The bestselling book, "Getting the Love You Want” written by Harville Hendrix, teaches couples a powerful form of healing that Hendrix calls Imago Relationship Therapy. This theory says that we never choose our partner by accident.
Our mate, for good or bad, helps us to heal from our childhood wounds, helps us to grow as a person and if we let them, becomes the one person ideally suited to propel us into adulthood. Attraction to a mate is based on our almost totally unconscious capacity to choose a partner who brings out the parts of us that are the most vulnerable and sensitive, and frankly, those we are the most blind to. The person we choose as a partner is ideally suited to help us find those places within us that need healing.
I can tell you that it is no mistake that we are with the person we have chosen, even though on certain days it can feel like we have made the biggest mistakes of our lives. Our partner helps us to find those places within that need love and tenderness. And we choose the perfect person to help us get that love that we need. We choose our mate because they help us finish off the unfinished business of our childhood. If we can make this person love us in the way we have always needed to be loved, then we imagine that finally, we will feel whole, cherished and adored in the way we have always longed to feel.
As adults, we want to feel like the most important person to that one special person. Sort of like we did when we were children and had that unique, exalted place with a mother. As adults, we assume that our spouse should love us unconditionally, like our mother or father did in the past (or like we wanted them to).
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Yet, marriage and committed partnership is not unconditional. There are conditions to marriage. And although we promise to love each other regardless of our foibles and limitations, those frustrations become a power struggle almost from the moment the honeymoon ends.
And yet it is those very frustrations of a serious committed partnership that hold the key to our own growth. The things that your partner finds annoying about you may actually be the things in you that need changing. (I know, this is not what you want to hear. It is so much easier to blame them for their faults) Perhaps your partner sees in you the things that you need to change in order to grow into your highest and most developed self, and in the best of all worlds, in their most loving and gentle way, they place that gift in front of you in order for you to grow as a person.
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However, in reality, most of us don’t present the gift well. We yell and scream and with our own frustrations and abandonment fears we demand that our partner change in order for us to be happy. And we all know how well that works.
And yet, we know somewhere deep down, that we chose this person because they hold the key to our emotional and developmental growth. We took on this relationship challenge because they are the perfect person to help us grow into our highest selves. But we still get really mad when they confront us with the truth – that we need to change parts of ourselves in order to grow into who we need to be - because we know somewhere deep down that they are right. And it is painful and annoying to know that we really do have to change something in ourselves.