One of the most common issues that is brought into my therapy room by couples is the inability to communicate with each other. It’s as if each partner is speaking a different language that is inaccessible to the other. So what’s going on when you find yourselves in this situation?
A common pattern
When we are talking to our partner about something important to us we often do it in such a way that invites an emotional response from them. If they are not liking what they are hearing they may shout, withdraw or ignore what we are saying which invites an emotional response from us. At this point things often descend into a familiar pattern where there is arguing or one partner takes themselves out of the situation, leaving the other feeling even more angry about what has just happened.
Links to the past
Imago theory suggests that the reason why we choose our partner is to get from them what we did not get from our parents. Often though, this plan is thwarted because we tend to choose a partner that is like our parents in some ways (imago is Latin for idealised image) and as such they are the very type of person who is least likely to meet those needs. The result is conflict as we attempt to manipulate our partner into giving us what we want.
Imago Relationship Therapy teaches a different way of doing things and believes that your partner is the key to your own personal growth. It encourages both partners to talk to each other about the pain they are experiencing and gives a technique, in Imago dialogue, for this to be heard with empathy. Through this different way of talking to each other, both partners are more likely and more willing to drop the defensive behaviour and give to the other – meeting the needs of the relationship in full.