According to Harville Hendrix, PhD , Getting the Love you want: A guide for couples, it’s the “picture (image) of the partner who can make one complete and whole again” (image meaning imago in Latin), as in the complex picture of early childhood caregivers. Imago theory implies that we seek for partners who have the potential to help us complete unfinished matters from childhood. Our adult relationships and conflicts seem familiar because they remind us of our early caregivers. These relationships give us new opportunities to heal and transform previous wounds and finding deep relational fulfillment. But this remains an opportunity, not a guarantee.
Our unconscious need is to have our feelings of “aliveness and wholeness” restored by someone reminding us of our early caregivers.
In other words, we are looking for someone who reminds us of our early caregivers.
WHEN WE FALL IN LOVE
So when we fall in love and the world is suddenly perceived as a safe and better place, our old brain tells us that we have found someone who can finally help meet our needs. Unfortunately, since we do not understand what is happening, we are shocked when the terrible truth of our dear surfaces and our first impulse is to escape from the situation.
It seems to be an illusion to believe that it is not normal for relationships to suffer from increasing pressure at times, especially in everyday life. Unaddressed problems and unresolved emotional conflicts can easily contribute to experiences of tension and stress over time, which can make each partner feel exhausted, depressed, desperate, and develop lower self-esteem and lack of confidence. When a relationship is at the breaking point, separation or divorce may seem the only option.
However, talking through problems with an experienced professional psychologist individually as well as together at times of crisis can help you get to the core of conflicts and re-learn how to appreciate each other’s experiences, thoughts and feelings and preventing things to escalate further.
OUR OVERALL GOAL
We have as an overall goal to help couples work towards a more successful relationship where both parties feel stronger together as well as individually! The wish to begin in couples therapy is for many about the desire to manage to move forward, get professional help to put the past behind, not to miss the present and to create a future together!
A Guide For Couples • Canwillbebetter™
We invests time, money and resources in all kinds of material things. We invest in our homes, cars, boats, real estate, retirement planning and technology. We also invest in education and training for our careers. But non of that really matters if our marriage or couple’s relationship is suffering, does it? And yet, it’s less common for couples to prioritize investing in couples therapy. And when we do, it’s often when our relationships are in serious trouble, and almost too late. Studies show that the level of marital and couples happiness is the strongest predictor of overall life satisfaction. And that’s why couples therapy can be the best investment you’ll ever make.
How couples therapy can lead to significant improvements in relationship
Couples counseling and therapy can help in a variety of ways. The most common problems couples seek help for are problems with communication. Couples therapy helps you to understand the root cause of ongoing conflicts and destructive patterns of behavior. Sometimes, seeking help can be about needing professional and neutral advice in regard to significant decision making about the relationship or how to manage and overcome difficulties together in general. In some cases, couples might seek help while undergoing truly challenging events, like separation and divorce or dealing with a traumatic loss.
It is truly hard to deal with relational problems alone. Being emotionally invested and involved makes it hard to hold on to an objective stance. Getting help from a psychologist to guide you through this process in a safe, containing and confidential way is a good investment.
Couples therapy can provide you as a couple with efficient tools and coping skills to handle any conflict in a constructive way as well as helping towards resolving relationship dynamics that can be destructive and toxic.
Why Couples Therapy Can Be The Best Investment You'll Ever Make • Canwillbebetter™
The experience we have with our caregivers and our early life experiences become the lens through which we view our self-worth and our capacity to be empathic, caring, and genuine. As children, our parents are the “all powerful” center of our universe. If they think badly of us, then it must be true and we come to feel that way about ourselves. A child has no perspective from which to cast doubt on this assessment. We then “internalize” their negative opinion and incorporate it into our view of ourselves. If we were regularly criticized or demeaned we can easily develop a damaged sense of self-worth.
When we enter into relationships as adults, both partners bring along all their unresolved conflicts, fears, hurts and expectations. There is a strong tendency to recreate relationships from childhood with our adult partners. At times, these can be neglectful, hurtful and even abusive. These old dysfunctional patterns become indistinguishable from current emotional triggers from the present. A stacking of emotions can occur whereby an event in a current relationship triggers the unleashing of old feelings and reactions, creating a confusion of powerful old hurts and new ones.
If our emotions in a situation are disproportionate to the provocation, we are probably bringing up an old hurt.
The tendency to unconsciously attract relationships that reenact past conflicts and beliefs is called repetition compulsion.
We have an intrinsic drive to repeat familiar patterns, no matter how painful or self-defeating, which is very powerful. For example, adult children of alcoholics frequently marry alcoholics, and an abused child with a high tolerance for maltreatment may grow up and attract high levels of stress and conflict in his/her marriage.
Partners commonly have differences in their attachment styles and internal working models (belief systems). These working models, based on past relationships, guide their current perceptions and construction of reality.
How Your Childhood Affects Your Adult Relationships • Canwillbebetter™