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Imago Therapy – Making Your Relationship Conscious

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“The FREEDOM to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be. The FREEDOM to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should. The FREEDOM to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought. The FREEDOM to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission. The FREEDOM to take risks in your own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rock the boat.” – Virginia Satir

One of the best things you can teach your children is how to be a loving human being. Partners and families sometimes fall out of love. Harville Hendrix gives you guideline on how to get the love back. Remember when you first fell in love with your partner and how the world was so rosy and your partner was simply wonderful? And how you felt deeply connected and understood? Ahh, the joys of the early part of relationship.

conscious relationship, imago therapy, open communication, intentional dialogue

Imago Therapy presents safe ways of relating to each other that helps both partners feel heard and understood by the other and moving toward creating a spiritually conscious union.

What we really want is to be truly understood. And to be really seen by the person we care about. To find someone who can read our minds and meet our needs. To find true love and intimacy that lasts a lifetime. To be loved unconditionally by our partner. To get the “Happy Ever After” promised by fairy tales. We want love especially when we are angry and wounded by our partner.

We want to work through the unfinished childhood agenda with our partner. We want to stay in that euphoric space of new love. But despite our deep longing to be connected with the one we choose to be with, it rarely happens. Most often, when one partner is angry, the other person becomes angry back or shuts down. During conflict, the two partners disconnect from each other. The relationship suffers as people become disillusioned with their partner. The two people may even secretly start to look for exits from the relationship. Common exits are addictions, silence and withdrawal, increased fighting, self blame and depression, anxiety and threatening to leave the relationship.

The main purpose of a committed love relationship is to become a responsible loving adult and complete unresolved childhood issues says Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want–a Guide for Couples and Keeping the Love You Find -a Guide for Singles.  Hendrix’s approach, more than any other current marriage counseling model, helps couples move their union towards a Conscious Relationship.

Hendrix fashioned the name Imago Therapy to illustrate how we fall in love with the image that we put on another person. And we fall in love with those chemicals that the rush of new love brings. You have heard that love is blind? We don’t see the real person, imperfections and all, but we put our illusion of what we expect in a romantic relationship on the other person. Later, when the bloom goes off the romance, we have to deal with what the person is really like.

Imago Therapy teaches major tools of communication and connection to bond people who love each other together. Blaming, criticizing, withdrawing and pouting are the common distancing defenses in relationships. The big challenge for a happy relationship is to stop using these destructive defenses! We can replace these negative defenses with actions that keep us in partnership even when times get rough.

“We all got wounded in relationship as children with our parents and siblings,” Bonnie Brinkman, Imago Therapist, explains. “The healing can only come in relationship. We need our partners for this. The old mom and dad stuff becomes the template for selecting a partner. We choose people to be in relationship with that represents the best and worst of our parents. The psyche holds an unconscious agenda to select the right person who can help us heal. Hendrix says that our partner, with all of their frustration about us has the blueprint for our healing.”

The heart of Imago Therapy is to use the relationship to mend the pain of being hurt and disappointed in childhood. Brinkman continues, “We are the walking wounded. Our partner holds the blueprint for our healing and growth. The elegance of this process is that we heart flutter over only a few people in the entire world. We fall in like with some of them and then find a person to fall in love with and hook up with. We unconsciously pick the perfect partner to help us do the growing up work. God, the Universe, Fate or whatever you call it helps us zero in on that perfect partner who will push our buttons so we can get on with our work. There are no accidents why we get together with the person we choose out of all the millions of potential partners. The one we choose is someone who is familiar to us–we have met aspects of them before in our mother and father. That sets the stage for doing the work of growing past our present defenses.”

In the Power Struggle stage of relationships, the partners become stuck in trying to tell the other what to do and gathering data to make the other person wrong, at least in their own eyes. Conflict sends grownups, back into the defenses of their little child. There can be wounding if each person knows the trigger points of the other and goes for them pulling forth the defenses they learned as a child. In power struggles, nobody wins. But as the saying goes from A Course in Miracles, “Would you rather be right or happy?”

According to Brinkman, there are four options that happen in relationships where there are unresolved power struggles

1.  Adios! Start the cycle over. Find someone new with whom to move through chemical soup into power struggles.

2.  Have a silent divorce. Stay together for religious or financial reasons or fear of being alone and become roommates with passion for life atrophying.

3.  Become the Bickersons and fight over everything, constantly injuring each other emotionally.

4.  Start to cooperate with the unconscious agenda and use the volatile situations for growth. Learn techniques to stay connected during conflict and practice reconnection. This is the “becoming a grownup stage” called The Reality Love Stage.

Making Your Relationship Conscious

The next stage is The Reality Love Stage of relationship where we are presented with many challenging opportunities to use each other to put the childhood pain to rest. Like everything we have a fight – there is another growth opportunity. But of course, it is an opportunity only if we choose to make it one. Some couples never reach this stage, switching partners when fighting get too toxic.

A new set of relationship skills and tools are needed to get the Reality Love Stage. Moving past the Power Struggle stage, the couple begins to realize that not only is their job to grow up but their other job is to help their partner grow up.  Imago Therapy presents safe ways of relating to each other that helps both partners feel heard and understood by the other.  It provides a process to travel the path of creating a spiritually conscious union.

