The Second Stage
Oh it can get downright painful and destructive. Combat between lovers. We Imagoans call it The Power Struggle. It typically shows up between 6 months and 2 years after you get together. It is reactive fighting. Lizard Brain stuff. That part of our brain, in case you didn’t link over to Wikipedia, is located at the base of the brain stem, and is only concerned with “fight or flight” needs. It’s the bat phone for adrenaline. It senses real or *perceived* danger, and like some kind emotional flypaper for our childhood pain, snags anything that comes along that will suffice for an outburst. A temper tantrum. Nice. That’s attractive, right?
You know, I’m standing right here, so yelling is unnecessary and ineffective. I really can’t hear what your saying; I can only hear you yelling. If you know phrases like that, then you’re familiar with the lizard brain.
Now don’t get me wrong; there are times when that part of your brain has saved your life. More than once, I’d bet. It is responsible for all kinds of heroic and lifesaving acts. Or should I should I say REACTS? That’s it’s job. Kind of like a little almond sized 911 center in your brain. So it serves an important function. But negotiating emotional needs in a realationship is no place for temper-flaring-adrenaline rushes.
Nor should you ignore your needs in order to prevent a fight. That will likely just serve as bicep curls for resentment. And loss of self over time. Don’t try it; it won’t work.
Oddly, this power struggle is (now stay with me) growth TRYING to happen. Yep, you heard it here. Where two people see everything exactly the same way all the time, one of them is unnecessary! Conflict is inevitable in relationship. But it is not a bad thing, believe it or not, if both people are willing to engage a different part of their brain to communicate. Look, you don’t want to be married to a two-year-old throwing a tantrum, right? Neither does your partner.
That is why we use the Imago Dialogue. For one thing, yelling is contraindicated because it hurts badly and doesn’t help at all. But beyond that, the dialogue allows for the effective transfer of accurate information from one partner to the other. We call this communication, and scientists have discovered it is a handy tool for actually being heard. It also engages the cerebral cortex, which is where reason happens, among other higher human functions.
If you’re tired of the fighting, check out the Getting the Love You Want workshop that will teach you the tools you need to have a conscious relationship!
Five warning signs of a conscious relationship:
- you feel safely and intimately connected to your partner.
- you get to be yourself.
- you communicate bi-directionally.
- you have fun, joy, meaningful experiences together.
- you are grateful to and for each other.