Stepping Back, Getting the Whole Picture

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – Imago therapists don’t always practice what we preach.

Contrary to some of my couples’ expectations, I don’t do the Imago dialogue over dinner each night with my husband. In fact, we don’t always do it when we have a disagreement. Sometimes, I just – gasp – get mad and yell, and don’t listen to his side at all.

So when I read my colleague Ginny Graham’s great Relationship Tip of the Month in our March Soul Matters newsletter, it struck close to home. She wrote about how “healthy couples” strive to be suspicious of frivolous frustrations, the kind which elicit immediate, often ridiculous, overreactions. She explains that these irritations often mask a deeper stress that’s not as simply stated. It’s true that sometimes getting angry when the dishwasher wasn’t emptied can feel much easier than thoughtfully unpacking your anxiety about getting your child into a good preschool program. Ginny reminded me that although healthy relationships often require you to calmly listen to one another, they also require you to calmly listen to yourself, before dragging your partner into an argument that simply covers a worry you haven’t been able to resolve on your own.