Here's your Monthly Digest packed full of amazing Imago Relationship Blog posts and Relationship Tips. Learn how to grow your love, how to repair trust, discover why your sex life may not be satisfying, refresher tips on how to be social and why it matters, how to listen to nurture your loved ones, race relations in America and much more!
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Many clients come in the first time for relationship advice after they’ve already gotten to a place where it’s too difficult to see the positive in one another any longer. Does all this sound familiar?
If you’re having these feelings (or possibly a lack thereof) about each other, this is entirely normal. So, let’s bring the good back into your relationship, set aside any negativity with one shift in your relationship that takes only a few minutes every week. This alone could slowly dissolve the thick cloud that seems to hang over you both.
If you are ready, then we want to introduce you and your partner to the practice of “Positive Flooding.”
This is a simple and easy process you can add to your relationship each week, which is similar to appreciations. Each partner will benefit tremendously, and it can even transform your relationship! Positive flooding is easy and takes only minutes each week. When you positively flood someone, it means exactly that. This practice involves dedicating 5-15 minutes each week (some couples even use a timer) for one partner to shower the other with positivity.
As a Marital Therapist, I say to couples, "When an issue comes knocking more than two times in your life, and it comes with a certain amount of intensity, it is because it has long tentacles that reach way back into the childhood (unconscious) agenda and it's showing up today so that it can be acknowledged, dealt with and eventually healed. This is a process, not an event."
What is unfinished from the past is reborn in the present. These racially fueled killings and violence continue to come knocking in present-day life with such robust intensity because we haven't dealt with racism at its root — individually or at the group level.
Social change requires us to dive below our old habit-songs, automatic knee-jerk responses, defenses— underneath the words themselves — to examine our conditioning. The interconnected framework of reality points us towards ultimate reality. Relational reality is the poignant elixir that makes ultimate reality possible — and we cannot know ultimate reality outside of our own bodily experiences.
A client of mine was at the pharmacy recently, and they had marked off 6 feet increments with yellow tape. The person behind her, who had a small child with her, was disregarding the distance. When my client asked in a very courteous way (she's a very kind person) to please stand further back, the woman rolled her eyes and said, "I'm fine, this is good enough."
When moments like this occur in human interactions, it always makes me wonder what kind of home they grew up in as a child. What was modeled for them from their parents? What social behaviors are they modeling for their children?
These moments make me feel that it's in parenting children on our planet where we can all learn kinder and more compassionate social skills that transform our world for the better. I wonder if the intense negativity of the world is simply getting reflected in what is happening now, and it got me thinking again about what social skills I wish everyone practiced.
Can you pass the social skills test? Yes, even in a Pandemic!
Is there a pattern here? Couples coming to me for the first time will be asked this question - “When was the last time you two had sex and was it satisfying?”
I usually tell them that some therapists say that “if you fix the sex, the rest will follow,” and others say: “if you fix the (fill in the blank…communication, conflict resolution, intimacy, etc.) the sex will follow.”
I say it doesn’t matter whether you start with sex or communication, the patterns that hinder connection play out in all areas of the relationships in how we do the following:
It seems to me that the pattern is most easily identified in the sexual realm. Everyone seems to know what is and is not working for them sexually, whether or not they have shared this with their partner.
As a Marriage Therapist, one of the hardest things I encounter is a couple where trust has been broken. One partner is typically heartbroken and angry, while the other is guilty and scared. Both partners generally feel helpless.
Has the trust been broken in your relationship?
If so, are you wondering if it’s possible to rebuild the trust?
How long will it take to rebuild trust?
Or where to begin to rebuild the trust?
Have you recently discovered your partner has an ongoing porn habit? Or, perhaps you have been keeping a secret bank account? This list can go on and on.
Do not listen with the intent to reply, but with the intent to understand. —Anonymous
You can listen to your heart. You can listen to your intuition. You can listen to mantras of religion or stories you’ve been told since childhood.
The listening I am referring to is about how we listen to ourselves and others, which all of the above influence. Without sincere listening, communication breaks down, misunderstandings flare, and a sense of dread and loneliness can cause you to feel frustrated or anxious.
To lessen the problems non-listening creates, here are a few ways to develop and enhance your ability to listen.
When you are genuinely listening to another person, find the takeaway. In other words, look to understand what that person is trying to say?
Avoid reading into or interpreting, tease away your own biases.
When we fall in love, suddenly we see life in technicolor. We nibble each others’ ears and tell each other everything; our limitations and rigidities melt away. We’re sexier, smarter, funnier, more giving. Now we feel whole, we feel like ourselves, we are connected.
But inevitably–whether we marry or move in together– things just start to go wrong. The veil of illusion falls away, and it seems that our partners are different than we thought they were. It turns out they have qualities that we can’t bear. Even qualities we once admired grate on us. Old hurts are reactivated as we realize that our partners cannot or will not love and care for us as they promised. Our dream shatters, and we feel disconnected.
Disillusionment turns to anger. Since our partner no longer willingly gives us what we need, we change tactics, trying to coerce our partners into caring–through anger, crying, withdrawal, shame, intimidation, criticism–whatever works. The power struggle has begun and may go on for many years until we split, or we settle into an uneasy truce, or until we seek help, desperate to feel alive and whole again, to have our dream back and feel reconnected.
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