By Kate Pauley – MFTC
Love Map Vision Boards
Dr. John Gottman, the world’s leading relationship researcher states that a key to relationship success is to never stop learning about your partner. Gottman suggests that, just like we continuously get to know our friends, we should continuously seek to learn about our partners no matter how long we’ve been together.
Gottman coined the phrase “love maps” to represent this continuous learning process. He states that “love maps measure the amount of cognitive room partners have for the relationship – knowing one’s partner’s psychological world, and being known and feeling known as well” (Gottman, 199, p. 161).
Building a love map looks like never assuming that you know everything about your partner, or that your partner knows everything about you. Building a love map looks like approaching your partner with curious and fresh eyes every day. It looks like getting to know the why behind your partner’s decisions and seeking to understand more and more about how they think and operate.
Human beings are not stagnant beings, we are constantly changing, so to believe that you already know everything there is to know about your partner is to believe that they are incapable of change.
Gottman also suggests that we continuously work on our friendship with our partners, as friendship is the most basic building block of any relationship. Friendships are built on shared interests, trust, kindness, respect, and support.
This exercise that you can do as a date night with your partner is designed to both boost your friendship and help to enhance your love maps.
Sometimes sitting down to do something new, vulnerable, and a little bit forced with your partner can feel awkward. Embrace the awkwardness and give this exercise a try; I expect that by the end you will have sincerely enjoyed your time with your partner and discovered something new about them.
Love Map Vision Board Date Night
Set aside an hour of time to complete this exercise. I recommend doing this exercise sober and on a night where you won’t be too interrupted.
You will be creating a shared vision board with your partner. A vision board is a visual representation of what you want out of life. This particular vision board will represent what you want out of your relationship and what you already have that you want to nurture and grow.
The vision board will serve as a visual representation of your love map. This is a tool to help your partner get to know what is most important to you about your relationship now and in the future.
You will need magazines, scissors, paper/poster board, glue.
Flip through the magazines that you have at your disposal and cut out any picture that speaks to you. Identify what that picture represents to you: a want, a need, something you enjoy about your relationship, something you’re looking forward to, etc. and then put it on your vision board.
Be creative and have fun! There is no right or wrong way to do this.
Once you have each created your vision boards, present them to your partners. Talk about where you overlap and differ. Identify things that you can do to support your partner in their vision and vice versa. Use this as an exercise to get clear on what is truly important to each of you. Use this exercise as an opportunity to get closer, to develop your love maps. Hang your vision boards and allow them to serve as a reminder of how to best love and support your partner.