Reality in Relationship

Many of the ideas and practices in Imago Therapy are tried and true theories and methods that have been packaged in a unique way by the genius of Harville Hendrix. The field, however, is dynamic and always changing. If you hear anyone say they have THE ANSWER for all your problems, we strongly suggest you walk away. Ongoing research continually reveals new answers and possible truths that we are testing and evaluating every day in practice.

We wish we could turn back the clock and change whatever made us believe that we should be able to get all our needs met in marriages. We’ve created an illusion that there should be no conflicts if love is to be considered "right." This high expectation causes us a lot of pain and discouragement. In reality, we enter relationships as incomplete beings in process. Most of us are not well prepared to interact in a close, intimate relationship with someone who is, like us, still "growing up".

It helps if we accept that we will always be different in some ways. It helps if we can accept that disagreement and even some discord is an inevitable part of relationships. What we can do is learn skills and attitudes that make these discords growthful rather than destructive and wounding. We can learn how to approach each other with respect for our differences so that friendship is preserved. We can learn how to understand each other and deeply care about the different internal "worlds" we live in.

When we injure each other, we encourage you to attempt to "repair" those wounds; and, when our partner makes a repair attempt, it is in our best interest to accept and appreciate it. This interaction does much to protect and maintain the friendship that fuels every committed relationship.

From Differences to Connection

It seems there is, within a worldwide belief system, a conviction that the most effective way to influence people toward change, agreement, and cooperation requires the use of intimidation and the infliction of emotional or physical pain. Somewhere along the path of our evolution we lost trust in each other's basic goodwill and love-oriented nature. In our differing visions of what is right or wrong, good or bad, effective or destructive, we seem inclined to seek resolutions based on force, ardent debate, or outright assault.

Individually, we tend to believe that we know THE TRUTH and that anyone with a different perspective must therefore be "wrong." We have come to believe that being wrong makes us "less than" or unworthy of acceptance and love. We, therefore, strive for "rightness" as if the consequences are a matter of life and death.

Professional observation and research has begun to demonstrate how sad this state of affairs is. Such a method of interaction seems to be woven into the very fabric of our interpersonal relationships. This is especially unfortunate at the level of our most intimate, committed relationships. A question often put to warring couples is: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?"

The purpose of dialogue as it is taught in Imago Therapy is to bridge differences in such a way that even radically opposite points of view can be held and embraced in such a way that connection is not injured and opposing beliefs can literally become the "juice" out of which deeper connection and individual growth can occur. Being different is not "grounds for divorce." Differences do not cause pain; it is what we do with them that leads to suffering or to bonding. The choice is up to each one of us.