By Sonali Sadequee, Certified Imago Facilitator
The practice of intentional love brings gifts that are deep and healing to lovers. Intentional love gives birth to mature relationships that are emotionally grounded and accountable and soulfully enriching. According to the teachings of Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph.D., the authors of New York Times bestsellers of Getting the Love You Want, romantic relationships can move through three basic phases. The first phase is the Romantic phase; the second is the Power Struggle phase, and the third is Real Love.
The first phase, the Romantic phase, is usually classified and driven by a cornucopia of biochemicals like dopamine,oxytocin, serotonin, and others. This is what feels so incredible and magical when we first begin to feel drawn to, connect emotionally with, and build a romantic bond with that special someone. This is the stage where lovers feel euphoric and “in love.”
Over time, misunderstandings, miscommunications, discord, fears, and disconnection can occur which can slip the lovers into the second phase, the Power Struggle phase. Unfortunately, most people who are unaware of these natural phases and dynamics of romantic relationships often mistake the discord and fears as wrong and problematic, instead of seeing it as an opportunity for growth, call for better relational skills, and deeper connection. As a result, the lovers get caught up in the “struggle.” This stage can feel more challenging if they are not equipped with “intentional love” and relational skills such as the Imago Dialogue or Safe Conversations methods. In fact, if they are not deeply self-aware, what attracted the lovers into each other’s lives in the beginning will become exactly what they criticize each other about eventually in this second phase. After the exhilaration of the Romantic phase dwindles and the lovers slip into the treacherous territory of the Power Struggle phase, the lovers can heal and restore the connection in the relationship by becoming dialogical through the Imago Dialogue and Safe Conversations. Continuously and skillfully engaging in these practices can usher the partners into the third phase, the Real Love phase. If lovers are to continue their relationship successfully, they will find that it takes intentionality to love with integrity. They will find that it also takes deep awareness and accountability of their own emotional tendencies and past programming.
In order for the relationship to mature, the lovers must discover how to intentionally love the other person the way their lover wants to be loved so they may actually feel loved. Until the love they give feels loving to their partner, their partner will not feel loved. Consequently, the daily offering of the words “I love you” may feel sweet but will lack substance to the receiver. Intentional love is dedicated to being an empathic lover. Intentional lovers are emotionally generous lovers. Intentional lovers know how to ensure the effective expression and reception of their love.
Love requires that people learn to both discern and communicate their various emotions with each other. This means they share and hold space for their various fears, insecurities, pleasures, dreams, and a host of other vulnerable feelings. The purpose of this kind of communication is to grow and deepen the connection. This requires fierce vulnerability. Intentional loving is choosing to be deeply open which naturally leads to allowing love and intimacy. Intentional love paves the way for the natural progression to Real Love.
The lovers who choose to journey through the courageous trajectory of loving each other intentionally will be rewarded with growing and learning together. Even if it feels challenging, they will know that opening up to such a growth process is ultimately deepening their bond and connection to each other as lovers. As a result, they will enjoy their own expansion and learning from each other with authenticity, humility, compassion, accountability, and a sense of adventure. They will communicate with curiosity before making judgments, projections, assumptions, or conclusions. They will celebrate their commitment to this intimate process daily and wholeheartedly.
Intentional lovers will turn criticism into curiosity and insecurities into requests before making judgements and conclusions about each other. They will invite their partner to support them with their inner struggles. Intentional lovers will know that messy and unpleasant emotions can be a powerful healing force for relationships if held and facilitated. They will support each other with turning their wounds into wisdom for a deepened connection.These are a few of the gifts of practicing love intentionally with each other.
Intentional lovers know that holding space for each other with love and care is how they can create a lasting soulful relationship. When we make the intention to love people with all our heart, soul, mind, and body, it means we care enough to concern ourselves with the way we impact them and their heart. We intend to learn, grow, and serve the relationship and our partners for as long as we agree to be in the relationship.
Intentional love requires that we choose to communicate wisely. We have to say what we mean and be clear about our emotions, intentions, and motivations. In intentionally loving relationships, we are deliberate every step of the way with our partners and take accountability for being co-pilots and stewards of this sacred and intimate connection we call… love. Ultimately, intentional love allows you to get the love you and your partner want in your relationship.
Intentional love is mature love. It is quality love. It is soulful love.
Intentional love is... sexy love.
To learn how to cultivate intentional love in your life, contact Sonali Sadequee, Certified Imago Facilitator.