Imago is a system of dialogue and communication developed by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt. It is described in their book, Getting the Love You Want. This book is for couples, who are working through the Power Struggle stage in their relationship, and wanting to get to a place of deeper, abiding love, healing and support. They often say that they are healing the world one couple at a time.
We are born as whole, lovely, vibrant, energetic little people. During our early life, our needs that are not met by parents or other caretakers, who could not possibly meet all our needs, are filed in the subconscious, and we form an image in our mind of the person that could help us heal these early wounds. People are wounded in different ways, and at different developmental stages of their lives. This image that they hold in their subconscious is called The Imago.
People respond to their woundedness by withdrawing or becoming bigger and more intrusive. This sets off a series of events that often spiral out of control and recreate a situation that they lived through earlier in life. Certainly the feelings get echoed through other events and circumstances. When we over-react to circumstances in the present, we are usually reacting to something from the past. Connecting with those feelings, and that early woundedness is important to being able to understand yourself and your partner.
Relationships have stages. The first stage is called Attraction, which is lovely and has lots of bonding hormones being released, and feels kind of euphoric. You have found your Imago. At some point, you will move into the second stage, which is called the Power Struggle. This is a necessary part of relationships, and many couples get stuck at this stage, or they give up at this time. That’s really unfortunate, because this is where the real work starts in a relationship. We are often seduced, by the media and Hollywood, that make life and relationships appear magical, instead of the work that they actually are. They need to be attended to if we want them to flourish.
If you learn to work through the second stage, you will get to the third stage, which is Abiding and Deep Love.
Books by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt and other related authors are available through your local bookstore. Some of the titles are:
Getting the Love You Want
Keeping the Love You Find
The Couples Companion for Getting the Love You Want
Make Up, Don’t Break Up by Dr Bonnie Eaker Weil
Giving the Love That Heals
Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build by Stan Tatkin
Making Marriage Simple: Ten Truths for Changing the Relationship You Have Into the One You Want
Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself be Loved
Marriage As a Path to Wholeness
Loving Your Partner Without Losing Your Self by Martha Baldwin Beveridge
You can learn these skills in therapy, and can attend couple’s workshops, which are offered regularly in various locations around the world. You can find workshops by checking out the Imago Relationships International website, or by contacting me at wendy at comingintolife.com. I’ll put you in touch with whoever is offering these locally. In Toronto, there is a therapist/trainer who has started running workshops specifically for couples dealing with addiction as well. We will find something that fits for you.