Do you know what kind of salad dressing your partner likes? Do you know what their biggest stressor is right now? Is religion important to them? What are some of their deepest fears? These are examples of details you may or may not know about your partner, and they’re stored in what we call your Love Maps. Enhancing your Love Maps is really just about building your friendship on an intimate level.
My husband and I started dating about 2 weeks before he moved to South Korea - for a year! While this move was really hard, it was actually a really great way for us to get to know each other on a deeper level. During his time away, we emailed each other every day - asking each other questions about anything and everything, from our favorite foods and colors, to deeper questions like our goals for life and childhood struggles. Without even knowing it at the time, we were building our love maps and creating a deep friendship that has carried us through some really tough and stressful times in our lives.
Research shows that the determining factor in whether wives and husbands feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is the quality of the couple’s friendship. So get to know each other! Ask your partner about their day and remember the little things about them. In times of conflict and despair, it will be your intimate friendship that strengthens your relationship.
In the following exercise, I give you a launching pad from which to have your own Love Map conversations today. My goal is to give you at least one new way to move through time together that will strengthen your bond and make your relationship last. The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere: over the breakfast table, at the park on a warm evening, or late at night in the comfort of your own cozy living room.
Instructions: Sit facing each other, one of you asks the other the first question below. The listener then answers the question as it relates to their partner’s world. For example:
Speaker: “What is my favorite thing to do in my free time?”
Listener: “I think you like to read in your free time.” – or- “I’m not sure, what is your favorite thing to do in your free time?”
Take turns going back and forth. If you don’t know the answer, this is a great time to learn something new about your partner. No judgements! These questions are not meant to lead to arguments, just a way to learn and grow your connection. A committed relationship is a work in progress!
Keep alternating, taking turns. Remember to be gentle with each other and do not keep score. The following questions are just a place to begin:
-What kind of present would I like best?
-With whom do I currently have conflict?
-Who is my favorite band or musician?
-Do I have a secret ambition? What is it?
-Which people do I most admire in the world? Name two.
-What is my worst childhood experience?
-What is my favorite novel?
-What is my favorite holiday?
-Who is my favorite relative?
-What am I most afraid of?
-What would be my ideal job?
-What are two of my aspirations, hope or wishes?
-What is my favorite movie?
-Who is my greatest source of support (other than you)?
-What is most relaxing to me?
-What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
How did you do? Did you learn something new about your partner? I would love to hear your experiences with this exercise - feel free to comment anonymously!
I encourage you to continue thinking of new questions to ask each other often. As people and circumstances change, our love maps need to be continually updated. Continuing to get to know your partner on a deeper level will help create a deep and lasting connection that will hopefully carry you through the tough times in your life.