WHEN THE HONEYMOON'S OVER: How to Create a Long-lasting, Loving Relationship
Jacqueline Winter
According to relationship therapist Jacqueline Winter,
falling in love is not as mysterious as we think. That flushed, romantic feeling of being swept off our feet is actually caused by a drug called dopamine which is released in our brain, triggering a physical sense of euphoria.
But like all drugs, the effects eventually wear off. "And that's when we've got the work cut out for us," she says. That's when the conflicts and struggles emerge. And those conflicts, insists Jacqueline, who has been in private practice on Oahu for over a decade, are a critically important stage that every relationship goes through. Most of the time, however, couples don't have a clue how to work with conflict in a safe, supportive way. "That's why the divorce rate is so high," she insists. People end up hurting each other over and over "because they don't know how not to."
"Conflict is actually growth and healing trying to happen."
Jacqueline is a certified Imago relationships therapist, the only one on Oahu. Created by Dr. HaNilie Hendrix, author of the international best-seller Getting the Love You Want, Imago
Therapy theorizes that we're unconsciously drawn to certain people because they possess the positive (and negative)
characteristics of our parents or caregivers. "So we have all this unfinished business from the past," explains Jacqueline. And our spouses provide us with "the extraordinary opportunity," says Jacqueline, "to heal and resolve these old wounds."
What Imago Therapy does then is help couples become more conscious about what's really going on in their rela­tionship at any given moment. So what IS really going on? "Growth and healing," Jacqueline maintains. "Conflict is actually growth and healing trying to happen." In fact, Imago Therapy says that every couple must IT!0ve into this power struggle stage. "That's very important," Jacqueline emphasizes, "because most people feel that conflict is not supposed to be there."
The good news, then, according to Imago Therapy, is not to try and get rid of conflict. "The idea," Jacqueline clarifies, "is to make it work for you instead of against you. Imago Therapy supplies the tools." Those tools are a very specific and powerful way couples learn to talk and listen to one another.
"Newly weds need to understand that love alone isn't enough," says Winter. But with proper communication skills and a willingness to understand your partner, Imago Therapy promises that couples can fall in love again in a deeper and more genuine way. -- Angela Hickman ~
    Intentional Dialogue
    Mirror, then ask:
    Did I Get It?
    Is There More?
    You Make Sense
    What Makes Sense
    I Imagine You Might Feel
Conflict Resources
Imago Therapy
written by: Gina Cheng
Amy Masaoka
University of Hawaii-Manoa
SP 455
“We certify that this is our own work.”
Hidden in a peaceful residential home in Kahala is Hawaii’s only Imago therapy center.  Jacqueline Winter, who is currently the only certified Imago relationship therapist on the island of Oahu, has reignited hundreds of couple’s flames.  Jacqueline is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with a Masters in Social Work from the University of Hawaii – Manoa.  She truly believes in Imago therapy because she practices it daily with her relationships and has watched many people change their life with Imago therapy.  In this paper, we will address the background and history of Imago therapy, its services and functions, how it is relevant to conflict, and the nature of our participation in the organization.
    Imago Therapy has been making waves since it was first developed in the 1980’s.  Since then, it has been noted by celebrities such as talk show queen, Opera Winfrey and recording artist, Alanis Morissette.  According to Jacqueline Winter, Imago Therapy was developed primarily by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D.  Hendrix is the author of Getting The Love You Want: A Guide For Couples, Keeping The Love You Find: A Personal Guide, and Giving The Love That Heals: A Guide For Parents.  In order to become a Licensed Imago therapist, one must be first certified by Imago Relationship International.  Once a therapist is certified, he or she must keep true to the original core theory and process of Imago therapy.  Imago therapy is “the process of giving couples information”.  Furthermore, they teach couples how to reconnect and listen to each other.  They help couples make the unconscious areas of their relationship conscious, address issues from their childhood and help their partner realize their childhood wounds, create emotional safety for each other; just to name a few of it’s tools.  The overall goal of Imago relationship therapy is for both parties to reach a deeper connection between each other.
    Like any other therapy organization, Imago therapy provides therapy for all those who need it and seek it.  They offer a safe environment for the clients to truly express their feelings to one another.  Many people use Imago therapy, those in relationships and those who are single.  Although Imago therapy’s services are the same as other therapy organization, it also has its differences.  Unlike traditional therapy, Imago therapist consults both parties at the same time and act as a mediator between the two so they are talking to each other instead of the therapist.  In traditional therapy, therapist normally sees each individual alone, then offer solutions to their problems.  Imago therapist prefers to let the individuals find their own solution to the issue.  Its purpose is to have the individuals work together, open up to each other, and connect with one another.  They one day hope to have the participants be able to solve all their problems on their own so they do not have to rely on a therapist for the rest of their life.  If there are childhood issues that may play a factor in their relationship, the therapist will address it and reach the root of the issue.  What ever the problem may be, the main function of Imago therapy is to have those seeking help be happy and in love with life (and each other) once again.
