Frequently Asked Questions
1. My partner refuses to come to therapy. He says I am the one with the problem. How can I get him to see his part?
Stop trying to get your partner to see his part. It only makes him more defensive. If you turn the focus of your attention around to yourself and keep it there he will begin to relax. You don't need his cooperation to work on the relationship. You can do a great deal on your own and these new actions will have a dramatic effect on him. He will not be able to resist positive changes. For starters, replace all criticism with appreciations, and stop talking about the problems in the relationship. Begin the work without him and he will want to join the process.
2. What if we don't know if we are right together? Would this help us find out?
Imago therapy is one of the best ways to find out. Often the very problems in our relationship are evidence that we have chosen the right person. If not, nothing will make this more clear than doing the work. Couples sometimes use the twelve sessions as a period of discernment. And until you understand why you chose each other you will end up repeating the same kind of choice.
3. We've been to three therapists and all we do is take our fight to their office. Why expect this to be any different?
Emotional safety is the number one priority of imago therapy. From the first moment you will enter a structure in which fighting and arguing cannot occur. You and your partner will practice this structure at home during the week between sessions, thereby bringing the initial safety of the office into the rest of your life.
4. Everything was great for the first year. It's been hell ever since. Is it possible to ever get that back?
All committed relationships follow a similar course from one stage of development to another. The first stage is Romance. This honeymoon period can last from two weeks to a year. The next stage is the Power Struggle, when disappointment and anger set in. This is a normal and necessary course of events. At this stage many couples conclude that they made a mistake and chose the wrong partner. Actually, the reverse is true. But in order to move out of the power struggle it is necessary to understand what it is trying to accomplish. Couples who are committed to doing the psychological work of marriage can revive the romance of the beginning with the added wisdom of knowing why they are together and how to keep it fresh and exciting.
5. What if we have decided to divorce?
Most couples divorce because they don't have the knowledge or skill to move out of the power struggle. It appears as if there is no other option. Divorce is therefore not a free choice, but determined by lack of information. This kind of divorce will prompt two undesirable outcomes: 1. You will find yourself in the same situation in the near future with a new partner. 2. You will be vulnerable to haunting regret. Conscious divorce is a process that deepens self-understanding, eliminates blame, and minimizes injury to everyone. Being in imago therapy for divorce is just as compelling as being in it to stay married.
6. Are you a certified imago relationship therapist?
We are both certified Imago Relationship Therapists. Duane was trained by Harville Hendrix in 1991 and has been an active member of the Imago international community ever since. Thea additionally was trained by both Harville and Helen Lakely Hunt as a certified facilitator in Safe Conversations, a global movement designed to assist couples, communities and nations. She has served on the board of Imago Relationships International. We are both clinical members of AAMFT (American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy) and CAMFT (California Association of Marriage & Family therapy).