Marriage: Love Maps

My husband and I both did our undergrads in the same city we now call home. When we first moved into our residence buildings we didn’t know much about the city at all other then where the malls and movie theatres were.  Over time, we got to know the best spots to eat, fun dessert bars and cafes, the best parks and bike trails, and shortcuts through the city. We became so comfortable and soon fell in love with this little city, so much so that we decided to settle down and start a family here after we got married.

Becoming familiar with the map of our surroundings is very similar to a term that John Gottman calls Love Maps in his book “7 Principles for Making Marriage Work“.  It’s the idea that to love someone you have to know them.

When Ron and I first started dating over 10 years ago (crazy I know) we spent A LOT of time together. We were in highschool and we were young and in love? Thats debatable because I truly don’t think you even know what love is at that age haha. We drove to school together, ate our lunch together, spent most evenings together hanging out at one of our homes. A new relationship is so wonderful and new and you want to learn everything you possibly can about the other person. I think it’s safe to say that in spending all that time together we did get to know each other well. We both had a detailed map of the other. We knew each others likes and dislikes,  each others greatest fears and what made the other laugh.  But over time, people change. They grow and they develop new thoughts and new interests. I am no where near the person I was 10 years ago and neither is my husband. We have both changed in SO many ways.

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It takes work, it takes time, it takes effort. Especially after you throw careers and kids in the mix. New stressors, new circumstances, new challenges, not NEAR enough time to spend getting to know each other, I mean really knowing each other. Not just his favourite color, sports team and what he likes on his sub. I don’t think those will ever change. haha I’m talking the thing that makes him most anxious, his newest passions and life goals, the co-worker that pushes his buttons, and how he would really like to spend his free Saturday.

In his book, Gottman says:

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.

So. This is something that we’ve been seriously working on. Because just like the next couple, we don’t have it all figured out and we get so caught up in the every day motions of life that we often forget to keep working at getting to know each other and putting in the effort to stay intimately familiar with each others lives. So little things like making a point to ask each other about our days over the supper table, having what we call “couch time” to connect for even a few minutes each day, going on walks together, regular date nights (not movies!) and both of us making more effort to pay attention to the little details, the ones that get overlooked but are oh so important.

I truly believe that we should never stop learning about the other no matter where we are in our relationship. Building that love map, just like a real map, is the key to truly knowing each other and then being able to love each other in the way that you each need to be loved.

Have a blessed Monday and thanks for reading!

xo Natalie

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