While I now understand that relationships are not by any means plain sailing, surely I can’t be all wrong in the ideal of finding that perfect love connection? After all, doesn’t every teapot have its own lid? ;)
In spite of a failed first marriage and the fact that my second husband is not a romantic by any count, I can’t seem to let go of the idea that the kind of intense love that slays all obstacles in its path and transcends the ugly reality of any situation still exists. I actually still believe in a “happily ever after”!
The pursuit of my very own happy ending has led me down an interesting path – or more of a scenic route really; a path that could’ve perhaps been made easier if I had not fallen in love with a man who is my polar opposite. For example, I am emotionally expressive, he is emotionally reserved. I am communicative, he is restrained. I am a romantic and idealist, he is a pragmatic realist.
Being attracted to a partner who does not share the same attributes or ideals is not uncommon. However, the danger lies in the fact that what often attracts us to our partner in the beginning is what can cause contention in the relationship years down the line.
The psychology behind this can be discovered in Imago Relationship Therapy. Imago is the Latin word for ‘image’. The therapy focuses on the belief that we all have a unique image of familiar love that has developed from birth i.e. how we were loved and felt loved, whether positive or negative, by our parents/caregivers and other significant adults in our childhood.
Dawn J. Lipthrott, LCSW, describes it so well in her article, ‘What is Imago Relationship Therapy, anyway?’
In short, we subconsciously look for a partner who represents the positive and the negatives of the adults from our childhood. One reason is because we want to re-create our past hurts so that we can arrive at a different outcome. This is how seemingly opposite people end up in relationships and marriages without a cooking clue how to address the challenges of viewing life so differently.
According to my own experience, this is how Imago Relationship Therapy has helped – and is still helping – my husband and I to achieve a healthy, balanced and happy marriage. It’s a win-win scenario: a more romantic fairy tale marriage thanks to practical and real solutions.
We had to develop a combined relationship vision. This is now proudly displayed on our fridge and serves as a reminder on what we want to achieve.
We had to acknowledge our caregivers’ positive and negative traits and this meant also remembering buried childhood wounds and frustrations. From there, we could finally see for ourselves how we searched for a partner with similar traits to our caregivers. As our partners cannot give us what we longed for as a child, understanding and recognising this fact is a crucial step in the right direction.
The third step was learning how to effectively communicate and to share our needs with our partner by using tools such as the Couple’s Dialogue and Container Transaction.
Finally, we had to put everything together and self-integrate the aspects of our disowned, lost and false selves to figure out what our true self is. I know it sounds a little weird, but it makes sense when you see how it all fits together.
- The last romantic – part 1 (teatart.com)
- The Attraction of Bad Relationships and Why We End Up in Them (atlantablackstar.com)
- Shacking up (psychologytoday.com)
- Hopeless Romantic (charnelebelle.wordpress.com)