So in Part I, we talked about the way Imago Relationship Therapy looks at romantic relationships. We said that from an Imago perspective, we all carry into those relationships a hidden agenda, a deeply held secret hope: to get from our adult partners a more caring, respectful type of treatment than the, (rarely intended, but nonetheless, sometimes hurtful), ways we experienced growing up from the people who mattered most to us.
We also said that these hoped-for responses from our adult partners are often not forthcoming from our partners nor from us to them. Not because no one cares, but because no one understands that we all do things inadvertently that at times rub up against, re-activate, the same hurts that happened to our partners a long time ago. But we don’t know about this, no one ever taught us and these old hurts are not easy to see. After all, an emotional wound is invisible – not like a physical one, so easy to spot.
So now we come to what Imago Relationship Therapy is all about – which is helping couples begin to see their conflict, their issues, through a new lens – the lens of each other’s past.
Here’s the good news: once couples are helped to uncover and understand that their differences stem in large part from events that happened long ago, things begin to take on a very different tone. Now, instead of feeling frustration every time you complain I’m just five minutes late, I understand that growing up you were always the last child at school to be picked up by a parent. And I because I can imagine how difficult that would be for any child, I can now accept why you might be hyper sensitive to people not being there for you.
At the same time, maybe you can now understand and accept that I grew up with a pretty critical mom and that when you come at me in an angry way, I can feel scared and just want to withdraw. I don’t mean to re-wound you, nor do you intend to hurt me. We just haven’t understood.
This new perspective will do wonders for any person’s relationship. As a man said to me this past week after helping him see the connection between his wife’s raging at him, (over something he thought trivial), to a difficult moment in her childhood: “That right there was worth the whole price of admission!”. Once you begin to see your partner’s behavior and feelings with an educated eye, light bulbs start going off and the anger and frustration you were feeling before suddenly melts into empathy and compassion and a desire to act differently.
This, then, is the short version of what we call in Imago the building of a Conscious Marriage: a relationship of passionate best friends. There are multiple steps to master – you won’t do it over night. But the rewards are many and worth the journey.
Options for learning more:
1) Contact Barbara with a question or to make an appointment
2) Purchase a copy (or two copies, one for you and your partner), of Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Drs. Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt.
3) Consider investing in an Imago Weekend Workshop for Couples – hands down, the fastest and most economical way to creating, as we say, the relationship of your dreams.