I just asked my husband of 25 years where on my face do I have a scar?
You think you know your partner, but do you really? You probably know their basic likes and dislikes… what they want in a partner… what makes them happy… but do you know who your partner’s best friend was when they were 12? What about their first crush? How did your partner learn to ride a bike? Were they a natural or did they struggle with the whole “balance” part and have the battle scars to prove it?
My scar on my face is in fact under my chin from falling off a bike when I was in prep. In my husband’s defence, he is taller than me, so its not often that he sees my scar that’s under my chin, and when I asked him the question, he hesitantly pointed to the top of my forehead. It is true that I have a scar there too, but he knew that not because he could see it, but because the injury occurred in the last ten years. When I said “no, no that scar, I was referring to the one under my chin”, he replied whilst smiling “yes, that’s a beauty, but I didn’t know you when you were in prep, I only first met you when you were 12”!
This blog is all about what Drs John and Julie Gottman call “Building Love Maps”.
Having these conversations and getting answers to these questions is a part of building Love Maps. Think of it this way. When you choose to spend your life with someone, you’re handing them a map to your inner world! And incidentally, I believe this extends to all meaningful relationships.
It’s your job to intentionally add details to it with your partner! The map needs scale, direction, landmarks, texture, colour, and everything in between. A detailed Love Map brings perspective to the twists and turns that inevitably come up in a partnership. It simply helps people understand you better. And remember, relationships and people evolve… and what you think you want, your likes and dislikes, your fears… may change, so keep your loved ones updated.
Be committed to ask the questions that give you these bits of information. Try picking an age and invite your partner to share a story about themselves at that age. For example, say, “Tell me a story from when you were 10,” or, “What were you like at 17?” The trick is to ask open-ended questions. You can try the same with your children. For example, ask them what was the funniest thing that happened at school today?
When my husband explained to me why he forgot about the scar on my chin, it wasn’t only what he said that made me feel close to him, it was the smile he had on his face when he said it that really hit the spot, Just that in itself was adding another dot on our love map. It was a tiny thing, but it moved me!
Small things often – that’s where it’s at.