Successful Marriage Installment #4
5 Things You Can do to Make Your Good Marriage, Great!
In the last installment of Successful Marriage – 5 things you can do to Make your Good Marriage, Great! you learned about the power of performing caring behaviors and how that can make your spouse feel cared for and loved.
In this installment of Successful Marriage, we will discuss the 4th thing you can do to Make your Good Marriage, Great! which is: making time to talk.
If you already have a successful marriage, you are probably not giving your spouse the silent treatment. However, in our busy lives how often do we really have the time to talk with each other in a truly meaningful way? While we may have the best intentions, if we don’t make the time, it will never happen. Something will always come up.
One of the most effective tools I have found in working with helping couples manifest their successful marriage is the Imago Dialogue.
While this process is the backbone of my sessions and is a safe way to express the frustrations we have with each other, you don’t have to dialogue only when you have a problem or a difficult situation. The dialogue process is a valuable tool to use anytime you really want to connect with your spouse. Couples enjoying a successful marriage often use it whenever they want to talk in a connected way.
To be able to sit down and completely focus on each other is a rare thing in our fast-paced society, yet it is vital for relational health. Otherwise, the relationship is not being fully nourished.
I once listened to a teleconference with Dr. Harville Hendrix and his wife Dr. Helen La Kelly Hunt, the founders of Imago. They were talking about some of the cutting edge brain research and how the same parts of the brain activated in dialogue are the parts that are stimulated in meditation. Dialogue can serve as a spiritual discipline for interpersonal relationships as it enables you to really focus on your spouse and connect with them in a transcendental way.
You may have already read about the Dialogue in some of my books or e-courses. Here is a very concise summary of how it works. The first thing you want to do is make sure it is a good time to talk. The best way to do this is to arrange a time when you can both sit down and focus on each other.
Next, you want to choose who will be doing the talking. In a dialogue there is a sender- the one talking, and a receiver- the one listening. The dialogue process allows the sender to feel truly heard. This is accomplished by having the receiver mirror what the sender says. The receiver simply repeats or paraphrases what their spouse says and then asks if they got it (“Did I get you?”), and if there is more (“Is there more?”) they want to share. This continues until the sender says everything they want to express.
After you have fully mirrored your spouse and there is no more he/she wants to share about the topic, you have reached the validation component of the Dialogue. This is when you let your spouse know that “what you said makes sense.” This does not necessarily mean that you agree, rather it is acknowledging that you understood him/her and accept that what he/she said is valid from their point of view.
Finally, it is time for empathy. This is where you truly get in your partner’s shoes.” I imagine you might be feeling … Is that right?” Try to pick two emotions that you think he/she is feeling and check in.
While there are some more advanced components to the dialogue as well as some deepening work that can be done with the help of a skilled facilitator, you now have the tools to begin a more meaningful conversation with your spouse where you can truly connect.
Let’s review what we discussed in this installment of Successful Marriage – 5 things you can do to Make your Good Marriage, Great!
– The importance of making time to talk
– How the Imago Dialogue helps you connect with your spouse in a deep and transcendental way
– The three components of Dialogue- Mirroring, Validation, and Empathy
Looking forward to sending you the next installment of this course. As always, contact me if you have any questions about the material in our Successful Marriage ecourse at 443-570-7598.