A Growing Relationship: You and I Will Grow Together
Create. Grow together. Offer each other your life. Enrich yourself. Demolish the castle. Build it back up. Awaken. Dream. Sleep. Eat. Devour. Kiss. Love. Care for. Argue. Disagree. Reconcile. Smile. Hug. Admire each other. Cultivate your love. Caress each other. Excite. All of this and more is what makes up a growing couple or relationship.
Knowing the tastes of our partner, knowing their joys and fears, remembering the names of their favorite painters, maintaining intellectually stimulating conversations, having trust and freedom, offering special details, etc. This is the emotional world of a relationship, with its love maps and its detailed routes.
So, is this the basis of a relationship with no codependency? Yes. Because each person knows the other person, strengthens them and doesn’t seek to fuse with them. This is an essential aspect of a growing relationship.
Love maps of a growing relationship
According to the psychologist John Gottman, love maps are those parts of our mind in which we store all of that information that’s relevant to our partner’s life. Remembering this and paying attention to our partner’s emotional changes allows us to better know their goals in life, worries and hopes.
The information about our loved one’s important life events, their preferences and tastes is readily accessible to us.
Thus, we should dedicate some time to complete a type of file or record alongside our partner. Although this information may be in our mind already, it can’t hurt to mutually write it down on a sheet of paper. It’s a great exercise. Let’s see…
Important people in my partner’s life
- Potential friends
- Rivals, competitors, enemies
Recent important events in my partner’s life
- Imminent events (what does my partner wait for filled with hopeful anticipation, and what do they anxiously or fearfully await)
- My partner’s current tensions
- My partner’s current worries
My partner’s hopes and aspirations (for themselves and for others)
This can be very enriching if done schematically. Moreover, each member of the relationship can write down some information in a notebook about themselves and then exchange notebooks. For example:
My struggles and my triumphs
- Which successes in your life are you especially proud of?
- How have those successes defined your life? How have they affected the way you see yourself, your abilities, your goals and the things you fight for?
- What importance has pride had in your life? (that is to say, the experience of feeling proud of yourself, of being praised, or giving praise, etc?)
- Did your parents show you they loved you? How? Was love openly expressed in your family? If not, what implications has this had on your relationship?
- What role has your pride in your achievements played in your relationships? What role have your struggles had?
- Would you like your partner to know and understand these aspects about you, about your past, present and future plans?
My wounds and scars
- What difficulties have I undergone? Losses, disappointments, problems, stress, deception, deep traumas…
- How have I become stronger? How did I channel my pain?
- How has this affected my relationship? What would I like my partner to know and understand about these aspects of myself, my past, present and future plans?
- How do I express and how did my family express each emotion when I was little?
- What is my philosophy about the expression of one’s feelings?
- What differences are there between me and my partner when it comes to expressing ourselves? What hides behind these differences? What implications does this have?
My mission, legacy, and who I want to become
- We should imagine ourselves in a cemetery standing in front of our grave: what do we want our epitaph to read?
- What do I want people to think of my life?
- What is my purpose? What meaning does it have?
- What would I like my life to be like in 10 years?
Knowledge is power
It’s not about the longevity of the relationship, but rather about the quality of the intimacy. Being in contact with those external aspects of our lives (hobbies, for example) and with our internal world (desires, beliefs, fears, etc.), makes a couple behave in an emotionally intelligent way.
Being connected and catching up on the changes in the love map helps us not break down during times filled with changes and modifications in our feelings (for example, when you have a child).
We especially have to point out that if you want to foster a healthy relationship, never slack and stop getting to know your partner. Never stop admiring them and updating your love maps in order to become closer and strengthen your individual and joint development.