Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples

Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples

by Harville Hendrix

In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Harville Hendrix shares what he has discovered about the psychology of love over more than thirty years of working as a therapist and helps you transform your relationship into a lasting source of love and companionship. With its step-by-step program, Getting The Love You Want will help you create a loving, supportive and revitalized partnership.

Summary Notes

The Unconscious Partnership

“Above all else, we seek the sensation of feeling fully alive that is triggered when we experience connecting.”

All relationships are different, and problems can arise. People feel attraction first, then fall in love, and later in some toxic relationships, the power struggle begins. In some relationships, the attraction seems to be based on women’s ability to carry children and men’s ability to support a family financially. 

Many singles affirm, “There’s no one out there for me,” which usually means “there’s no one who satisfies every good and a bad trait I look for in a partner.” We, as humans, are similarly programmed. We all are hardwired to two parts of our brain - the old brain and the new brain. Our old brain is the cautious one that prevents us from repeating the same bad experiences over and over again. The new brain is the rational one that encourages us to see the glass half full. So, the old and new brains are often antitheses, and guess which one wins? The old brain – constantly says that if something ever was, there still is. 

All of us have been wounded in childhood. This doesn’t mean our parents have not done a good job, but they, like any other humans, struggle with their own wounds too. So we look for healing in a partnership. 

Many people do not want to admit that they pick partners with the same positive and negative traits they have encountered in their relationship with their parents or caregivers. This is why certain bad traits may reinjure partnerships. We also tend to pick partners who complement some areas of ourselves. For example, if you are an extrovert, you may be attracted to introverts.

When we fall in love, we feel as though we are back to our original selves, and everything changes. Some people adjust their routines, giving up bad habits, while others have a spiritual awakening. The old brain feels we have been given a chance to be healed and nurtured, but this feeling can only be sustained through illusion, deception, and denial.

This fairytale, however, ends with a power struggle. If we expect the other is supposed to heal us and give us everything to become whole and complete, we’ll be disappointed when our unconscious expectations are not met. Even the things we once thought were the strengths that appealed to us can be repressed as they hide taboos attached to them.

Actions to take

The Conscious Partnership

“We don’t want to accept responsibility for getting our needs met; we want to “fall in love” with the ideal mate and live happily ever after. The psychological term for this childlike view is externalization, and it is the cause of much of the world’s unhappiness.”

The old brain is often the cause of trouble in all marriages. It needs to resonate with the new brain to make partnerships work. For example, when a partner becomes critical, the other needs to have their new brain activated to conduct a productive conversation and not become defensive and hostile. 

Apart from accepting our childhood wounds, we must also paint a realistic picture of our partner. They are not your savior but a companion in life. Understanding that communication and prioritizing your needs and your partner’s needs as equals is key to a successful partnership. You have to give in order to take and vice versa.

When people fall in love, they tend to put themselves in the backseat and ignore their needs. Remember that you can be a good partner as long as you learn how to make yourself happy. You also need to accept your flaws and find ways to improve. 

Understanding that marriage is a work in progress is the ultimate way to overcome difficulties in your relationship. Conscious partners understand that they have to be the right person for their partner and not get married to the right person!

Actions to take

The Exercises

“Dwelling on matters that are not directly relevant to your relationship may help you as an individual, but there is some evidence that it might not be the best way to strengthen your marriage.”

Seeking help when you struggle in your partnership might be a good solution for some. But, you can also create some boundaries and set some rules to continue the work you want to do to make things right.

Give your partnership some time. Making a commitment to work and not simply calling its quits is very important. Understanding you have to go through certain processes is important. There are two major impediments in a marriage: fear of getting hurt and anger for not getting your needs met. 

Listening to your partner is also important. When we are frustrated, we tend to ignore others' opinions; yet proactively listening and communicating can give you insight into your flaws. No one is perfect, and you have to accept your partner’s viewpoint. You have to decide together to make changes and adjust certain habits that may harm your relationship. 

Relationships are a constant learning process. You have to rediscover your partner when things start to get rough. This is only possible if two people are fully committed to making things work. We also need to show that our partner’s needs are heard and respected. 

Another helpful thing people can do is seek professional help. People are hesitant when it comes to finding a therapist. Some may have encountered bad experiences when they went to therapy, or some aren’t comfortable speaking to a stranger about their problems or other personal matters. 

However, a therapist can give the best advice to make your certain situation clearer. They can provide you and your partner with specific tools, steps, or exercises to help you better manage your disputes or difficult discussions. They can also help you with the inner work you have to do by offering fresh perspectives you might not have considered before. 

The bottom line is that once you and your partner have agreed to make things work, you must come up with a plan or guide to know where to start. The first step is to proactively listen to each other and remember that the love you once thought could never be shaken remains. You simply need to relearn how to nurture it by making you and your partner feel safe, loved, and respected once more.

Actions to take

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