NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Love Maps: How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

According to relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, who wrote The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Worka "Love Map" is a metaphor for that part of your brain where you store important information about your partner, including their preferences, opinions, likes and dislikes, fears, hopes and dreams, and major events in their life (see my articles: The 5 Stages of Love From Attraction to Commitment and Developing and Maintaining a Happy Relationship).

Love Maps: How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

Getting to know your partner and allowing your partner to get to know you, including your inner emotional world, is an ongoing process.  It means making a sustained effort throughout the course of your relationship to learn about your partner and allow your partner to get to know you on a deep emotional level.

Why Are Love Maps Important?
According to Dr. Gottman, people who remain up to date with what's going on with their partner, including their thoughts and feelings, are more resilient and they're in a better position to weather life's inevitable ups and downs, including conflict and stressful events.

The reason why developing love maps is an ongoing process is that people change over time.  If you're not paying attention to your partner's thoughts and feelings as well as the significant events in their life, you will probably drift apart (see my articles: Telltale Signs That You and Your Partner Are Drifting Apart and How to Get Closer If You and Your Partner Have Grown Apart).

For a variety of reasons, many couples lose touch with the details of their partner's life.  Understandably, this might be due to being overwhelmed by childrearing, stress at work or other everyday stressors.  For instance, many couples tell me that they barely have time to talk to each other because they're focused on their children.  

Another example is a situation where one or both spouses are expected to work long hours at home after the normal workday and respond to calls, email and texts late at night.  As a result, they end up being exhausted and have no time for each other.  If they don't make a conscious effort to make time for each other, they can become increasingly alienated from one another.

Under these circumstances, they might know general information about a particular area of their spouse's life, like an interest in a particular type of music, but they might not be up to date on their spouse's new favorite band, the name of a new friend or the details of a new hobby or interest.

Some people are also afraid to be emotionally vulnerable in relationships.  Emotional vulnerability feels threatening to them, so they don't like to share their inner emotional world.  

These are the couples who are likely to drift apart because emotional vulnerability is part of the glue that keeps relationships together and without it they might just coexist in the same household like roommates (see my article: Relationships: Fear of Being Emotionally Vulnerable and Emotional Vulnerability as a Pathway to Greater Emotional Intimacy).

Over time, without shared emotional intimacy, there is often more distance in the relationship.  When there is less and less to share, the relationship suffers.  In the worst case scenario, alienation can increase until they feel like strangers to each other.

Fortunately, there are ways for couples to overcome the emotional distance that can so easily develop over time.  Developing a Love Map, as described in Dr. Gottman's book, is one way to do this (see my article: New Bonds of Love Can Replace a Negative Cycle in a Relationship).

Getting Help in Therapy
If you're struggling with unresolved problems, you're not alone.  Help is available.

Taking the first step to contact a licensed therapist might be the hardest, but it's also the first step to resolving your problems.  So, rather than struggling on your own, seek help.

A licensed mental health professional can help you to resolve your problems so you can live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.