Find out more about Dr. John and Julie Gottman's research at The Gottman Institute:

The 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse

Dr. John Gottman's research has found that these four relational patterns can lead to the down fall of a relationship. The Gottman Institute created this entertaining animation to explain how these patterns look in everyday relationships. 

The Sound Relationship House by Jennifer Normoyle


Building a Sound Relationship House


How well do you know your significant other? Do you know their favorite color, how they like their eggs in the morning? Do you know their greatest fears, or their favorite memory of you? When you have an accurate map of your partner’s internal world, a Love Map, as relationship researchers and authors Drs. John and Julie Gottman call it, you are more likely to connect and less likely to misstep during life’s ups and downs. “Couples who have detailed love maps of each other’s world are far better prepared to cope with stressful events and conflict,” says Dr. John Gottman in his bestselling book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. If you know things about your partner and vice versa, you have a greater chance to weather future storms that come your way. 

John and Julie Gottman are two of the lead researchers in effective couples therapy, known as The Gottman Method Couples Therapy. For over 30 years they have conducted research on what goes wrong and what goes right in relationships. In their Seattle Love Lab. couples in conflict and in daily activities are monitored for their levels of adrenaline, the stress-related hormone ATGC, heart beats, number of turning towards (a concept explained later in this article), repair attempts, and tension when getting into arguments. 

Based on all this research, the Gottmans have come up with the Sound Relationship House. 

The different levels that make up a relationship are all based on trust and commitment each individual has for the other. The different levels of the house include: Create Shared Meaning, Make Life Dreams Come True, Manage Conflict, the Positive Perspective, Turning Towards instead of Away, Share Fondness and Admiration, and Building Love Maps. There will be a series of articles explaining all levels of the house. A great resource for any individual to learn more about the method is one of John Gottman’s many books, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. This book includes activities and exercises you can use in every day life to enrich and deepen your relationship and that teach the concepts and set the state for interventions that couples’ therapists use when applying the Gottman method. 

Building Love Maps, creates the foundation of a successful relationship, the cornerstone of the structure that is your partnership. John and Julie Gottman discussed the importance of knowing your partner’s world. How do they view their world?; what makes them tick?; what sort of relationship do they have with their parents? Knowing your partner’s thoughts and experience of the world helps you feel more connected to them and creates thresholds when in conflict. 

Activity to build YOUR Love Map

Asking these questions will help you develop a more detailed map of each other’s life and world. It is okay if you are unable to answer every question successfully as this is an ongoing process; it is suggested that love maps need to be updated every 3 months because some things may change. 

Love Map Exercise:

  • Name my two closest friends. 
  • What was I wearing when we first met?
  • Name one of my hobbies.
  • What stresses am I facing right now?
  • Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday.
  • What is my fondest unrealized dream?
  • What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios?
  • What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
  • What is one of my favorite ways to be soothed?
  • What is my favorite getaway place?
  • What are some of the important events coming up in my life? How do I feel about them?
  • What are some of my favorite ways to work out? 
  • Name one of my major rivals or “enemies.”
  • What would I consider my ideal job?
  • What medical problems do I worry about?
  • What was my most embarrassing moment?
  • Name one of my favorite novels/movies.
  • What is my favorite restaurant?

If you are feeling highly motivated, I would encourage you to try these questions and see where you land. If you can answer these questions right now then you are on a good start. If not, begin asking your partner questions so you can continue to broaden your scope of knowledge you have of your partner. Think of this as a fun exercise before you start running errands on a Saturday!

To find out more about the author Jennifer Normoyle