Last week I told you about Dr. Harville Hendrix’ revolutionary discovery: Marriage partnership is a spiritual path that teaches us more about how to love than any book, lecture or religious ritual. The pain, emptiness, and hopelessness of marriage is actually growth trying to happen. But how?
This week I will show you the four key action steps to help you embark on this adventure of a “conscious marriage”.
Key #1: Embrace “differentiation”, surrender “symbiosis”. Say, what? Brain science has shown that falling in love immediately creates a (false) mental picture of our partner as “my soul mate, my unique source of life” (i.e., symbiosis). Ironically our brain first confidently creates this false inner picture of the perfect partner, then, when conflict comes, trades that for an equally inaccurate, negative picture of a total loser (“I can’t believe I married her!”). Both images are dead wrong. The delusion of symbiosis usually sounds like this: “I know who my partner is and I know they will never change.”
Here’s the reality: Humans are spectacular mysteries. Your partner is a mystery. And you are a mystery. Yet, partners can help each other to wake up to the miracle of who they really are! This healthy process of becoming who we are is called differentiation. How do we do it?
• Look at pictures of your partner when they were young and get curious about the powerful experiences that formed them before they even met you.
• Actively recreate their love map, an amalgam of memories, preferences and dreams that make them unique. Here is a great example.
• Ask your partner good questions and listen like a champion. Hendrix and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt, believe the Imago Dialogue is the most powerful way to activate differentiation.
Key #2: Make the “Zero Negativity Pledge”. This means that we replace all criticisms, complaining, and venting with authentic sharing of feelings and simple requests. This is a game-changer and easier than you think. So, for example, rather than complaining that you aren’t having enough sex (a sure way to kill your partner’s sex drive) try sharing a few romantic memories, your current desire to reconnect sexually, and then invite open dialogue for your partner to share their experience.
Key #3: Bathe your relationship in positivity, gratitude and appreciations. The most powerful choice we have (and rarely maximize) is our freedom to focus our attention. Choose to notice and share what you appreciate about your partner and family, and watch the makeover begin! The brain science cliché is real: What you choose to focus on becomes your destiny!
Key #4: If your relationship is dead find a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist to help. We don’t get better at golf or tennis by watching movies, reading books, and journaling. Same with partnerships. Skill is required. And the only way to get better is to work with someone who knows how to teach the necessary skills. If you need help, get it!
Can your partnership use a little revolution? Why not pick two action steps from above and get your revolution started!