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What Is Imago?

"Should be required prior to marriage."
-Doug B., married 10 years

"This will change our relationship from this day forward. I haven't had this much hope in 15 years."
-Dan S., married 16 years

photo Getting the Love You Want Bonnie Brinkman and Harville Hendrix

Harville and Bonnie

Imago Relationship theory was created by Dr. Harville Hendrix, author of the best-selling Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples (1988). “Imago” is the Latin word for image.

All of us, no matter how wonderful or how awful our parents and caretakers were, have some needs that were unmet or not met enough. We all received messages from families, schools, religions, and cultures that parts of ourselves had to be put away for us to be acceptable and loved.

Simply put, there is often a connection between early childhood experiences and the frustrations experienced in adult relationships. For example: If you frequently felt criticized as a child, you will likely be sensitive to any criticism from, and feel criticized often by your partner. Likewise, if you felt abandoned, smothered, neglected, these feelings will likely come up in your marriage/committed relationship.

Most people face only a few of these “core issues,” but they typically arise again and again within marriages/committed relationships. This can overshadow all that is good in the relationship, leaving people to wonder if they have chosen the right mate. So here is the good news: When you can understand each other’s feelings and “childhood wounds” more empathically, you can begin to heal yourself and your relationship, and move toward a healthier life together.

Cincy Relationships can get you started by coaching you in the Imago Dialogue process, as you move from blame and reactivity to understanding and empathy. With this process, you can transform conflicts into opportunities for healing and growth, and connect more deeply and lovingly with your intimate partner.

“This is the link that taught me how to interact with my husband after years of individual therapy.”
-Carla, married 25 years

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