As a child of divorce (whose mother is also a child of divorce), marriage is on my mind a lot. Not necessarily getting married — though I think about that too — but about the general stuff that makes a long-term relationship work: communication, curiosity, friendship, romance. How do you keep those sparks from fizzling out over time?
Building a Love Map — a term coined by Dr. John Gottman, the co-founder of the Gottman Institute, who has conducted over 40 years of research on love and marriage — is one activity that can help keep the connection aflame. (Check out Asking For a Friend, Thrive’s Q&A column in partnership with the Gottman institute, for a ton of great advice.)
Unlike how it sounds, a Love Map isn’t a tangible thing. It’s a conversation that consists of a series of questions, and it allows you to dive deeper into the other’s world, Karen Bridbord, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and Certified Gottman Therapist tells Thrive.
With Karen’s help, I tried building a Love Map with my partner of five years — and it taught us both some valuable things about the other.
Love Map night is really just date night, Bridbord notes, and she recommends doing it at least once a week. Here are 30 questions to help you get started:
1. What is your partner’s favorite TV show?
2. What is your partner’s favorite tree?
3. What is your partner’s favorite song?
4. What is your partner’s favorite animal?
5. What is your partner’s favorite body part that belongs to you? That belongs themselves?
6. What foods does your partner hate?
7. Does your partner have a secret ambition? What is it?
8. What are two of your partner’s aspirations, hopes, or wishes?
9. Which people does your partner most admire in the world? Name two.
10. What is one of your partner’s concerns or worries?
11. What is your partner currently most sad about?
12. What is your partner’s favorite kind of reading?
13. What is your partner’s favorite holiday?
14. What is your partner’s greatest fear?
15. Who was your partner’s best friend in childhood?
16. What are some of the important events coming up in your partner’s life and how does he or she feel about them?
17. What does your partner like to do with time off?
18. Who is your partner’s greatest source of support (other than you)?
19. What is one of your partner’s favorite ways of being soothed?
20. What was your partner’s favorite vacation?
21. What was one of your partner’s best childhood experiences?
22. What kind of present would your partner like best?
23. What personal improvements does your partner want to make in his or her life?
24. What is your partner’s favorite way to spend an evening?
25. What was your partner’s most embarrassing moment?
26. What is your partner’s favorite movie?
27. What is your partner’s favorite food?
28. What makes your partner feel most competent?
29. What is your partner’s favorite time for making love?
30. What is your partner’s favorite relative (besides you)?
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