“Helen and I like to think of two people in a conscious love relationship as companion stars. Each person is a unique individual ablaze with potential. One is just as important as the other, and each has a unique and equally valid view of the universe. Yet, together, they form a greater whole, kept connected by the pull of mutual love and respect. They mirror the interconnected universe.” ―
Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. could have been written by me. IT WASN’T, but it could have been. I have actually lived Part I and Part II, both with help of Part III. No, I wasn’t purposely following the book for the last forty years…
Let me explain:
The first part of the book is about “Unconscious Partnership” which could very easily define my first marriage. Who was thinking? Certainly not me! I was attracted, this much was sure, as he seemed to be to me. Six weeks after meeting, we married… blissfully unaware of the childhood wounds, past relationships issues and baggage each brought to the relationship. Soon enough, we found out. It wasn’t pretty.
Hendrix explains that this kind of relationship occurs when we aren’t consciously looking for love – and let’s face it – who is? It’s all about hormones!
The second part of the book is about (no surprise, here) “Conscious Partnership” which is where safe, secure, whole relationships live. I am in such a marriage now.
The third part of the book brings ten exercises for couples who are not in conscience partnerships — but want to be!
I’ll tell you this… the book is amazing. It’s so jammed packed with information that I could never begin to share it all here. You’ll find out more about your relationship – and yourself – than you ever thought possible. Well, maybe you do think it’s possible. In that case, you won’t be disappointed.
It first came out in 1988 but I have the later “20th Anniversary Edition” which… yeah… I don’t know the difference. No matter what it is, this book is one of the most solid self-help books for marriage ever… as in EVER …written. Though, it’s not just for marriage… it’s for any romantic relationship.
The exercises in Part III are thorough and excellent. My favorite is actually the first one! It’s “Your Relationship Vision” and takes approximately 60 minutes to complete. Have you ever thought about your vision as a couple? Isn’t it worth an hour to find out?
Because… you know how it is… after that initial attraction… the jobs, the children, health, fatigue, etc. (Etc. etc!) get in the way and soon enough, you’re so overwhelmed with just LIVING that you don’t even consider what the vision was… nor do you care. This sets couples up for failure.
Yet, many couples (around 50%) stay together and we can assume that not all of them did formal exercises – BUT – my guess is that their vision was the same, whether they talked about it, or not.
How much better would some not-great marriages be if they realized that they share a baseline vision to stay together through the hard times, never let go, stand side-by-side through thick and thin? Yeah, I know most of the vows say that. But, uh. Well. Seeing as I’ve been divorced, even though I had every intention of staying married forever… so, um. Yeah.
I am in my second marriage and like so many who have divorced, determined that “next time” would be different. To that end, we were! Purely by accident, we were doing many of the things this book says without realizing it. And folks, it has served us well! My husband and I have talked about things that my first husband and I never discussed.
“Learning and teaching the “Imago Dialogue” allows couples to move from blame and reactivity, to understanding and empathy, so they can create a deeper and loving connection with each other.”
Developing the dialogue is Exercise 8. All the exercises are excellent and illuminating.
Boy, I’ve been talking about a bunch of books that are really good lately. I love good books, don’t you?