Even the best of couples can feel off in their relationship after a baby arrives. Exhaustion has set in, routines have changed, and you are in the midst of renegotiating household responsibilities. As the kids get older it can continue to feel as if you and your partner are no longer spending time together, connecting, taking time to be a couple.
John Gottman is a researcher who has studied couples and is considered a leading resource for couples therapists. One tool that Gottman suggests to get a couple back on track is the use of a Love Map. A Love Map, simply put, is a way to get to know the small things in your husband or wife’s life. Asking questions such as “who do you like to go to lunch with at work?” and “what do you worry about?” can help to build a better understanding of your partners world.
You may think you know the answers to many of these questions and perhaps you do but I’m guessing some of the answers have changed over time. Just as our world is constantly evolving - think back to when you had your baby and the changes you experienced with your friendship circle, thoughts and way of feeling. Heck, even how you experienced going to the grocery store changed. It might be surprising to learn that our partners also underwent a change too. Even if your kids are grown and gone or you are just starting a new relationship, asking questions about your partner is a great way to build what Gottman refers to as a “solid foundation” for your relationship.
This week I encourage you to ask questions about your partner's life, likes and dislikes. Learn what is currently making them tick, take an interest in their work, ask questions, ask about their experiences during the day.
You can start building a Love Map by asking your partner questions such as “What’s my favorite place to eat lunch?” or ask your partner questions like “Where do you like to go out for lunch when you’re at work?” Here are some additional questions to get you started on building your Love Map.
If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
What is your favorite vacation we took and why?
What’s your favorite restaurant?
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
What is your proudest moment?
As your partner shares listen without judgement, ask questions, be curious and have fun.
Gwendolyn Nelson-Terry, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Vacaville, Pollock Pines and Sacramento. Providing online counseling for women and couples - serving all areas of California.