Dr. Herb Tannenbaum is a PhD graduate of New York University, as well as the Clinical Training Program, the Clinical Instructor Program, and the Workshop Presenter Program of the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy. A licensed psychologist since 1975, Dr. Herb Tannenbaum leads the Imago “Getting the Love You Want” workshop for couples.
Q: According to Imago relationship therapy, people often need marriage as a catalyst for healing and growth. Does that mean they shouldn’t get divorced?
A: Many people believe that if they are fighting a lot with their spouse, they are in the wrong relationship. There are certainly situations where divorce may be the best choice, but from the Imago perspective, a marriage is less likely to reach the point of dissolution if wounds incurred in childhood from not getting needs met by primary caretakers are healed or are being worked on.
Furthermore, any unresolved relationship issues may still need to be resolved in one’s next relationship, so the difficulties in the current relationship are seen as being important to confront in the present. Divorce could lead to continuing a cycle of relationship issues attached to new faces.
When people first meet and fall in love, they tend to idealize each other and to try things they don’t normally do for the sake of bonding. After marriage, on the other hand, the individuals in a couple begin acting more like who they actually are. The Imago school of thought holds that rather than divorce, if couples can look beyond their own need for gratification and focus on their partner’s growth and the well-being of the relationship as a whole, a shift to a psycho-spiritual transformation occurs and enhances the relationship.