John Gottman is one of the most well known and respected relationship researchers in the world. Much of his research is based on direct observation and he has found that it only takes him five minutes to predict with 91% accuracy which couples will eventually divorce. In his book,
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
(Crown, 1999), he writes about exercises such as the Love Map, which helps couples develop knowledge of each other.
Knowledge About a Partner Builds Trust and Understanding
A couple who have a deeper knowledge of each other's world are better able to cope with stressful events. For example, relationships are known to suffer challenges during the birth of the first baby. Knowing more about each other upfront can help the couple get through the difficult period. Marriages can be improved through the process of effective communication.
Learning about each other can be seen as a game and can be played together in the spirit of having fun and with an interest in applying the knowledge to the relationship. A husband and wife should not only be in touch with each other about the small stuff, favorite foods, books and hobbies but also know each other's deepest longings, fears, dreams and desires. Couples counselling may help to improve communications as will the Love Map game.
Ask Questions to Learn More About Each Other in the Love Map Game
Couples could purchase and use the questions from John Gottman’s Love Map Game. Alternatively, couples can get creative and come up with their own list of questions. Each person should take turns in asking the question and the other partner will respond. If the spouse answers correctly then that person receives a point. The winner is the person with the higher score after answering all the questions.
Of course, both spouses "win" in this game. Each person should allow time for the partner to respond to the question. Sharing and mutual respect can be developed by taking turns and alternating who decides which questions to asks and records the points. Open ended questions will encourage dialogue and are sure to provide an opportunity to practice good communications towards one another.
The list of questions that follows are examples of what to ask each other:
- "What is my favorite meal to eat or to cook?"
- "Where was I born?"
- "What is the date of our anniversary?"
- "What and where was my favorite childhood vacation?"
- "What is my biggest fear?"
- "What would I say about a 40-year-old dating a 20-year-old?"
- "Did I ever have a crush on a teacher?"
- "Who is my favorite comic book superhero?"
- "Apple or Orange Juice?"
- "Coffee or Tea? How do I like it?"
- "What are my views on this country’s leadership?"
- "What is my preferred genre of movie?"
- "What is my favorite sport and which team do I support?"
- "What kinds of things bother me?"
- "What would I say is my ideal job?"
- "Of all the people we know together, who do I like the least?"
- "Would I prefer to live in a big city or small town?"
- "What would I do if I won a million dollars?"
- "What was I wearing when we first met?"
- "When did I first say the words, '“I love you?'"
Improve Relationships by Applying Knowledge of Each Other
Where couples can really benefit from develop the knowledge of one another is in everyday interactions. Knowledge brings comfort and security. For example, a person may already know how his spouse likes her morning coffee. Parenting questions might be resolved a little easier with the history of how the partner was raised. A couple may feel more respectful towards each other with the deeper knowledge of what the partner really wants in life.
Keeping the lines of communication open is very important for making relationships successful. Especially in stressful times, people may resort to hurtful or avoidance behaviours. Playing a game to learn more about each other by asking questions, builds knowledge on a positive experience. With a strong foundation of mutual understanding, respect and trust, couples can weather the difficult times and stand a better chance of remaining together for good.