Hello again friends! It’s Mary Margaret here! I’m so excited to share with you some great marriage insights today! Back in November, my husband and I attended a marriage retreat through Tim’s work. Unfortunately, the retreat itself is reserved for employees, but we cannot recommend this experience enough! There are hundreds of conferences and retreats hosted throughout the country each year and we think it’s definitely worth it make it happen!
While we were there the speakers focussed on three main elements of marriage, friendship, oneness, and forgiveness. We’re not going to dig into them all today, but I do want to talk about friendship. In “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John M Gotten and Nan Silver explore both what makes marriage works and the predictors for divorce. Here’s what they have to say about friendship:
“At the heart of the Seven Principles approach is the simple truth that happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company. These couples tend to know each other intimately– they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams.”
Wow, to think that this is where it all starts! This may sound easy, or extremely scary to you Sometimes we think we know our fiance or spouse because they’ve been our best friend for 5, 10, 15, years. However, we don’t always know what we may be missing. So, the question we need to ask is, “how currently do I know my spouse?” This was a question that struck me. My husband and I have known each other for 10 years now, we’ve been together for 9 and married for four. Sometimes I can get caught up in thinking that I know him because I’ve known him for so long. Time does not directly correlate to depth.
So how are you feeling about your friendship? Want to grow in friendship with your best friend?
Naturally, our first inclination to growing friendship, is to say, let’s do what friends do, let’s spend time together! This is great, but the problem is, life gets in the way. For many of you, you’re planning a wedding ! How exciting!? What is occupying your time, thoughts, and conversation? Probably, the wedding planning. You have tastings to attend and song lists to write. You have thank you notes and bachelor parties. For others you’re toting the kids around, cleaning up the toys, and generally just worn out. This can all weigh on your relationship and before you know it your time together looks less like friends hanging out and more like business partners crossing things off your list.
Good news! Life doesn’t have to get in the way! There’s a simple, effective way to build friendship even when life is busy. John M Gottman outlines a concept called, “Love Mapping”. Ok, the phrase is cheesy, but the principle is pretty great. The idea is that a love map is the space in your brain that is reserved for knowing your spouse. This was first introduced to us at our retreat but is outlined in Gottman’s book. He suggests that we must know our spouse to love them. How can we love what we do not know? Therefore, we must keep up to date on our spouse.
Love mapping simply means taking time, in the car, at dinner, or before you close your eyes at night to ask specific, intentional questions to one another. A few minutes can go a long way in deepening your friendship and keeping current with your spouse. I love this concept because it can be done out on a date, while you’re doing something intentional together, or while you’re driving to lower to look at paint colors for the kitchen! It can take the everyday tasks and turn them into meaningful time together with your spouse!
This exercise doesn’t have to be done everyday or even every week. We know that sometimes you’re naturally in tune with one another, but other times we slowly drift in different directions, living our daily lives next to one another rather than with one another. It’s a powerful thing to be able to recognize those moments and then intentionally tackle them. Just a few questions can go a long way.
So, need some help? You can access Gottman’s list here ! Take some time this week and try it out!