Having been single for the first 48 years of my life, healthy relationships not only eluded me, but I seemed to repel them. It was not until someone handed me Harville Hendrix’s book, Keeping the Love You Find, did I finally understand my role in the dysfunctional relationships, and I discovered what to do about it.
When I read his book and did the personal assessment worksheets that are included in the book, it was like a huge light bulb went off and illuminated those dark areas that I previously had little understanding about. I was immediately hooked into Hendrix’s work. After doing some investigating on who this man was, I quickly learned that I was not the only one who was hooked on his work. I discovered that Harville Hendrix was one of Oprah Winfrey’s top relationship experts and teachers. As a matter of fact, he was on the show 17 times and Oprah lists Harville Hendrix as one of her top 20 moments on the show. It did not surprise me that Oprah Winfrey would introduce Hendrix to the world and the powerful work he does in helping people to deeply transform their lives. That is what happened for me.
Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., is a Clinical Pastoral Counselor. He and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. cocreated Imago Relationship Therapy and developed the concept of “conscious partnership.” Their partnership and collaboration has resulted in nine books on intimate relationships and parenting.
Harville holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and Theology from the University of Chicago and has received an honorary doctorate and two distinguished service awards. He is the NY Times Bestselling author of GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT: A Guide for Couples and KEEPING THE LOVE YOU FIND: A Personal Guide.
Although his work is mainly working with couples, my personal experience in utilizing his work in my own life as a single woman was transforming. He coined the term “imago.” Imago is the Latin word for ‘image.’ Imago Relationship Therapy is the unique image of familiar love that each of us develops beginning at birth. It is how someone loves us or does not love us from birth that will be with us throughout our lives. In other words, we get involved with people who have the negative and positive traits of our major caretakers. All I needed to do with this information is take a look at my past relationships and clearly see how all the negative traits of the men I dated were the same as my father’s. A light bulb went off in my head, but what I could not figure out was why.
Hendrix clearly explains that we unconsciously are drawn to the same kind of person that wounded us in order to heal the original pain. It is that chemical reaction that goes off in our bodies and is pulled towards the very person that will hurt us. I remember trying to make these kinds of relationships work. I could be in a room filled with over 100 healthy men and yet I was unconsciously drawn to the man who was in some way shape or form unavailable or an alcoholic.
Hendrix’s ideal relationship is one that has both partners stop wounding one another in ways that will trigger their childhood pain. This is accomplished through a process he developed called Imago Dialogue. Normally the behavior that is triggering one of the partners is not a healthy one, but it takes a willingness to stop the behavior. I personally never found a partner who was willing to do this and he also addresses this as well. The miracle for me was when I became consciously aware of choosing men that were unhealthy for me, I started to recognize the “red flags” of the unhealthy behavior and would no longer stay in that relationship.
I fell in love with Hendrix’s work and wanted him to come and speak for us at our annual Celebrate Your Life conference in Arizona. I think there are so many people that struggle with their relationships and he is so amazing at being able to guide people through these challenges.