Posts Tagged ‘imago dialogue’

The greatest Valentine’s Day gift ever!! Quality time together

February 11, 2013

Don’t let your job or the kids or volunteer work or time with friends and extended family interfere with your committed relationship.

Many couples today find that being together doesn’t guarantee that they will have quality time with one another. If you are both busy, you have to plan to spend time together. Here are some ideas.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Varies

What you need:  commitment and a calendar!

Here’s How:

  1. Schedule a weekend just for the two of you. Write it on your calendar, put it on your computer planner, etc. Don’t change it for any other event. You don’t have to go anywhere.
  2. Have lunch together once a week. On nice days, meet in a park.
  3. Let your children know that you two need time alone together. Tell them they can knock on your closed bedroom door only if there is blood.
  4. Walk around the block together.
  5. Do chores together like the dishes or weeding. It may not sound like quality time, but it can be.
  6. When you are running errands together, turn off the radio or CD player in the car and talk with one another.
  7. Take showers together.
  8. Spend 20 minutes a day in daily Imago dialogue. “How do I feel about today?” is a standard dialogue question. Remember, dialogue is a gift you give to one another. However, it is a gift with no strings attached.
  9. Arrange for a quiet evening at home alone once a month.
  10. Hire a babysitter to watch the kids for a couple hours even though you are home. This works wonders!
  11. Work out a deal with another couple to have them watch your kids overnight so you can have a romantic evening alone … then you watch their children for them.
  12. Schedule dates with one another. Having an evening or afternoon out together twice a month is a good beginning.
  13. Think about coming to one of Imago Vancouver’s updates for graduates of the Getting the Love You Want workshops.
  14. When you travel together, don’t take work on the plane or road trip. Spend that time talking with each other.
  15. Have a one-night stand with each other.

Bottom line: if you don’t schedule time for one another, you won’t have the time.

Dare ya –

What are you going to do to schedule a quality time date with your beloved? (Remember don’t wait for your partner to do it. You do it. Life happens while you are waiting).

Yours truly on Valentines 2013,


The Problem with Holding Onto Hurt Feelings in Your Relationship

October 11, 2012

This post was written by Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT. Lisa is the creator of The Toolbox and author of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples and The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples.  She is a frequent consultant for the media and has been interviewed, quoted or has appeared in numerous publications and online news sources including,, Shape Magazine and Martha Stewart Weddings.  See more marriage and relationship tips by Lisa.

An ideal relationship is one where there are two lines of open communication, where both feel safe to “be” and there are no “monsters” lurking under the radar.  One type of relationship monster is one that is born out of hurt feelings and/or anger that has decided to lurk in the shadows rather than come out; when your pain is not expressed.  You may believe you are making a better choice in “letting it go” or minimizing your feelings.  If you tend to hold onto hurt feelings in your relationship, you and your partner may have an even bigger problem on your hands down the line.

What are some of the consequences of holding in hurt/angry feelings?

  • Your baseline of sensitivity to your partner may rise.  Feelings are still there as much as you think you have buried them. They can come out in other ways that often having nothing to do with the original incident.  You may react on a bigger scale to smaller things, leaving your partner at a loss as to “where that came from.”
  • The emotional safety in your relationship will be eroded. If you choose to sit on your feelings, inherently the comfort you feel with your partner will be diminished.  There will be a wound that you never allowed the chance to heal.  This will compromise the stability of your relationship as you possibly pull away (likely without even realizing it).
  • Your partner isn’t allowed to make a repair attempt.  If your partner inadvertently did something to upset you and would want to know if that occurred, they won’t.  They may not have any idea they hurt you and if so, certainly wouldn’t be allowed the opportunity to apologize.  Couples who are good at communicating their pain and making repair attempts are typically happier.
  • Your relationship may become disconnected.  The more resentment and distress that is carried in a relationship (by one or both), the more an emotional gap can grow between the couple.
  • Your pain may lead to relationship-damaging acting out.  Affairs often happen when there are unresolved relationship issues.  If you are not getting your needs met or you have underlying anger or sadness, you are at risk for making choices that can do further harm.  It’s better to put the issues on the table rather than let too much time and unprocessed feelings get the best of you.
  • You may be wrong!  If you are feeling hurt about something you assumed your partner meant and you didn’t clarify – but rather said nothing – you could be in pain for no reason!  Not only are you suffering but your partner may suffer for something that didn’t happen.
  • Holding onto hurt feelings can show up in your body.  People who internalize their emotions can run the risk of psychosomatic symptoms; physical ways the pain expresses itself.  Examples of this are chronic headaches, stomach issues and rapid heartbeat (panic attacks).

There are lots of reasons we struggle with communicating difficult emotions.  Most of us have experiences in our family of origin or past relationships that have taught us it is safer to stuff feelings than express them.  If only it were true that we can pack our feelings into a box and nail the lid shut and NOT have it backfire.  Unfortunately, pain has a way of becoming a “monster” as it tries to break free to be heard.  And it will.