    The Individual & Relationship Counseling Center relates to conflict in numerous ways.  A lot of what Jacqueline Winter teaches is things we covered in class.  During the first session of counseling, the couple brings up all their issues that bother them.  The goal is to make sure they feel they are in a “safe place” where they can say anything and everything, without the worry of saying the wrong thing.  Jacqueline stated that everyone should “expect conflict, but be willing to learn from it,” meaning that conflict is inevitable; there’s no way around it, so make it a learning experience.  Imago Therapy is based on having intentional dialogue.  There are three steps in an intentional dialogue:  1) Mirror, 2) Validate, and 3) Empathize.  In Imago Therapy, the first step in the Intentional Dialogue is mirroring your partner; this includes restating everything your partner says.  We talked about the importance of listening when dealing with conflict.  Since listening is such a vital part in resolving conflict, it is completely relevant to conflict.  The second part of the intentional dialogue is validating, which is making sure what is being said makes sense.  Finally, the third step is to empathize, which includes imagining what your partner might be feeling.  We talked about this in our conflict class and how during a conflict, we need to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and try to understand it from their perspective.  As Jackie put it, “we are two different worlds with different perspectives, but I will not annihilate your world because of this difference.”  The Individual & Relationship Counseling Center deals entirely with conflict and how to solve it, and this is why we chose to learn more about this organization.
    We chose to participate in the Individual & Relationship Counseling Center because it sounded very interesting.  Plus, majority of what we talk about in lecture deals with conflict in personal relationships, which is exactly what the counseling center specializes in.  On Wednesday, November 22, 2006, we spent over two hours talking one-on-one with Jacqueline Winter, who conducts the Individual & Relationship Counseling Center in Hawaii Kai.  Basically, we talked to her about the center and what Imago Therapy is, what she does, and how she helps couples improve their relationship.  We did somewhat of a mini-session with Jacqueline, where she had us role-play a scenario so that we could understand what she does with her clients.  She explained the concept of “self-reporting,” meaning that you take a guess as to what you think bothers your partner the most about you, and then confirming whether or not that really is what bothers your partner.  We then participated in an “intentional dialogue” which is the basis of Imago Therapy.  The intentional dialogue can not only be used between couples, but it can be used between friends, co-workers, or any type of situation where there is a disagreement.  After participating in the intentional dialogue, we understood more how Jacqueline runs her counseling center and just exactly how and why it works for many individuals.  We both learned a lot from going to the Individual & Relationship Counseling Center and saw ways in which we could improve our own personal relationships.
    In conclusion, conflict is an inevitable part of life - there is no way to avoid it.  During a conflict, get curious but make sure you make it a safe place by not reacting to it; just listen.  The main goal of Imago Therapy is to reach a deeper connection with each other.  We learned that the basis for success in a relationship is communication, and Imago Therapy helps couples who are walking on eggshells open up to each other again.   After having the interview with Jacqueline Winter, we both came to the conclusion that this was a really good resource to Hawaii’s community.  It is also the only counseling center in Hawaii that uses Imago Therapy, which is beginning to be the new way of therapy.  We feel that everyone, not only couples, can benefit from this resource because everything that is taught can be used in all types of relationships.  The Individual & Relationship Counseling Center is a great resource for all to us.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Couple Laura Girardeau, left, and Chris Hundhausen enjoy the sunset from their home in Manoa Valley.
The honeymoon may be over, but
with some guidance and practice,
couples may find bliss through the
principals of Imago relationship therapy
By Nancy Arcayna
Many of us live through the failure of our romantic fantasies. The "happily ever after" just doesn't seem to last. After two lovebirds move in together or marry, their relationship is subject to change due to all manner of stresses they never anticipated.
The first casualty of this change is the illusion of the "soul mate." All of a sudden, one's perfect partner seems to possess unbearable qualities. The special someone who was supposed to make you feel complete and connected doesn't exist. The romantic bliss transforms into frustration and disappointment, and individuals may find themselves living with their worst nightmare.
"Everybody's got issues," said relationship therapist Jacqueline Winter. Most people aren't conscious of the healing and growth they are supposed to experience in a relationship. So, they end up continually wounding each other, she said.
Winter, the only Certified Imago Relationship Therapist on Oahu, works with couples and individuals. According to Winter, Imago Relationship Therapy is designed for couples who are experiencing difficulties and want to resolve their conflicts, are beginning a relationship, are considering divorce but want to work things out, or those who want to enrich their relationship. Singles can learn to understand why past relationships didn't work, how to create fulfilling relationships, how to break destructive patterns, and heal old hurts and frustrations.
Imago Therapy, recently the subject of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," was founded by Dr. Harville Hendrix, the author of "Getting the Love You Want," during the early 1980s. Hendrix believes that individuals who grow up in Western cultures unconsciously bring unfinished business from childhood into romantic relationships for resolution.
