One of the tasks of a successful marriage is for each spouse to add details to that map by asking questions, listening, and turning toward their partner in good and bad times. Because a person’s inner world changes as they pass through the seasons of life – like when the children leave the home a spouse needs to revise and add to their Love Map to stay in tune with their partner. Happy couples use their Love Maps to understand each other, and to show fondness and admiration.
Click here to assess the Love Maps in your relationship and to download a free PDF with Love Map questions.
Have you implemented and tried out the Love Map trick in your marriage? Read 5 Stages of Marriage And How Your Love Map Can Make It Stronger
Creating Shared Meaning
When they were raising kids, Lisa and Roger’s individual stories took different paths. The times they’d filled giving attention to each other was replaced by time spent providing for growing children.
Dr. Gottman’s research has discovered that couples in satisfying marriages create shared meaning with individual stories that overlap. Dr. Gottman has provided a list of discussion topics for creating shared meaning in his book The Relationship Cure.
With an empty nest, Lisa and Roger needed to find a way to reconnect their stories. Without shared meaning, their paths would have continued in different directions, leaving them like two ships passing in the night.
To create shared meaning, Lisa and Roger turned back the pages and talked about where their love story began. They made time during evenings and weekends together to browse through old photos of their courtship, wedding, and honeymoon. They listened to their favorite love songs. And they watched their favorite romantic movies.
Lisa and Roger also talked about how their interests had changed over time. Roger discovered Lisa had developed an interest in her family roots and wanted to travel to Germany and Sweden. Lisa learned that Roger now had a taste for Thai food, and wished they could try Thai restaurants around town.
They started developing shared rituals, roles, goals, and symbols. For example, they put a weekly date night on the calendar and took turns choosing a restaurant. Tuesdays became Roger’s dedicated night for watching his favorite reality TV. Lisa used Tuesday evenings to keep up with her Mary Kay business. They also started volunteering at church activities together.
Is your marriage going through a rough patch? Read 5 Different Stages of Marriage And How To Effortlessly Survive Each Of Them
Reviving the Dream
Lisa and Roger’s dream of enjoying their empty nest almost died in an unsatisfying marriage. By putting their efforts into rescuing their relationship from empty nest syndrome they now have reason to hope. They’re now doing things they did before they were parents, and they’re making new plans. They’re looking to sell their home to scale down, and they’re saving for a European vacation to explore the land of Lisa’s family roots.
While an empty nest can feel lonely, the transition offers couples an opportunity to renew their vows of connection and intimacy – one chapter has ended but another has just begun.
If you want to know more about empty nest syndrome, then check out this video below:
This article was originally published on The Gottman Relationship Blog.
If you’d like more ideas on how to rekindle the romance after the kids have left home, get our popular guide here.