We fall in love with someone, and imagine that now at last life will be full of peace, joy, companionship and hope. But after a while we often become aware that our partner seems to stand in the way of us achieving our own dreams of peace and fulfillment.
We become angry with our partner, because we feel they aren’t able to provide what we expected of them, when we fell in love.
And now we are committed to them – we can’t get those things from someone else either! They stand between us, and the life we dreamed of. That can make us very angry and frustrated.
Why doesn’t my partner love me a little better?
In our dreams, maybe we imagine the perfect partner to be the one who we fall in love with, and it carries on that way for ever. They understand us so well, they are there for us when we need them, saying the right words, providing the right support that we need. Perhaps in our dreams we don’t have those big arguments, or disappointments. It really is “happily ever after!”
Why couldn’t we find that perfect partner? Maybe we secretely long that our partner was a little bit quieter, or noisier. We wish they were more generous, or better with money! We wish they liked sex more, or left us alone occasionally
There’s a reason why we fall in love with the partner who doesn’t seem quite able to match our dreams. We see in them an ability to love us, in a way that we learned from people who loved us in our earliest years. We recognize that kind of ability to love in the partner we choose.
But however strongly we were loved, there was always a little bit of love we didn’t get. And it turns out that this partner we choose isn’t very good at providing that bit of love either, just like those who loved us when we were children.
That bit of love we didn’t get as children often goes back to some painful memories from childhood. When our partner can’t love us that way either, it touches some tender spots inside, and can bring out some of our deepest fears that we may have tried for years to hide away.
How can I make things in my relationship better?
We seem to always choose a partner who isn’t very good at meeting some of our needs in life, even though there was something about them that caused us to fall head-over-heals in love with them.
Wouldn’t it help if our partner really understood what is going on in our world. Maybe then they would stretch a little bit more towards us, and provide those needs. Maybe they would spend a little more time with us, or leave us alone a little more – or whatever it is that is important to our happiness.
Some of the most important issues may seem small, but are actually loaded with emotions. They emerge time and time again at the very heart of all the big arguments we have. How can we talk about them in a way that doesn’t trigger yet another big argument?
The first step towards a better relationship is to have a calm and effective way to talk about these big issues.
The Imago Dialogue is a way to have a deep and rewarding conversation, that helps you and your partner really understand the issues that seem to recur in the heat of conflict.
How can we talk about difficult things? It often leads to an argument.
Do you ever find yourself getting a little tense before a “serious talk”. Is your partner once again going to tell you what you do wrong, and what you need to do right! What do they expect you to do? Maybe you will get angry and deny it all, and who can blame you! Or maybe you will sit through it feeling wretched and miserable, wondering how you can have been so unkind and uncaring.
It’s very hard to hear what your partner needs without some kind of reaction!
The Imago Dialogue is a way to have those difficult conversations while feeling strong and loving for your partner’s sake. You can trust a process, that is safe, respectful, caring, and very interesting!
Imagine that you can take a holiday from being you for a moment. You can walk across a bridge to sit for a while in the land of your partner, as a welcome and valued guest. There, without judgment, you can learn about what it is to be them, what they need, and how you can help them, just by listening, and sharing their experience. And then they can do the same for you. It’s fascinating, to be able to learn so much about the person you love most in the world!
One thing many of us learn when we do this, is how different our partner really is from us! The things they did never made sense before we really listened. They may have just seemed a little selfish, or irresponsible, or uncaring. But now when we really listen to them speak, we realize that to them, it all makes perfect sense in a way that is amazing! Our partner isn’t like us at all – how interesting. The Dialogue can become a huge voyage of discovery.
Things don’t ever really change in a relationship, do they?
After a while we get to know our partners very well. It can get to seem like nothing is ever really going to change. We enjoy the good moments, and put up with the bad. Maybe if there are too many bad ones, we are wondering if it will be time to leave soon, unless something changes pretty fast.
There are things you can do to create change. Most of them need to be done by you and your partner together. They are
simple, but can be very powerful. Follow the links to find out more about each one
1.You can learn more about your partners through the Imago Dialogue, and learn to see why everything they do makes sense from their point of view
2.You and your partner can use the Imago Dialogue to share some of the things that you have always feared. These often are the things that lie behind those big arguments. Just understanding them can create a huge transformation.
3.You can decide to simply leave behind things which are destructive for a relationship, like all shame, blame and criticism of each other
4.You can introduce some new habits, like each day finding a moment to share an appreciation with each other.
5.You can learn to stretch a little, now you understand more what your partner wants. This may be just the thing to help you feel better about yourself too!
Where else can I find resources to strengthen my relationship?
These are just a few introductory steps to help you understand a little of how Imago can help transform your relationship. But some of them may be difficult without a little more support. Here are some resources which can help you on your Imago journey
·“Getting the Love You Want” – Harville Hendrix, PhD. Back on the New York Times Best-seller list at #3 in 2006, eighteen years after its first publication. There’s a reason it has sold millions of copies – it’s simply one of the best books on relationships ever!!
·“Through Conflict to Connection” known colloquially as “Imago – the movie”. Share the experience of three couples as they start their Imago journey, exploring some of the first steps. Inspiring, heartwarming, and entertaining, 50 minutes of feature, plus bonus material and exercises for home
·Imago Weekend Workshops – Held around the world. Just one weekend to transform your relationship for ever. You will learn about Imago, and even more about your partner, and how together you can create a powerful transformation in your relationship.
·Imago Relationship Therapy – the ultimate Imago experience, with your personal relationship coach to guide you through the Imago process. Great for personal growth, but invaluable if you are really struggling in your relationship.
Can you summarize all that in a few bullet points?
·Falling in love is amazing – we feel complete and whole
·After a while we often feel frustrated with our partner, and have painful disagreements
·The pain is particularly acute because the frustrations with our partner usually remind us of some painful childhood experiences
·It often doesn’t make sense to us why our partner gets upset so much over the things we argue about. We may even imagine they are just doing it to hurt us.
·The Imago dialogue is a process which makes it easier to understand our partner, without feeling threatened or under attack ourselves. And for them to understand us in the same way.
·When we do understand that our partner’s experience is so different from ours, they make sense! Then we find it easier to meet their needs. And they find it easier to meet ours!
·With our new understanding, we can learn to stretch a little more to provide what our partner needs.
·Imago provides a whole set of relationship fitness exercises to guide us through the process.
·You might take a gym class, or personal training to get really fit. Imago weekend workshops and relationship counseling can help you build the strongest and most rewarding relationship.