would increase their chances of staying together, however, he found that simply attempting to eliminate the Four Horsemen was not particularly helpful. Instead, it turns out that couples should develop a number of positive behaviors, which in turn naturally reduce the incidence of the Four Horsemen. One of these positive behaviors was developing strong Love Maps.
The term Love Map refers to having a detailed, clear, current understand of your partner’s inner world – their goals, dreams, struggles, ways of thinking, history, likes, dislikes, etc. A Love Map is not something that you develop once, and then forget about. Because people are constantly changing, it is important to keep your Love Map current with who your partner is today, not just who they were when you met. Having a strong Love Map enables you to see your partner as a vital, growing person and allows your partner to feel truly understood and accepted by you. The continual process of renewing your Love Maps also ensures that you stay emotionally connected with your partner, a very important part of intimacy. (For Gottman’s full list of the seven things essential to healthy relationships, check out this article.)
Click here to take the Love Maps quiz. Answer the questions on the first two pages, keeping track of the number of “True” answers. Give yourself one point for each “True.” Above 10 pts. indicates a healthy Love Map, while lower numbers indicate that you may need to work on building (or refreshing) your Love Map.
Whether your Love Maps score was high or low, you might want to try out the game that follows the quiz (pages 2-3). It could make a fun (free) date night activity, and help both of you to increase your Love Map for your partner.
More from John Gottman
If you found this quiz helpful, you might enjoy some of Gottman’s other questionnaires. This workbook based on Gottman’s theories includes a number of different questionnaires that focus on specific areas of relationship health. Whatever the quality of your relationship right now, there is almost certain to be something there that can help you strengthen it. (The first three pages are the quiz and questionnaire, so just skip those)