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February 22,2021

Why You Need to Close the Exits in Your Marriage

“Close the exits.” When you hear that phrase in reference to your marriage, what does it make you think about? Do you imagine someone getting a divorce? Having an affair? While those are certainly good examples of ways that people can “exit” a relationship, they’re just scratching the surface. Essentially, a marriage “exit” is anything that allows you to back away from dealing with an issue in your relationship. Maybe it’s that best friend you tell everything to rather than talking things out with your partner. Or how your office hours suddenly get a lot longer when things aren’t going well at home. Or substances you use to “check out” and smooth over rough patches.  Exits can even be thoughts you have about other potential partners or what your life would be like if you left your relationship. If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably thinking that some of those things seem a lot worse than others. And a number of them don’t really seem all that bad at all. While some exits can certainly be a lot worse, the truth is all exits are potentially bad and should be closed if you want your relationship to survive and thrive. Why? The Problem with Having Relationship “Exits” at Your Disposal First, let’s be clear about something. An “exit” is not the same thing as having other interests. Individuals in a relationship can and should have outside interests.  Everyone can and should have outside friendships and relationships. In other words, both you and your partner deserve a life that doesn’t revolve solely around each other. “Exits,” on the other hand, are a bit different. In the examples above, you can see they are specific ways that people “escape” from relationship trouble rather than addressing it. Having a movie night with a friend is not an exit. Calling a friend up to go to the movies to avoid a potential relationship argument — that’s an exit. Why is one scenario fine while the other is bad? Because having an “exit” essentially allows someone to not fully invest in the relationship. To run away when things get tough. Think about that for a moment. Imagine being in a relationship with someone who abandons their partner the moment things get hard? How could the partner depend on that person? How could they trust them? The simple answer is that they couldn’t. Not really. Not fully. Because it always seems like the other person has one foot out the door. Sure, they may talk a good game about being there for their partner. They might even say they want to work to make things better. But the proof is in their actions. The simple truth is that nothing will ever get better in a relationship as long as one person or the other has an exit or two at their disposal. How Do You Close the Exits in Your Relationship? The first step is to want to. Exits, quite honestly, can be quite...

January 25,2021

How to Recognize Your Relationship’s Power Struggle

It’s never fun to feel disappointed, frustrated, or angry with your partner. Many couples break up because one or both people can’t handle the constant push-pull of what they want from their partner and what they are actually getting. In Imago therapy, this is called the power struggle. This is a necessary and important process to go through -- both to grow closer to your partner and to gain a better understanding of yourself. What is a power struggle? (more…)

December 10,2020

What Is the Imago — and Why Does It Matter for Your Relationship?

Imago is Latin for “image,” and in Imago relationship therapy, the Imago is the unconscious image you carry with you of your perfect partner. That’s right -- at least subconsciously, you already think you know who Mr. (or Ms.) Right is. It’s why we’re drawn towards certain types of people in our love life. Which sounds like a good thing, right? Our brains are unconsciously pushing us towards the right person. The person who will be perfect for us and give us that “happily ever after” we’ve all been trained to want, right? Not exactly. (more…)

October 1,2020

Improve Communication with the Couples Dialogue

Do you feel like your partner never really listens to you? Do they complain that you don’t talk to them about things? You need to improve communication. Sounds familiar, right? We’ve been told over and over again that good, effective communication is one of the secrets of a strong, long-lasting relationship. But unfortunately, most of us just aren’t very good at it. Because it’s counter-intuitive! Well, just like anything else, communicating effectively is a skill. That means you can learn it. You just need the right tools. (more…)

September 18,2020

Couples Quiz: Our Visions for Our Relationship

You feel like your partner isn’t being romantic enough. They feel like you criticize them too much.  When there is dissatisfaction in a relationship, it is often because the reality isn’t matching up to your relationship vision -- what you believe that relationship should be. And here's the kicker -- many people don’t even realize they have a vision! In Imago, we have couples work to figure out what that vision is -- separately and then together. How does that work? With a couples quiz. (more…)

July 2,2020

The Mystery of Attraction

In some cases, people talk about their knees getting weak. Or being “drawn toward” someone. The attraction they feel is like some kind of seismic shift inside their very being — immediate and hard-hitting.  (more…)

June 9,2020

How to Make a SMART Request of Your Partner

You know that relationships thrive (or wither) based on communication. You need to be able to ask your partner for what you want. And vice versa. Unfortunately, most of us still struggle with this. Either we hem and haw to avoid what feels like an uncomfortable conversation. Or we “ask” for change by complaining and blaming. And when we do manage to make a straightforward request, we often make it hard for our partners to understand exactly how to fulfill the request. Imago has a solution for that: the SMART request. (more…)

May 18,2020

Every Relationship Frustration Is a Goldmine for Growth

Been thinking more about couples therapy lately? When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s a given that you’ll feel frustrated with your partner at one time or another. Often, these frustrations can seem both silly and vitally important at the same time. But why? (more…)

April 15,2020

The Impact of Our Childhood on Our Adult Relationships

Imago philosophy says it is our earliest interactions with caretakers that informs our handlings of our relationships in adulthood. The image we formed from our experience with our parents and/or other caretakers is called the Imago. (more…)

Are you tired of fighting? Feeling helpless and hopeless?

It really can be easier. You can understand and apply what it takes to be connected again -- or for the first time. CONTACT DANA

My first experience with Dana many years ago was so positive that I returned for more help this past year. I knew that she would be able to get to the heart of the problem quickly and to help me get on track toward a resolution.

Gloria P.

Before you give up on your relationship, let her try to help!


We are now able to communicate...in a constructive and loving way...

Shirley S.

Her explanation and application of the Imago technique was very practical and easy to grasp. She helped us immensely with some relationship issues that were quite deeply entrenched and painful.

Meg R.

Over the years I have come to find out parts of myself I didn't even know existed. The best thing I could say about Dana is I felt safe and compelled to open up more than I ever have before. And in doing so, I have started to love and accept myself just the way I am

Louella J.
Copyright @2020 Dana Cole, LMFT