So your rose garden needs a little work? If you are aware that your relationship needs help and your partner is willing to work with you to achieve harmony, count yourself lucky. I’m sad to say that my marriage had already gone south before I recognized how bad it was. So bad, in fact, that D was telling me he wanted a divorce. I knew right away that I would need some help whether or not we were willing to go together. A friend of mine told me of a therapist she and her husband had worked with some years previous. Dr. A was a certified Imago therapist for individuals and/or couples. My friend had told me a great deal about the Imago approach and it made sense to me, so I called up and made an appointment. What did I have to lose?
Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., developed the Imago method of counseling. The following is a quote from Dr. Hendrix which describes briefly why he thinks we’re drawn to our partners:
Psychologists say that “chemistry” is really our unconscious attraction to someone who we imagine will meet our particular emotional needs. What we unconsciously want is to get what we didn’t get in childhood from someone who is like the people who didn’t give us what we needed in the first place.
I had to read that paragraph several times to get the gist of it. I’m accustomed to shorter sentences. 🙂 Seriously, I have read most, if not all, of Dr. Hendrix’s books and his logic rings true. Here’s a summary of what I understand Imago therapy to be:
- All of us are born whole and complete.
- We become wounded in our early stages of development by caregivers. (Most parents don’t do this on purpose.)
- We have in our unconscious an image of all the positive and negative traits of our caregivers. This is the Imago. This image gives us the blueprint for whom we should marry in order to have our needs met.
- We then marry someone who is an Imago match. This is someone who matches the composite of our early caregivers. Since our parents (caregivers) are the ones who wounded us, they are the ones who must heal us in the form of our primary love partner.
- We choose our romantic partner using a selection process based on who will be able to heal us and help us grow.
- At some point after the “honeymoon” is over a power struggle ensues. Both partners are seeking healing and growth.
- The conscious mind doesn’t choose this struggle. It’s the unconscious mind seeking healing.
- With conscious effort and dialogue, the Imago love mate is the one most compatible with us and the one most capable of helping us to resolve unfinished business with our caregivers.
You may be wondering why I’m writing about all this now. I wonder a little myself but I think I know the answer. Back before D and I physically separated and he was still living at home with me, and after I had seen Dr. A a few times, I asked him if he would consider going to a couples weekend of Imago Therapy. I explained it to him as Dr. A had explained it to me. It’s a good way to get to the heart of who you are and why you’re attracted to certain people. Whether or not he and I decided to stay together, we both would have learned some important things about ourselves and our relationships. I became very hopeful. D had to go on a business trip and took a copy of “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix with him. He came home and told me he had read the book and some woman on the plane asked him about it and he just gave it to her. (Can’t help wondering who the woman was.) This I learned from that experience: Something in the reading touched a chord. D had a meltdown. He cried and cried. I’m still not sure what all the crying should have told me. I do know that he decided a few days later that he didn’t think he would be able to go for a weekend with me. And he moved out and the rest is history. I know now that his girlfriend had given him an ultimatum, he had promised her that he would leave me and he did.
“Thank God and Greyhound” he’s gone–a very funny song by Roy Clark. I don’t mean that to be ugly. I simply realize I’m better off and maybe he is, too. And life is good.