What do you know about your spouse? (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Chapter 3)

How well do you know the person you are married to?

In chapter 3 of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman delivers the 1st Principle to make marriage work. He says that in order to make marriage work both partners need to have an understanding of each other’s world. This knowledge of each other he calls a love map. He says, “If you don’t start off with a deep knowledge of each other, it is easy for your marriage to lose its way when your lives shift…”
Marriage is about knowing and being known. In fact, Gottman says, “There are few gifts a couple can give each other greater than the joy that comes from feeling known and understood.”
This is not a one-time mission to gather information. To know your spouse, and to be known by them, is a life-long adventure.
So, the first question we have to ask ourselves is this: How well do I know about my spouse?
Gottman lists a series of questions to ask about your spouse in order to stimulate discussion and get to know each other and understand each other’s world. He lists over 100 questions to contemplate and discuss. I’ve picked 5 questions that are worth asking right now:

1. What is your spouse most sad about?
2. What personal improvements does your spouse want to make in their life?
3. What dreams has your spouse denied themselves or failed to develop?
4. What legacy does your spouse want to leave when they die?
5. What does your spouse want their life to be like in 5 years?

It is questions like these that help us open up and see the world from our spouse’s point of view. You might already know the answer to these 5 questions. But maybe it would be good to ask anyway. The answers your spouse provides might surprise you. You might gain new insights into the point of view your spouse has developed.
The point is not to ask some magical question that will give you complete knowledge. The point is that you constantly seek to inhabit the world in which your spouse lives. Too many people live in the same house but live in two different worlds.
The goal of Christian marriage is a unified world, not a divided world. Unity begins when we connect. When we listen and learn, we increase in unity. The power of turning your attention to know and understand is one of the most positive things that can happen in your marriage. Diverting your attention away from knowledge and understanding is one of the most destructive things that can happen in your marriage.
Every day you are given the choice of turning your attention to your spouse or away from them. And, as a result, every day you are either moving closer or further from them.

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