“Being in a committed intimate relationship is the hardest thing any of us will ever do”, repeats Rebecca Sears, my Imago teacher, over and over again in her trainings. It’s good to know that, so that we don’t feel we have failed, when our relationships get difficult. I certainly did feel like a failure a few years before my marriage ended. I could not wrap my head around the fact that two smart and nice people, who had entered their relationship with the best of intentions, simply couldn’t make it work. We just couldn’t recover from our crisis!
My ex-husband and I went to a (non-imago) therapist, hoping to save our marriage, and we had a terrible experience. Sometimes therapy does more harm than good, and that was the case for us. The therapist ‘interrogated’ both of us and a few sessions later gave her judgement, „you should get divorced.“ I was extremely disappointed and hurt. I trusted the therapist by going to her and by telling her our stories. We had expressed very clearly that we wanted to save our marriage. A few months later we decided to take her advice and we got divorced.
Parenting with Imago
The divorce was hard, as they tend to be, and it was especially hard for my son, who was 8 years old back then. He started to act out and I found it impossible to communicate with him. I couldn’t even express my love and concern to him without us getting into a fight. I asked a friend of mine for a recommendation for a mediator, a negotiator, someone who could help me and my son talk to each other again. I was referred to an Imago relationships’ therapist Sille Jõgeva. These 3-4 sessions we took with Sille literally changed everything in my life.
My son and I were able to feel connected again. Even though we had some difficult issues to discuss – divorce and parenting, his behaviour, his reactions and pain, it didn’t feel so terrible anymore. Now we were together in the pain and fear, trying to make sense of this new divorced life together. He is a teenager now, and maybe not the easiest kid in the world, but I’m not the easiest mom in the world either – I travel a lot, and I work irregular hours. Still I feel good about the fact that we can talk to each other. We live and grow together, trusting that we always have the best intentions towards each other.
“What if I had known about Imago before… could it have saved my marriage?”
After having these two experiences with therapy – one that broke a relationship and one (Imago relationships’ therapy) that healed a relationship, I decided to become a certified Imago therapist myself. During my studies, I learnt how to restore connection and intimacy through Imago dialogue, so that partners can be each others best therapists, inspiring healing and growth. I kept on wondering, what if … What if we had gone to Imago therapy, instead of the regular one, could we have saved our marriage?
Now, after years of working with couples, and giving “Getting the Love You Want” workshops, I would answer like this: If we had gone to Imago therapy when our problems first occurred – that was about 3-4 years before the divorce – we probably would have been able to learn and grow enough to make our relationship truly nurturing. If we had gone to Imago therapy at the time when we actually went to non-Imago therapy (about a year before the divorce), we would have still divorced, but with the help of Imago, the divorce itself and the post-divorce relationships would have been completely different.
“How cool it would be to have Imago in your relationship from the very beginning!,” is an exclamation therapists hear from couples when they have their first experiences with the deep healing power of the Imago Dialogue, and when they hear the theory which “makes so much sense”!
I agree – IT IS super cool to start a new relationship with Imago in it from the very beginning. Of course, conflict still hurts, and relationships are still difficult, but with Imago you know exactly WHY it hurts, and what’s good about it hurting (it leads the way to healing and shows us our childhood adaptations that no longer work when we are adults). You also know HOW to make the hurt stop – it takes conscious intentional effort every day.
I’m fortunate enough to be in a relationship with a man who not only wants to make our relationship his first priority, but is also eagerly ready to learn every skill needed for that. One good way to do so is by attending the short “Start right, stay connected” Imago course, but also “Getting the Love You Want”, or “Making Marriage Simple” books are wonderful ways to get the basics.
There is no better way to end a conflict than to reach a deep mutual understanding, “Yes, it makes sense that you experience it this way, I do understand”. Really, it’s not about what is going on in our lives, it’s all about how we relate to each other. We can go through the greatest pains and the greatest pleasures in life experiencing connection or isolation. I choose connection. Always.
If you would like to work on your relationship, IMAGO can help. Imago relationships therapy works both with the couples who face crisis and the couples who wish to deepen the connection and increase the intimacy. Join me in the next Getting the Love You Want workshop in Tallin on 18th and 19th of November 2017. The course is held on Saturday and Sunday from 9AM to 6PM.
With any further questions or comments, please contact me!
+372 5378 9092
The featured image: http://www.thechachaclub.com/blog/