Friday, March 23, 2007

Taking the Pulse of a Relationship


To continue with the relationship blog topic from yesterday - Professor John Gottman has recently developed a radical theory for the secret to a successful union, based on 'the love map'. 'The love map' is the term for the part of your brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner's life.

Gottman's research showed that a powerful predictor of how long a relationship lasts is how many apparently trivial minutiae they knew about their partner; for example, what kind of sauce they liked with different food, which was their preferred coffee brand etc. Gottman's theory is that the small details seemed to be the best predictor of the relationship's health. He went onto suggest that 'the love map' acts as a protecting factor from big life upheavals as it's this kind of knowledge that keeps couples up-to-date and keeps them aware of what they are both thinking and feeling.

Obviously, the main criticism of Gottman's research is that it's chicken and egg. Maybe by the very fact that the relationship is strong, a detailed love map will naturally develop. However, perhaps the take home message from his research is that we can all sometimes underestimate just how upsetting it can be for others when we forget the small details as it can be perceived as uncaring.

10 comments:

Ian Lidster said...

But, when you are first in love, or if even infatuated with somebody you find all those tiny essences utterly enchanting. I can tell you dozens of details about my former wife whom I loved with all my heart. Unfortunately, it was the 'big' things that drove us apart, not the fact she liked her eggs hard-boiled.
I think, Michelle, there is no 'formula' other than the fact that we are all different. I think love is a more 'spiritual' rather than a mundane thing. On the other hand,my former track-record isn't great.
But currently, with my spouse, I have been blissfully happy for a decade.

Ian

Maalie said...

But don't you think a "love map" can change over time? What is appropriate when children are little may not be the same when they have left school. Maybe we ought to be able to download 'love-map updates' to our brains, like you can to a sat-nav.

jmb said...

Well that would be the ideal, for sure. I think my husband missed out when they were handing out that part of the brain. Still despite his deficency we are still married after 46 years.
Regards
jmb

Anonymous said...

mm- interesting idea..

Chandra said...

Little map of tastes is a bonus but he still makes me laugh after 13 years. I think the reason for enduring relationships is the amount of laughter prevailing over worry and other difficult emotions. If the couples can laugh in worst of times, that’s the secret and true measure of resilience for a relationship…

I enjoy your blog.

simon said...

i agree with maalie.

I find however its not the major things, but the minor things. I have often said a friendship or love can be ruined in just a word. Like cutting a silk thread...

Chrysalis Angel said...

Nice post Michelle. So much goes into a good relationship. I hope you don't mind my popping in.

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Ian, Maalie, jmb, Chandra, Simon and Chrysalis angel - thanks for all your comments. I think you are all right as love as so many facets, and there can be no single formulae which could answer the unanswerable question... but it's fun to think and read about. Thanks to you all. Michelle

Praguetory said...

Hi Michelle - good post, if a bit scary in a way. Re the blogging project, please can you give me the PHD friend's email address. I'm contactable at praguetory@googlemail.com. It is very much appreciated. I think I owe you one.

Two Becomes One said...

If only we really new the secrets that would keep people together forever. I think you need communication, honesty and respect to start with. But knowing the litte things about each other can be the frosting on the cake. After all, if you know your mate likes a certain type of food or book or whatever, you could go out of your way to get if for them for no special reason. This helps a person to feel special. Of course, we all want to feel special.