What’s your worst childhood experience? What turns you on more than anything? If there’s a lack of intimacy between you and your partner asking each other questions like these can help bring you together, according to Seattle couples therapist Zach Brittle.
Building “love maps” is a metaphor for how couples can get to know one another on a deeper level, Brittle explains.
“We all know a live Google map on your phone that has traffic updates is more reliable than just a direction from here to there on how to get downtown that you sketch out on a piece of paper,” Brittle tells NBC News BETTER. “That is the notion of what detailing love maps is really about — remaining curious about your partner and continuing to build up knowledge about their inner world, the way they think about life and what makes them happy and what makes them sad.”
Couples who are learning each other’s love maps can ask playful questions like, “What’s your favorite animal?” or more serious questions like, “What are you most afraid of right now?”
The point is to get a more intimate understanding of each other, Brittle explains. Here's how:
Learning your partner’s love map starts with being curious and asking questions, according to Brittle. Ask detailed questions and avoid generic ones like “How was your day?”
“My favorite ‘love maps’ question actually is a daily question and it’s asking your partner in the morning, ‘Hey, what’s one thing going on today that you would like me to ask you about at the end of the day?’” he says.
Ask your partner: ‘What’s one thing going on today that you would like me to ask you about at the end of the day?’
He says the question allows you to anticipate and think about what’s weighing on your partner’s mind.
“And at the end of the day rather than saying, ‘How was your day?’ You say, ‘Hey, how was that meeting you had with your boss?’ or ‘How was that workout you were trying to do?’” Brittle explains.
Do it regularly
While you can build love maps as often as you want, Brittle recommends doing it regularly — even daily.
“You want to be asking questions of your partner as often as possible, and the more detailed the questions the better the information you’re going to get,” says the therapist.
“I think that the more regularly you’re staying in touch with and up to date about your partner the better,” he added.
If you need help getting started, take a look at the Love Maps 20 Questions Game from The Gottman Institute.
“What is my favorite color?”
“What is my fondest unrealized dream?”
“What personal improvements do I want to make in my life?”
Form a deeper connection
Practicing love maps will help you and your partner develop a deeper, long-lasting connection over time, according to Brittle.
“That’s actually what love maps is all about — getting to know your partner and being intimately connected to their life,” he says. “Not just their day-to-day life, but also their past and their stories and their fears and their hopes.”
How to build ‘love maps’
- Be curious. Learning your partner’s love map starts with being curious and asking questions. Ask detailed questions and avoid generic ones. The key is for you and your partner to see each other in new and interesting ways.
- Do it regularly. The more often you sit with your partner and practice love maps, the closer you’ll become.
- Form a deeper connection. Intimacy isn’t knowing your partner’s day-to-day life, it’s about understanding him or her on a more personal level. Practicing love maps will help you learn one another’s emotions, past, fears and hopes, and bring you closer together.
MORE RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
- How one couple saved their marriage by asking this simple question
- How thoughtful communication can improve your marriage, according to a divorce attorney
- Why this marriage counselor says a "good enough marriage" is one that lasts a lifetime
- How the simple act of holding hands brought this couple closer than ever