What is a Love Map?

What is a Love Map?In the first year Tony and I were married, I took a new job that changed my commute from 8 minutes on a few back streets to driving 20 minutes into Seattle and then invariably spending another 20 minutes hunting for a parking space. We have always loved living so close to the city, but this was the first time I would be traveling in for work instead of just for fun.

I was excited for the position – working for a non-profit, helping lower income new parents with communication skills to improve their family life – but I was just as excited to get to know the Capitol Hill neighborhood more intimately. At first, I took the bridge over and stayed on the freeway until I got to the Google Maps prescribed exit. I only turned where I was told to, nervous to get lost and be late for work. But, over time, as I became more familiar with the obvious routes, I started to venture out and find winding roads off the ordinary path to get me to and from work. I found some yummy spots for lunch, like Bimbo’s Cantina, that I’d never been to before. I got to know Cal Anderson Park and some tasty places for happy hour that weren’t as crowded as the places I used to be familiar with. I no longer used Google Maps. I now had a map in my mind that was getting rich with details every time I turned down a new road. As I explored, I fell more in love with Capitol Hill and every inch of Seattle that I was discovering.

What is a Love Map?

I think discovering the many things about a city or neighborhood is a lot like the idea of Gottman’s “Love Maps.” We talked about this a tiny bit in last week’s post, You Had Me at “Chicken Piccata,” how Tony learned a new recipe because he knew it was a favorite dish of mine. He is so much better at remembering the details about me than I am about him. It’s definitely something I want to get better at.

I mean, when you first enter into a relationship, there is nothing to do but discover as much as you can about this person. They are fascinating and lovely and delightful, partially because they are so wonderful, but also because they are new. Then, over time, you begin to think you know them because of all the time you spent getting to know them in the beginning. What you may not realize is that they have changed. They’ve grown, just like you have, and they have new thoughts and interests.

It's who you have beside youI’d lived in and around Seattle for 11 years before I took this job and really began discovering my city in detail. There was a part of me that thought I was familiar enough with this place. Still, Seattle is growing and changing as most great cities do, and there are always new things to discover. You and your spouse are like this great city. With age and experience, you are changing and becoming, hopefully, a better version of yourself than you used to be. There will always be more to discover about each other. Having a detailed “Love Map” is about growing in your understanding of the person you married. Instead of taking your familiarity for granted, you strive to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of his/her inner world.

Gottman puts it another way. He says, in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work:

Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. I call this having a richly detailed love map – my term for that part of the brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner’s life. Another way of saying this is that these couples have made plenty of cognitive room for their marriage. They remember the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change.

How familiar do you think you are with your spouse’s inner thought life? How familiar do you think they are with yours?

The {Mini} Love Map Game

Interested in building up your own Love Map? There’s a great set of questions in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, and with The Gottman Institute‘s permission, we’ve created a mini version for you here. Pin it so you can come back to it over and over again!

The {Mini} Love Map Game - #staymarried


Click here for The #staymarried Podcast episode where we dig a little deeper into this Love Maps topic.

Whether you are just starting out in your relationship or you’ve been married for decades, there is always more to discover about the person you love. Remember: it’s the seemingly trivial details that make up the person you married. It’s worth the investment to find out what those are as well as to reveal the details of your own thoughts. Building that intricate Love Map, like discovering the quirky streets of a new city, will help you really know and fall more in love with your spouse and #staymarried.


You are reading What is a Love Map? a #staymarried blog. If you liked this post, you may also like to read You Had Me at “Chicken Piccata” or The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do. If you think these could benefit someone else’s marriage, please consider sharing. You can also feel free to pin the images above if you like.

New to #staymarried? Welcome! Check out why we started this blog and our first entry to get a little background.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Michelle


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