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How Do I Love You


By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.


This time of year, as spring turns into summer, love and relationships seem to jump to the forefront of our attention. June and September weddings still rank number one in popularity. Starting relationships may be much easier than continuing them—maturing lovingly and healthily for the long journey of life.

In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. Gottman gives us some wonderful and practical ways to ‘grow’ relationships healthily. A study relates that one of the major causes of marital dissatisfaction and divorce is the birth of the first child. Sixty-seven percent of couples had a large drop in marital satisfaction after becoming parents. Thirty-three percent did not see a change. In fact, over half of these couples reported improvements.

The difference between the two groups was what Dr. Gottman calls ‘love maps.’ The couples that didn’t have a drop in satisfaction, or grew, were the ones with love maps from the beginning. What is a love map? It is the detailed information that each person stores about the beloved. It is growing intimate familiarity with each other’s history, preferences, fears, passions, dreams and many other aspects of daily life. 

You begin to get the picture of what a love map is. The statements in the 1st  Love Map questionnaire and the 60 questions in the Love Map 20 Questions Game include dreams, hopes, aspirations, fears, joys, memories, relationships, daily likes and dislikes, feelings about oneself and others and many more. It covers the depth and breadth of relationships. Gottman gives us tools that are helpful in beginning and for developing a healthy relationship.

I am often surprised by couples who come to counseling after five, 10, or 20 years of a relationship and still do not have a very good idea about who their partner really is. The person who knows what their partner likes to eat, how he/she likes coffee or tea, what TV programs he/she prefers, how he/she feels about his/her job is on the road to drawing a great love map.

We chart our love maps with intimate time together and sharing on a regular basis. When I see couples in distress, what I see most often is that they spend little to no time together without children, other people, TVs, phones, or computers. The first prescription is to ask them to find a daily time, even if it is five minutes, to begin sharing and developing a love map for each other. Hopefully, this can grow over time.


Check out Dr. Gottman’s book and other materials. (For an example, see sidebar to right.) Better yet, make up your own statements and questions. Have some fun. Energize your relationship! Make the maps and enjoy the journey!




Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to


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The “Love Map” questionnaires
are found in his book, and in a fifty-two question deck. These products and others can be found on his website:
Here are some examples of questions for the couple to answer with a true or false: 


  • I can name my partner’s best friends.

  • I can tell you some of my partner’s life dreams.

  • I can tell you the most stressful thing that happened to my partner as a child.

  • Periodically, I ask my partner about his or her world right now.

  • In another questionnaire he plays “20 questions.”

  • Name my two closest friends.

  • Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday.

  • What is my favorite flower?

  • What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios?

  • What turns me on sexually?

  • What is my favorite meal?

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