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The Imago Theory

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Avrumi: “You are really hurting me now. You know that I am nothing like my father. I am a much more loving and involved father to our children, and I think that I am a better husband as well.”

Sarale: “Yes, you are a great father and wonderful husband. It is only when we go to our parents’ houses that this argument seems to happen. Please just think about it.”

Avrumi: “Okay, I will.”

What was actually happening in this marriage? Avrumi was reacting to Sarale based on his childhood. He saw his father always upset because his mother spoke a lot, and when his wife was fun and talkative with his or her family he overreacted by getting upset.

Avrumi’s Imago is based on his childhood. In his Imago – the image formulated in his childhood – he remembers a lot of fighting at home and his father humiliating his mother for being too talkative and too loud. Even though he loves Sarale’s personality when they’re together, when he hears her talking to others, he suddenly hears his mother’s voice and it makes him feel uncomfortable.

The Imago theory is very complicated. For example, it can entail a wife hearing her husband getting angry and becoming overly upset due to her father’s constant anger. But it can reveal itself in positive ways as well. For instance, if a woman had a very warm and loving father and then marries a warm and loving husband, she may continue to have a positive Imago and enjoy an excellent relationship with her husband. In therapy, the Imago is usually a problem when it is a negative one.

In your marriage, your father’s anger is the negative Imago that is buried in your heart. When you hear your husband’s anger you suddenly hear your father’s anger. I hope this awareness will help you become less angry with your husband. But if this issue is deeper than what I’ve picked up, please seek professional help. Hatzlachah!

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