Friday, June 1, 2012

How to be Emotionally Heroic

Both my husband and I have divorced parents. After a fight several years ago, we each called our mothers. My mother said, "Yeah, well, maybe your relationship has run its course." His mother said, "Relationships end. It's sad, but they do." Divorced people, apparently, are not the right people to go to when you need marriage advice--unless your desire is to end up divorced.

My husband and I wanted to create a conscious, happy, lasting marriage and so we did what we do best--we read, discussed, read some more, studied various ideas, talked to people and found what we believe is the way to do marriage better. It's called Imago.

We started Imago relationship counseling about three years ago, right after we got engaged (we both strongly believe in prevention as the best medicine). Imago counseling is nothing like regular couples counseling. Imago is a skill, a tool, a form of good communication and the sessions you attend would be best described as workouts and just like any muscle, if you workout often enough, good communication will become a reflex.

Learning Imago began as a method of doing marriage better but it has helped my husband and I to reap benefits in every area of our lives. Imago has tremendously benefited both of us at work, with friends and with family.

Our good communication skills have made us much better parents than we would have been. Good communication is a tool that goes hand-in-hand with our parenting philosophy: be the hero you wish to see in your children.

I would also like to note that the style of communication taught at our Imago workouts is the same style that parents are encouraged to learn in most parenting and psychology books. A few that really highlight this style of communication are: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, How to Talk so Teens will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk, The Happiest Toddler on the Block and 1,2,3... The Toddler Years: A practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers. Reading any of these books in the future--when you have talking kids--would be helpful. Going to Imago therapy work out sessions and practicing this communication skill with your partner before you have children would be far more helpful.

Books to read now to help you on your quest to becoming emotionally heroic:

Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix: this book is about Imago! I actually didn't like this book when I first read it. I even thought Imago was a little silly and unnecessary for two people as rational as my husband and myself. But then we started our classes and we were blown away.

The Psychology of Romantic Love by Nathaniel Branden: this is the natural book for Objectivists to turn to. It's a good book but not as good as--

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden: one my favorite books of all time. This book clarifies how you can be the hero you want to be. It also recommends all parents learn Imago-style communication.

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