Last post we were left with a question but first a little background. Genesis tells us that the goal of marriage is for a man to leave his mother and father and attach himself to his wife. I proposed that Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT), of which I am a strong proponent, finds its primary theoretical roots in this biblical source. Imago assumes that our subconscious is on a mission to find an intimate partner that will allow us to recreate our childhood experience and heal its wounds. We leave our parents home only to cleave to our spouse who will offer us a chance to repair our painful childhood experiences.
The question we were left with was: How does this work? If I am correct in connecting Imago with the first mention of marriage in the Torah than the result should be (as the verse continues) that husband and wife become “one flesh”. With the understanding of “one flesh” as creating a relationship where they feel deeply and essentially connected to one another, how might marrying someone that raises the painful issues of childhood lead to this connection? It seems to be more of a recipe for divorce!
This question is actually directly addressed by the Imago theory itself. The gist of it is: Yes, if you enter marriage thinking that you have found love and will live happily ever after, then the subconscious is playing a dirty trick on you. It is planting minefields that are just waiting to explode into power struggles and marital strife. After all, each partner is basically using the other to meet a very deep need that:
A. Their spouse is unaware of.
B. Their spouse (without conscious effort) is unable to meet.
But if you enter marriage with an awareness that marriage is work. That together you are creating an environment of safety and devotion to one another, with empathy for who your spouse is and all she has experienced (as a child and beyond) then you are on the way to truly connecting to and even healing one another.
Try and develop an awareness that your spouse was not born under the chupah with you, but rather that she still wants to heal and grow. Further, she chose you and is looking to you to help her with that because you are the one that can. By creating safety, seeking connection and looking to grow and heal, a couple can truly become one flesh as they were intended to be.
In the next post I hope to discuss the connection between the idea of a Bashert (“Soul Mate”) and the subconscious search for repair.