Intentional Dialogue – A Way to Keep Connected During Arguments

Intentional Dialogue gives you a process of obtaining The Five Freedoms and the ability to have intimacy that Virginia Satir, pioneer in family therapy talked about. What creates intimacy? What we really want is to be heard and feel safe with our partner. Hendrix’s technique of Intentional Dialogue is a way of relating to your partner when he or she is upset by something that you did. It is a process that keeps the contact going even in times of feeling threat and stress – IT KEEPS THE COUPLE CONNECTED EVEN WHEN THEY DISAGREE! Intentional Dialogue gives the partner the love and attention they need when they most need it.

Sound good? Well you can get it! You and your partner can find the Happy Ever After, after all. That is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children – parents who work together to keep the kindness and love going in their relationship.

But – it takes learning a process of active listening and hard work. It takes resolution from both partners to do Intentional Dialogue when friction starts to build up. It takes being able to be vulnerable and stomach some uncomfortable feelings. It takes you out of your comfort zone into really being REAL!  Ouch! It requires listening and talking from the open heart; now that is scary stuff. The payoff is that you and your partner become a team actively working though the rough spots in your relationship. It makes you conscious in your relationship. You can actually feel closer with your partner after an argument when you stick to the dialogue.

And the technique works in all relationships, not only in romantic relationships. It even works with adolescents! I highly recommend Hendrix and his wife, Helen Hunt’s book on parenting, Giving the Love That Heals.

Want more ideas to help create a healthy, happy family? I carry on my teacher, Virginia Satir’s ideas on creating functional families. Go to my www.angriesout.com web site and scroll down to the articles listed under COUPLES. You will find the latest research on how to achieve happiness in your relationship which is then passed down to security and self-esteem in your children.

Love Signs – Putting Love into It

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right.” – 1stCorinthians 13: 5, 6

In general, people treat you the way you teach them to treat you. Especially teenagers. Like a nasty virus, you have to combat negativity that creeps into your home via those you love most dear in the world. So reestablish your Parent Power. You are in charge as long as you pay the bills in the household. You have the right to establish a set of guidelines for your family to make your home a place where people are safe with each other

So, let’s get some guidelines clear. It is appropriate for you to ask your child to stop speaking with disrespect to you and other family members. It is part of your teaching him to be a functioning human being to by giving guidelines on how to be respectful to others. It is okay for you to confront inappropriate verbal behavior. Inappropriate behaviors are those actions that the world in general will not tolerate and that will keep the child from living a happy life. The major question to ask is “Will the world in general put up with this attitude and behavior?”

Set some enforceable house rules that you call the “Respect Rules” such as “We are a family. In our family, we talk to each other with respect”, “We keep our voices civil,” and “Cussing is not allowed in our family. We are considerate of each other in our home. Yelling will not get you what you want.” And of course, the ever-popular, “No Sniveling.”

love respect positive communication

Set some enforceable house rules that you call the “Respect Rules” such as “We are a family. In our family, we talk to each other with respect”, “We keep our voices civil,” and “Cussing is not allowed in our family. We are considerate of each other in our home. Yelling will not get you what you want.”

Ask your child to agree that everyone will be happier in the family if the Rules of Respect are practiced. If you can swing it, get him to sign his name agreeing to be considerate and go along with the rules on a contract. Everyone in the family should sign their name to the contract. Yes, he may do it grudgingly, but get him to agree so that forever you can say, “But you agreed to these rules” to nip future grousing in the bud.

Give up your parental t-shirt that says “Born to Nag.” Let the family rules be the bad guy not you. Nix the stupid comments you learned from your own parents. Note your own habits of language that tune your youngster out. Some of the things that parents say to try to change the kid factor lose their effectiveness after they have been repeated over and over. Kids tune out to the familiar. They tune into the novel and different.

What do you say that makes that your child to roll his or her eyes and say, “Oh, Mom!” File these comments that distance that put distance between you and your child in the Moron Mom Folder or the Dumb Dad Folder – You are grounded for the entire month. How many times do I have to tell you? Will you ever grow up? If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. (Why tell again? Save your breath.)

Post the rules on that most popular spot in the house – the refrigerator. Post signs saying, “Dripping Sarcasm is Not Allowed.” and “This is an Attitude-Free Zone.” Put your list of “Our Family Rules of Respect” on the refrigerator under the heading “Give Your Attitude some Altitude.”  If you should stumble on some moments of family cooperation (on a good day for your kids), make these signs together so there will be more ownership of the rules.

Then when your child gets snippy, point to a posted rule. Ask, “What is our rule about that?” The rule becomes the “bad guy,” not you as the parent. Remind them they agreed to the rules and you will hold them to their word. Of course, your child can point to the rules when you get out of line and break the rules yourself. This is only fair. It will be a reality check on you to see if you have an attitude problem.

The message to continually give to your youngster is that families who want to be happy have family members who do not disrespect each other. Tell them in many different ways, “Do not dis me. I won’t allow it. And I won’t disrespect you either. This is our no Dis Contract.”

Keep reminding your children “We are a family that supports each other. Kindness spoken here! We cherish each other.” Cherishing pays off across a lifetime of raising your children.

Check out www.TimeToLoveYourself.com for more articles from Lynne Namka to help smooth your family’s relationships.



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