Marriage Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.
Do you know which episode Oprah won her first Emmy for? If you answered, “The one where she interviews marriage therapist Harville Hendrix!” – then you’re not only right but you’re probably one of the few people on Earth who nailed it.
In that interview, Oprah asked Hendrix about the new book he and his partner (and wife) Helen LaKelly had written that introduced a concept called Imago Relationship Therapy. Have you heard about this system? They developed it out of their observations about people in general. Basically, Hendrix and LaKelly note that when we were children we had the experience of full “aliveness” or “connectedness.” That’s what we’re looking for and we want it again. They say that we live in an interconnected, interactive universe — in which everything is connecting.
Hendrix and LaKelly, though, have noticed a problem: people do not feel connected, in part because people have an objection to difference. And objecting to difference has something to do with the fact that we’re not connecting.
At the same time, they had somewhat of a revelation about talking — namely, that talking is the most dangerous thing that most people do, while listening is the scariest thing and the most infrequent. A fundamental problem is that most people cannot talk about their differences or their needs without going into polarization.
That led to the idea of a new relational science. Marriage therapy has been very murky in the past. People have longed to get along but they just don’t know how. Hendrix and LaKelly emphasize that not getting along at moments — conflict — isn’t a bad thing in a relationship. Conflict is growth trying to happen. If you hold the conflict right, you’ll both discover something new and transformative.
The problem with conflict is that people wait too long. That’s probably because people don’t know that there’s something that can help. The good news is that with the development of Imago Relationship Therapy, help is readily available. It’s a process that guides you toward productive conversations. Watch the video — settle in for a real therapy session of 45 minutes — and you may see the potential to change your relationship in a dramatic way.