Imago Relationship Therapy
A key insight is Imago Relationship Therapy. Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt, had all those years ago was that the unconscious image a child forms of their primary caretakers (the Imago which is the Latin word for image) – of the person who loves me, who takes care of me, who meets all my needs – tends to influence mate selection down the line. And because your parents weren’t perfect, you are not perfect,
I am not perfect, inevitably that image or imprint will have both the positive but also the negative traits of those primary caretakers. And, it tends to be the negative traits that cause problems in the relationship because they tap into needs that didn’t get met the first time around and here they are showing up in the relationship again. This is not about blaming parents – all parents do the best they can do, but we just haven’t yet figured out how to meet all of our children’s needs all the time.
The key is to be aware, to be conscious. Think about it. If my partner did not get certain needs met growing up, in her case it was her emotional needs, and then marries me who wasn’t able to meet her very legitimate emotional needs because of my upbringing, will those needs ever get met. Not if it stays unconscious. But, if I can reframe that situation as a positive, then it becomes a win-win. As I stretch to meet her legitimate emotional needs, a regain a part of me that was stunted growing up. It really is a win-win.
2 questions to ask yourself
1) Why are you with your partner, this particular man or woman?
Most guys will have met other women, and most women will have met other men, so why the two of you? Not a bad question really. Why am I with Crystal, why is anybody with anybody? But here is the other question.
2) Can you remember when you first met your partner?
Everyone I ask that question of can. I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can remember 50 years ago when I first met Crystal. I think, unconsciously, we recognize something familiar. I can’t prove it, but I see it every day in the office. My point is – you are with the right person but be aware that for your relationship to work well, you both have to be willing to grow into areas that are probably your weak suits, just as I had to stretch my feeling function to meet Crystal’s legitimate feeling needs.
Relationship Tip 10
Don’t be surprised when a need that didn’t get met well in childhood shows up in the relationship. Make an appointment and have a dialogue, using the Safe Conversation process, with your partner about it.