Remember the last time a conversation reached an impasse in your relationship? Instead of seeing your partner as a teammate, you suddenly saw them as an obstacle to your happiness. It’s an unpleasant but universal occurrence as we grow closer in romantic relationships.
When we first start dating, we are hyper-focused on our partner. This can give the impression of almost having ESP at first. But eventually this fades.
As we grow more comfortable with each other, we actually become more neglectful of each other’s needs — unintentionally, of course. This can lead to feeling frustrated. Because your needs aren’t being met. If you want to change this, you have to learn how to turn frustrations into requests.
Imago teaches that these frustrations don’t have to become an impasse. Follow the steps below and watch conflict turn into a constructive blueprint for growth.
Carve out some time and space from your partner to reflect on what’s bothering you.
Perhaps you and your partner will want to do this at the same time.
Behind every wall of frustration, an inner child (or adolescent) waits for a need that wasn’t met when growing up. They might wait in tears, sulking, angry, or even in pained silence.
Accept the emotions that arise, and look for that young person’s desire underneath the emotion.
Next, you’ll want to list concrete actions that could help you to meet your needs. After all, we want to help our partner with clear instructions! None of us can read minds. This is the request part.
You can use this process any time you find yourself crashing against frustration bricks in your relationship. Determine what you’re really frustrated about. Figure out steps your partner can take to alleviate those feelings. Then turn frustrations into requests that you share with your partner.
You can take turns sharing and listening to your lists afterwards, an act that’s bonding in its own right.
With the right tools, you can turn that wall into a tunnel with a light at the end. Hopefully reading this today feels more empowering already.
Want to fill the Imago toolbox in your relationship? Reach out to a counselor who’s trained in the tools.