We spent the last two days of July in Seattle, at a Gottman workshop called "The Art and Science of Love". Their marketing blurb included a comment about helping distressed marriages get better and helping good marriages get great.
I'm going to start at the beginning and remind you that every marriage, er, committed partnership, needs tending. We know that about our businesses, about our work, about our households...but way too many marrieds behave like once the rice is swept away and the wedding is over, the marriage can just be; it can just cruise. We were reminded, at Gottman, to put our whole heart into our marital relationship, the way most of us put our whole heart into loving our children.
One of the first exercises, on the first day, involved Building Love Maps. What's that? Shocker...it involves asking questions, and encourages you to keep asking questions, every day. They jokingly said in a serious way that listening builds libido.
Do you really KNOW your spouse's world? Does he/she know yours? Maybe there's knowledge about how you take your Starbuck's, your idea about the ideal a/c temp, but does your partner know your stressors, your goals, your key players?
These are the things that matter. These are the things that connect you, and without these love maps, the path ahead is treacherous. Failure to to connect is the reason people argue. Failure to connect is the reason people split (it's not issues over money, sex, and in-laws as popular culture tells us).
As John Gottman said: "There's no mystery. It's really simple, but you've got to do it!"