This post has been kindly shared by Imago Relationships International.
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Oprah writes about how she saw her relationships in a completely new light after the 1988 TV show, when Harville taught that “you’re unconsciously drawn to your partner, because that person can heal your old unresolved wounds.” Oprah saw that a relationship is more than a romance. It’s a Spiritual Partnership, about growth and healing.
In 2005 Harville was dubbed “The Marriage Whisperer” in an Oprah magazine article, in which he is quoted as saying ”For most couples, the romantic interlude of a new relationship leads to an inevitable truth, a slow discovery of the other as ‘not the person I thought he was.’ The breaking of that illusion is one of the most shocking and terrifying experiences of married life.” Harville explains “In this power struggle, partners move from courtship into coercion, trying to get each other to surrender their otherness.”
Fortunately the relationship needn’t end in that power struggle. Harville and his partner Helen LaKelly Hunt developed Imago to help couples move into a stage of romance they call simply “true love”. In a 2001 Oprah article, Harville explains how to use the Imago dialogue approach of mirroring, validating and empathising to work through the power struggle, and restore connection. Maybe that is why Oprah has occasionally let slip on TV that Harville is among her favorite couples therapists. Imago not only makes relationships clear and easy to understand, it provides couples with practical solutions that they can apply too. You can find some great information about Imago on the Oprah site, with practical guides on how to restore the romance to your relationship.
Harville’s message has had such a powerful influence on Oprah that in the intervening years she has invited him back to her show 17 times. In May 2011 when she reviewed her 25 greatest lessons from the show, Oprah described a 1993 show which changed her relationship with her partner Stedman, and attributed the survival of their relationship to Harville’s insights.
The Oprah magazine has brought some of Harville and Helen’s newer work to the public attention too, such as their work together on Receiving Love. In a touching personal article for the magazine, Helen shares her “Aha” moment when she and Harville were also struggling in their relationship, and discovering together just how hard many couples find it to actually let love into their hearts and overcome the resistance that often stems from deep rooted self-hatred.
“The common wisdom,” Harville and Helen write, “is that romantic relationships would stay happy if people did a better job of giving to each other. But that’s not what we’ve discovered. We’ve found that many people need to do a better job of receiving the gifts their partners are already offering.”
With 25 years of Imago on the Oprah show to celebrate, there’s new discoveries still emerging from Harville, Helen and the thousand or more professional therapists they have trained around the world.
Imago Relationships International congratulates Oprah Winfrey on 25 years of her show, and appreciates all that she has done to bring deeper connection to many couples, and thereby help bring peace to the world.