#94 – Helen Hunt and Harville Hendrix – The Science Behind Love and Relationships

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Episode Summary

Helen Hunt and Harville Hendrix are relationship experts who have been married for 30 years, but their relationship wasn’t always smooth sailing and it took and still takes work and understanding to make it a success.  One day while in the middle of an argument, Helen said something to Harville that led them to a breakthrough in their relationship and eventually to create three steps that they say are integral to a healthy and great relationship.

With this process, Helen and Harville have created a sort of “guidebook” for couples that teaches them that by communicating better, keeping negativity out, creating a safe environment, and adding positive energy, relationships and marriages can thrive no matter what condition they might be in.

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You can also click on the time stamps below to jump to those specific points in the conversation.

What We Covered

  • [02:19] – Krisstina shares her story and opens up about her recent divorce
  • [07:25] – How people can be so successful in other areas of their lives but struggle with relationships
  • [10:36] – Relationships have a science to it
  • [11:49] – The 70 year study at Harvard and what it found
  • [20:15] – What Helen said to Harville in the middle of one of their arguments
  • [22:20] – Step 1 of their three step dialogue process – one person talks, the other listens
  • [23:11] – Their therapeutic intervention, The Imago Couples Therapy
  • [24:17] – Step 2 – Zero Negativity
  • [26:38] – The definition of negativity
  • [28:02] – Their definition of the word relationship
  • [30:03] – What makes a relationship toxic and unsafe
  • [31:11] – Boundary Violations and Making an Appointment
  • [36:15] – Helen and Harville role play and apply their dialogue process
  • [44:08] – How miscommunication creates problems
  • [48:26] – Step 3 – The Affirmation Process
  • [50:42] – Having fun together
  • [54:39] – If couples who are thinking of splitting can still save their relationship using their tools


[Tweet “The relationship as a science and relationship as a behavior is just becoming intentionally worked with in the mental health field itself.”]
[Tweet “A good marriage has to have structure.”]
[Tweet “We take pains to define a relationship as two people and the space between them.”]
[Tweet “The joy of relationships is connecting and for connecting to happen it has to be safe. When there’s anxiety in the relationship connection is ruptured.”]
[Tweet “The biggest objection couples have to each other is that they’re different.”]
[Tweet “One of the top features of a thriving relationship is spontaneous play.”]

Links Mentioned

Helen and Harville’s website

Relationships First website

Making Marriage Simple

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