Conscious Couplehood: An Imago Approach
Being in a committed, romantic partnership is hard work. We know we are with the right person not only when we feel good, but especially when our buttons get pushed in just the right way. In Imago relationship theory, it is believed that there is an unconscious agenda at play – that we pick our particular partners in order to finish the business of our childhood. We seek out someone similar to our original caretakers who can potentially give us what we didn’t as children (i.e. warmth, praise, acceptance, love, respect, time). With the right tools, our partner can help us heal from our childhood wounding, thereby restoring the joyful aliveness with which we came into the world. But, because this agenda is unconscious, and because we are carrying around character defenses we’ve built up to protect ourselves against further pain, we tend to react childishly (i.e. yelling, stonewalling, criticizing, blaming, shaming, etc.) in our adult partnerships.
In a conscious relationship we are able to recognize this unconscious agenda and make its completion a conscious intention. The Imago process involves understanding our own wounds and those of our partner, learning new skills and changing our hurtful behavior. This allows us to meet our partners’ needs, restore the lost and denied parts of ourselves and return to our original wholeness.
To move from a reactionary relationship into an intentional relationship, start with creating a relationship vision. A relationship vision is like a road map for your relationship that helps to guide you towards the relationship of your dreams. This week, begin dreaming about your personal vision of your relationship. Establish relationship goals that you and your partner can both support and work toward. Remind yourself of the potential in your relationship and co-create a shared relationship vision that inspires both you and your partner. Bringing intention to our relationships is the first step in receiving the love we want.