Dialogue Often!


When a rupture occurs in the connection between couples, it can be a painful time filled with many emotions.  In Imago theory, the purpose of relationships is to finish our “unfinished childhood business”. Therefore, this rupture can relate back to an unmet need in childhood that is still trying to get met in the current day.

Ninety percent of the struggles occurring within couples are the re-creation of old and unlanguaged hurts from the past that are trying to heal.  In response to these ruptures, couples will further injure their connection with defensive reactions and postures and the cycle of pain continues.

A profound solution to ending this cycle and repairing the rupture is dialogue. This transformational tool is more than a communication tool. It creates a bridge between two very different people and helps each individual to become conscious of the other and how they are impacting one another.  In fact, one begins to recognize that there is an “other” and that the couple is not fused as “one”.

Mirroring is the first step in the process. Becoming a flat mirror and reflecting back to your partner what you are hearing with the same tone and paraphrasing their words will allow their hurt, sadness or anger to be witnessed and seen.  With flat mirroring, there is no distortion or interpretation of what is heard and it is an opportunity for the receiver to be fully present to what is being said. Thus a feeling of safety is created and the sender’s thoughts become reorganized, integrated and coherent. The communication between the couple is then deepened with a question of “Is there more about that?”  This invitation allows for all of the feelings to be conveyed while sharing the information in its entirety. Without this, the receiver has less of a chance of getting the meaning behind the words.  Not only will the sender begin to feel safe again; mirroring also helps the receiver to relax, and understand that their partner is having an emotional experience recreated from childhood. The underlying message that is conveyed through mirroring is “You are an other and I see you” (the way you want to be seen).

Validation is the second part of the dialogue in which the receiver affirms the internal logic of the sender and thus helps the sender to have their own experience and a sense of self. This is a crucial step in the process and sometimes the most challenging. In order to validate your partner’s experience, it is not necessary to invalidate your own. In essence, the partner imagines that he/she is walking across the bridge and sitting in their partners experience for moment in time while affirming and making sense of their partner’s reality. Very often, the experience of being validated will deepen the connection and the message that is conveyed is “I understand that your inner world is different from mine and that is okay.”

The final step in the dialogue is empathy. This third and last step highlights and affirms the feelings around the experience. Once again, the receiver stretches into the experience of their partner and emphasizes his/her feelings. Upon its completion, this process can enhance a message to the sender, one of wholeness and love.

The overall intention behind dialogue is to stay connected while the rupture is being dealt with. A couple then moves from unconscious reactivity to conscious and intentional recommitment of an expression of love.

Love is a decision and preserving love is a choice!

When the conflict arises, you might ask yourself…“mirror or jugular”?  Why not try the mirroring? You might have a new experience, calm your own reactivity and begin to see your partner and your own self more clearly, thus creating the potential for more connection and intimacy.

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