Relationship therapist Jaqueline Winter is the only counselor on Oahu who is certified in the Imago method recently discussed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show
"People want magic pixie dust. They want everything to be resolved in one session," said Winter. Unfortunately, 10 to 12 sessions are the norm.
Among those she has counseled are Laura Girardeau and Chris Hundhausen, who have been married for nearly seven years.
"Like most people in our society, I entered our relationship with the myth that good relationships are free of conflict, and that if I loved my partner enough, we would live happily ever after," said Hundhausen. "We were strongly attracted to each other from the start, and we went nearly a year without even so much as an argument."
The couple started practicing the Imago therapy concepts after reading Hendrix's book and made their first visit to Winter's office about a year ago.
The Imago process has changed our lives, said Girardeau. "We're both interested in personal growth, so we've taken advantage of counseling even during the good times.
"In some methods, the counselor acts as an expert and the couple becomes dependent on them. In Imago, the relationship itself is seen as the 'expert,' offering partners an opportunity to heal childhood wounds and grow spiritually."
Jacqueline Winter counsels a couple and teaches them how to communicate with each other using the intentional dialogue process recommended in Imago Relationship Therapy.
THE BASIC PRINCIPLE of Imago Relationship Therapy is that individuals must repair damage from unmet childhood needs. According to Hendrix's theory, this healing must occur within a relationship and that is why we seek out partners possessing traits of our caregivers.
"Imago" is the image of a person who will make a partner feel whole again, and although it's unintended, individuals gravitate toward the very traits that are running from, even though it's not obvious in the beginning of a relationship, said Winter.
"Even though we choose a partner who will drive us crazy sometimes, that conflict is the path to intimacy," said Girardeau. "By learning how to share our hurt feelings with each other in a safe way, we grow closer and have more energy to share with the community."
"It's really helped me get through some confusing times," added Hundhausen.
Winter said, "Basically, it's not so much about solving the problem. It is more so that they can tell the truth, even though they don't agree and not pollute the sacred space in between by name calling, yelling, hitting or avoiding the issues."
Girardeau described her father as a distant man. "He was a professor who worked on the weekends when I wanted to play with him, he rarely came along on family trips to the zoo or to the park.
"Originally, I thought I had chosen my husband because he was so different from my father," she said. Instead, she found a mate with the same tendencies, which led her to feel abandoned.
"She felt abandoned because of my workaholism," explained Hundhausen, who grew up in a family where he was loved conditionally, based on performance.
"I was working on a dissertation and thought the only way I could be loved was to excel academically." At the time, he was unwilling to admit that he used work to cover up his own need to be loved for who he was. "This insight came later," he said.
"We read 'Getting the Love You Want' together and began to see our struggles as connected to our own childhoods, and not about the present day. What attracts me to Hendrix is the higher level theory that we are drawn to our partners for the purpose of resolving the unfinished business of our pasts," he added.
"For many years, I struggled with the idea that giving Laura what she asked for would somehow be admitting that there's something wrong with me. What I've learned is that giving Laura what she asks for is a gift to her, and says nothing about me," said Hundhausen.
"Building trust requires me to do certain things including giving her the love she needs even though it is difficult for me," he added. "In the process, I reclaim a part of me and I heal as well."
THE FOUNDATION of Imago Therapy is the practice of intentional dialog, according to Winter. The dialog includes repeating the content of your partner's message, validating the other partner's response, empathizing and responding. It sounds simple, but it takes a lot of coaching and practice, she explained. If a married couple can work through their problems together, they can achieve both physical and spiritual wholeness, she added. Criticism is not a part of the process.
"We still have our struggles," said Hundhausen. But rather than viewing them as a sign that we aren't meant for each other, I've learned to accept them as a great teacher. My relationship has become my spiritual path."
Girardeau said, "Now, when I share how I feel, my husband hears how it was for me as a girl, and feels empathy for me. He is now more willing to make changes, such as reserving Saturdays for hikes and picnics.
"At first, it was hard for him to stretch this way. But now he has gotten in touch with his lost self, the adventurous boy who wanted to play, but instead had to do homework and clean the garage," she said. "This is the magic of Imago -- as we understand our and heal our partners, we also heal ourselves."
For more information, call Jacqueline Winter
at 735-1053 or visit www.gettingsmartaboutlove.com.
Creating intentional dialog
Imago Therapy calls for the following communication techniques:
>> "Mirror": Accurately reflect back the content of your partner's message. "Let me see if I got that. You were saying ..."
>> "Validate": Tell your partner that what they have conveyed (and that you have mirrored) makes sense -- that they are not crazy or stupid. To validate, does not mean you agree. It recognizes that a partner's subjective experience is as logical as your own.
>> "Empathize": Convey to a partner that you recognize and can imagine what he or she is feeling.
-- Provided by Jacqueline Winter
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