Imago Exercise #3: Change
Couples come to my office because they need change. They feel that something is not right in the relationship or at the very least, because things are not going as well as they would like. If either individual feels this way, then something has to change. Often one person is hoping for their partner to change – if he/she would just change their (behaviours, attitude, words, etc.) everything would be fine. Their partner, of course, is usually saying the same thing and as a result, nothing changes.
Let me share a recent insight I had regarding change.
Change doesn’t necessarily have to take a long time.
Over the Christmas holidays, I watched Charles Dicken’s The Christmas Carol for probably the 25th time but what struck me on this occasion, was that Scrooge changed immediately. Now granted, he had the help of three ghosts; nevertheless, the change, and a very dramatic one, happened overnight. The first ghost, if you remember, showed him his youth. The good times, the fun times, the times when he was, in fact, happy. The second ghost showed him the present, not so much about himself, but about those around him who were happy and celebrating and joyous – his nephew, Tiny Tim’s family, and his former fiancée helping out at a shelter for the poor. The third ghost showed him the consequences of staying on the same path he was on.
In my experience working with couples, generally, the honeymoon stage of the relationship is remembered positively (first ghost). In the present, while things might not be going exactly the way they want them to, they can often look around and see examples of happier couples either in real life or in the media (second ghost). And they usually know that if they keep on the same path, disaster lurks (third ghost).
Now, Scrooge had some pretty strong incentives to change. In the Imago system, one of the incentives to change is in “realizing that your love relationship has a hidden purpose – the healing of childhood wounds and so you learn to value your partner’s needs and wishes as highly as your value your own.” As I stretch to meet my partner’s needs, I am in fact becoming more whole. It is a win-win as we both are being healed.
Like Scrooge, decide to change something today (or at least by tomorrow) that will move the relationship forward. It could be as simple as saying Merry Christmas instead of humbug. Also could be stretching to meet one of your partner’s needs, but do something.