The Sound Relationship House is a theory developed by Drs John and Julie Gottman, the world’s leading relationship psychologists.
The Sound Relationship House Theory is the Gottman Method’s foundation, which uses a practical approach to help couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationships. The Gottman Couples Method is at the core of Luxdates’ philosophy of a successful relationship.
In a series of articles, we introduce this concept to build a better relationship with your partner.
Today we start with the first floor of the Sound Relationship House: Love Maps.
What Are “Love Maps” and Why Do They Matter?
Isn’t it amazing and inspiring to see old couples celebrating their diamond anniversary? Seeing them dance, hold hands, and even just exchange sweet laughs. We cheer and say something like, “Wow! That’s unbelievable.”
How do they do that? What’s their secret? How do they manage to stay in love with one another for that long? Undoubtedly, their long relationship also had its ups and downs, so how did it survive?
They did not stay in the relationship because of a great sex life, good luck, or absence of conflict. They know each other so well that friendship is already the foundation of their marital relationship.
A new couple’s first task is to get to know each other. Mostly we get to know another person by asking about biographical incidents: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, etc. While these details are essential, they are superficial, more like the kind of information you can read on a CV. Sadly, a lot of couples don’t venture a lot deeper. Yet, what’s at the core, what shaped the other person into who he/she is today, his/her thoughts, dreams, aspirations, remain hidden, simply because we seldom talk about them.
Couples who have successful long-term relationships make knowing each other better a priority over their lifetimes with their partner.
“Sometimes, when we’re lying together, I look at her and I feel dizzy with the realization that here is another distinct person from me, who has memories, origins, thoughts, feelings that are different from my own. That tension between familiarity and mystery meshes something strong between us. Even if one builds a life together based on trust, attentiveness and mutual support, I think that it’s important that a partner continues to surprise.”
– Barack Obama about his wife Michelle
You’ll be spending your life with someone, so hand them a map to your inner world. It includes your deepest fears and your grandest dreams. But the map you show your partner is a pencil sketch.
Create love maps for your relationship. Draw one of your Love Maps for your relationship before you make a lifetime commitment.
“Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. I call this having a richly detailed love map.” John Gottman, PhD
Think back through the twists and turns in your story. Write them down. Or perhaps draw an actual map. What has the journey to this point been like for you? Where were the smooth roads? Where were the steep climbs or the deserts? You mustn’t expect your new partner to be the answer to all the questions you’ve been asking — consciously or unconsciously — throughout your life.
So, the best way to ensure a healthy marital friendship is to keep asking questions.
Explore areas that might not be at the top of your mind during the early stages of young love, or worse, the traumatic stages of wedding planning.
- In what ways do you operate well as a team? In what ways could you improve?
- How is this relationship different than those that have not worked out?
- What are your strategies for coping with tough financial times?
- How do you handle conflict?
- How will you decide who is responsible for which chores?
You might not have thought about these topics before. You might assume that your partner shares your views. That’s why it’s crucial to bring them up. Not thinking about them, or assuming that your partner shares your views, may end up in marital disaster later on. Make question-asking a habit. Here are some open-ended questions that are important and detail-oriented.
- Who was your best friend in childhood?
- What was your favourite vacation?
- What kind of books do you most like to read?
- Do you have a secret ambition? What is it?
Ask questions, tell stories, add details to your pencil sketched map. Provide clarity about the journey both you’re about to embark on together.
Create a habit of getting to know each other as your top priority. Whatever you do, commit to a strong marital friendship in the hopes that one day — maybe 62 years from now — you’ll be that couple everyone is cheering for on the dance floor.