When we received love and attention and acceptance from our spouse early in the relationship it felt wonderful, amazing, sublime! Time passes and the relationship evolves and for many couples hurt and anger arises. In response, we unconsciously do what we used to do when we were children to get love and attention: yell, withdraw, people-please, manipulate, strive to be perfect, pout, the list goes on. The relationship is now in a difficulty stage and it's a cry for connection. We long to feel connected to our spouse the way we used to and feel the love, attention and acceptance once again. Without realizing it, we are doing what we know how to do in order to get love and attention. Ironically, doing these things gets us the opposite of what we want. Although we long for connection, we are unconsciously sabotaging ourselves from getting it.
As adults, we need to find new ways to get the love, attention, and connection we desire. Imago Relationship Therapy helps us accomplish this by teaching couples to use language as a tool of connection and by helping couples reconnect in fun and meaningful ways.
Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt created Imago out of their therapeutic work with couples and work on their own relationship. Their book, Getting The Love You Want, details this process and is a New York Times bestseller.
Imago therapy teaches couples to choose words with the intention of connecting with their spouse. “Connection,” in this case, means talking openly about ourselves with our partner and listening when they talk openly about themselves. The marriage is a safe place. It is safe because both partners seek to understand each other in an environment free of blame, shame, and criticism. We feel connected to our spouse, we have their attention, and we feel loved.
In my work with couples, I help them create a loving and connected relationship by:
- Defining their ideal relationship
- Getting into the habit of appreciating one another and noticing what’s going well
- Choosing words with the purpose of increasing connection
- Learning to truly listen to their partner and step into his/her shoes
- Finding the caring and empathy they had for one another when they first got together
- Making time for fun and sexual connection so spending time together is pleasurable
- Approaching and resolving conflict as a team working for the benefit of the marriage.
Couples can awaken the love and closeness they used to feel for one another. As Cindy Ricardo, a wise, fellow Imago therapist wrote, “Imago: Create the relationship of your dreams.”
To schedule an appointment to improve your relationship, call 908-246-3074 or email GetSupport@couplestherapycenterofnj.com