Whether you're gay, lesbian or straight, marriage can be simple! Relationship science can make breakups and divorce a thing of the past.
This is the premise of Making Marriage Simple: Ten Truths for Changing the Relationship You Have into the One You Want, a new book written by Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph. D.
Hendrix and Hunt believe the marriage of two people conventionally deemed incompatible is actually grounds for a great marriage.
Did you say incompatibility is grounds for a great marriage? Yes. The prevailing attitude is that if your marriage isn't working, you're with the wrong partner. Hunt and Hendrix explain how conflict in a marriage is actually growth trying to happen. Leading to a "Relationship Revolution," Hendrix and Hunt help couples of all orientations implement the ten truths into real relationship life.
Hendrix and Hunt point out the reality of the power stuggle, negativity and how couples hurtfully verbalize to each other. There are exercises after each truth designed to help couples see the light each truth shines. From the history of the dominator/submissive model of marriage, to a chronology of their own relationship journey, Hendrix and Hunt offer winning advice to take advantage of incompatibility.
Harville Hendrix is well known for his book Getting the Love You Want, where he introduced Imago relationship therapy. Imago maintains that conflict between two partners is normal and is supposed to happen. We pick partners who resemble familiar love and who carry the positive and negative traits of our primary caretakers. The conflicts which eventually appear in the relationship are the unresolved issues from childhood, in disguise. Each partner's healing and individual growth depends on the couple staying together and resolving these differences. In other words, we return to the scene of the crime in childhood, only this time we solve the crime in adulthood.
Imago Relationship Theory Offers Reinforcement for Gay and Lesbian Couples
In a society that sees most relationships as disposable, lesbian and gay relationships are seen and treated as even more disposable. Thus, when conflict arises and the relationship becomes more difficult, it seems easier for lesbian and gay couples to give up on the relationship rather than face the struggle together.
Many lesbian and gay couples do not have children, the legal or religious sanction of marriage, family and friend support, or public recognition to reinforce a reason to stay together. Imago relationship therapy offers these couples a reason to stay.
The premise is that conflict between two partners is normal and is supposed to happen. We pick partners who resemble familiar love and carry the positive and negative traits of our primary caretakers. Conflicts which eventually appear in relationships are the unresolved issues from childhood, in disguise. Each partner's healing and individual growth depends on the couple staying together and resolving these differences. In other words, we return to the scene of the crime in childhood, only this time we solve the crime in adulthood.
Gays and lesbians do not have the approval of society allowing them to learn about dating and romantic love with members of the same gender during adolescence or early adulthood. In fact, most gays and lesbians spend most of their early lives running from each other and ourselves for fear of discovery and being scorned by society. A great deal of time is spent in early childhood and young adulthood conforming to heterosexuality. It is traumatic to question one's true identity and when discovered, feel it necessary to keep it secret from one's inner self, the outside world and one's own family.
Conflict is Growth Trying to Happen
This is the positive spin of Imago Relationship Therapy. Differences allow for personal and relational growth between your and your partner.
Differences between partners on various issues can be threatening to all couples, gay and straight alike, but particularly to the gay or lesbian couple. Our culture treats gays and lesbians badly for being "different" than the norm. This attitude imprints upon us that differences are not okay which makes for more sensitivity and suspiciousness at having to conform for anyone again. So, when these differences and conflicts arise for the gay and lesbian couple, it can feel like confirmation that society's attitude is correct and that our relationships are doomed to failure.
Unfortunately, many people may leave their relationships prematurely based on this misinformation.
Here again, Imago normalizes the tension and difficulty that all couples go through and terms it the "power struggle" -- a necessary stage for growth of the individual and the relationship. This creates yet another anchor for lesbians and gays to stay in the relationship.
The only time the concept of the "good of the power struggle" does not apply is when domestic violence or active addictions are involved. That is not an effective source of conflict that can be resolved with couple's therapy, but demands more serious therapeutic intervention.
All in all, Imago relationship therapy provides the hope and reinforcement gay and lesbian couples need and deserve, just like their heterosexual counterparts.