But we know a safe, structured way that allows us to speak to our partner and it is—you know it—the Imago dialogue.

Dare y’a:

What hurt feelings are you holding onto? Why? Here’s a weird question…What do YOU get out of holding onto hurt? For example, some people hold onto hurt because it allows them to feel better than their partner and feel righteously resentful. For some it’s plain old pride! What might be your reason? What is one step you could take to find the courage to let go of your hurt?

If you hold onto hurt you will just keep feeling worse and angry and the R word.

Remember the heart disease of relationships is the R word RESENTMENT! (A direct quote from Lawrence Pillon stated at all our Getting the Love You Want Workshops).

Yours truly,


Why The Path To Self-Actualization Is Through Your Spouse

June 7, 2011

This week we bring you another wonderful guest post by Imago Executive Director, Tim Atkinson that originally appeared on

For Jane, marriage was great once. When she was in her 20’s and even early 30’s it felt romantic and satisfying doing all the domestic things together, having kids, creating a home.

Then one day she realized that 15 years of marriage to Robert was stifling her. She didn’t know who she really was any more, except somebody else’s wife and mother. “Who am I? How do I find myself? I’m just in my forties, but my life feels over” she complained.

Robert found her new attitude terrifying. She was changing right in-front of his eyes, from contented wife to spiritual warrior. She would come home from Yoga and talk about the lonely path to self actualization. She emphasized the solitary part. “I’m not preventing you from having a self” he would say. But for Jane, she was beginning to feel the only way she could reclaim her life was to leave the marriage and breathe fresh air alone.

When the couple came to me for marriage counseling, I gave Jane a challenge. “Do you want to know the best chance to discover who you really are?” I asked her. I explained to her that being free of her relationship might help her feel better, but the best path to personal growth is actually to stay with the one you love. Being alone is emotionally easy, so it doesn’t create growth. You can just choose to hang out with people who say nice things about you, and avoid the others. It’s your significant other who has the power to push all your buttons and also give you more of what you need to heal. The trick is being able to use this experience in a positive way. If Jane left Robert, she would cut off her own potential for growth.

At the heart of Imago Couples Therapy is a belief that the purpose of committed relationships is to enable each partner to develop to their fullest potential. Even conflict, rather than being an entirely negative force, is seen as just a sign that growth is trying to happen.

Here are five steps that helped Robert and Jane build a stronger relationship and meet their deepest needs together:

1. Be clear about the purpose of your relationship

Take a while to look at your relationship as an amazing opportunity to help you both reach your full potential. Explore your differences together, in a constructive way, and you can find ways in which you can help each other to grow. The partner who is spiritual and deep can help their more emotionally reserved partner see more magic in the world. The partner who is safe and dependable can help their more extravagant partner learn to be comfortable with financial planning.

2. Create a vision for your relationship

If you are traveling a road together, it’s so much better to be pulling in the same direction. Spend some time looking at what you both most want out of your life together. Ask your partner to talk about their dreams, and without commenting on them, simply mirror back their words to show you have heard them. You will find that as the list grows some things you will both want, and some you will be happy for your partner to have.

3. Learn about non-blaming

It’s easy for Jane to blame Robert for the limitations in her life. Instead she learned about how he could be the strongest resource she has for self-growth. The Imago Dialogue offers a way to explore your differences with your partner, in a non-judgmental way. By looking at the stories and your personal histories which lie underneath conflicts, you can learn more about each other. Often that leads to finding ways you can each stretch into new ways of being, but with the full loving support of your partner.

4. Be patient.

Back to Jane, who is wrestling with some difficult issues, which aren’t going to be solved overnight. Robert would love the security of knowing that it’s all going to be alright in the end. That’s where it is important for both partners to take time to let each other know how much they love each other, whatever the outcome. One great way is through the Imago appreciation dialogue.

Robert might start by saying “Jane, I really appreciated the great meal you cooked tonight”, and Jane would reply in a way which builds a connection around that, like “I hear you appreciated that meal, thank you.”

5. Pay attention to the other’s needs

Jane is looking for a radical change in her relationship both to life and to Robert. She is feeling stifled in some way, so however hard it may feel, Robert must try to learn about what she is really needing from him, and to see how in a loving way he can stretch to meet those needs. In the same way, Jane can learn to grow by stretching to understand and meet Robert’s needs more.

This part can be particularly successful with an Imago professional who is skilled at creating safe and supportive dialogues about things which really matter. But the secret is to become really curious about your partner, and as they talk about their needs, or even their frustrations, just listen. If you speak at all, it might be to show you have heard, by repeating it back, or by gently asking them to go a little deeper and share more.

Keep your focus on what it is that is going on for your partner, and try to let go of whatever reactions you have, because they will just obscure your ability to see what it is that is happening for them. This kind of listening and acceptance is the start of  deep and loving growth.

Yes, Jane can have her life back, but together with Robert she can find ways to have it back that are both deeply loving and shared. On her Imago journey with Robert she has discovered herself more fully. She even feels more romantic just like she used to. They both feel more secure within the relationship.