Anniversaries! Valentines Day! Family holidays! These are such wonderful times of love, togetherness, infatuation, and fulfillment!

Except when they aren’t. Except when you and your partner are struggling, quarreling, giving the silent treatment, and getting frustrated. And you’re wondering, What on earth did I get myself into? Did I choose the right partner? Will this relationship work?

Even the best of relationships go through challenges

I can guarantee that every couple that you admire has faced their share of struggles. But here’s the thing: The great couples work through them.

And here’s the other thing: Doing the work blesses both of you; the trial by fire forges your relationship into something stronger and more enduring.

Getting the Love You Want

One of the few truly life-changing self help and relationship books I’ve read is called Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. Hendrix offers solid academic background, years of clinical practice, and plenty of his own failures and successes in relationships. The premise of the book (and his school of therapy called IMAGO) is that we select partners, usually unconsciously, who force us to grow in the way we need most.

Sounds lovely, but it’s usually pretty painful.

Mike and I had our struggles

In our relationship, I tend to be the co-dependent, people pleaser. Mike, on the other hand, tends to be detached and aloof. He chose me, per IMAGO, in order to grow and become more present and sacrificing. I chose him to learn to detach, look at things more objectivly, and not waste so much energy trying to please everyone else.

That’s an overarching example of our conflict, but there were all sorts of specific sticking points that brought us a lot of pain and frustration in the early phase of our relationship. But, with the help of Hendrix’s book, and later an IMAGO relationship therapist, we worked through them. And, while we are still very much a work-in-progress, we are in a good place.

Want more? Check out the series we did!

A couple years ago, Mike and I created an eight-part video and blog series that covers the key points of Getting the Love You Want – as well as specific examples of the struggles and victories from our relationship. If you’re interested, here are links to all eight parts.

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, Internal vs External QuestPart 1: External vs. Internal Quest

Many people view relationships as an external quest… The main focus is on the other person. “If I can just find Mrs. RIght.” “If only he could see the real me.” “If only she loved me the way I need to be love.” “Then I’ll finally be happy.” Little do we know that the key to a happy relationship is to realize that it is an internal quest.

Click to read more

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, Internal vs External QuestPart 2: The Imago Match

You hear it time and time again… “You’re acting just like my mother!” “I don’t need two fathers, thank you very much!” “I feel so alone in this marriage… like I did when I was a child.”

It’s a little bit freaky, but most people are attracted to mates who have their caregiver’s positive and negative traits.

Click to see why

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, the power strugglePart 3: The Power Struggle

You’re wild about each other. Totally in love. Can’t wait to build a life together. So you decide to commit and… all hell breaks loose. This is the power struggle You’ve spent your whole courtship imagining, consciously or unconsciously, how your partner’s going to complete you, and now you want the fantasy to become reality.

Thing is, we don’t enter into a relationship looking to help or heal our partner. We get into it to fulfill ourselves.

Click to see how to flip that equation

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, Closing Your ExitsPart 4: Closing Your Exits

Exits. We’ve all got them. These are activities we engage in to avoid intimacy with our partners. There are “hard” exits like divorce or insanity, and “soft” exits like overeating or watching too much T.V.

Why would we avoid intimacy with our partners? According to Harville Hendrix, it ties back to childhood, where we didn’t get all of our needs met, and we learned dysfunctional ways to avoid recreating this pain.

Click to view this post

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, Relationship VisionPart 5: Create A Relationship Vision

Without a shared vision, a relationship will perish. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, why not create a relationship vision with your partner? Mike and I did this based on Harville Hendrix’s Getting the Love You Want and it was a huge blessing in our lives! When we wrote it, some of the statements were aspirational, and not our present reality. What’s amazing is that, today, not only did our vision come true, it’s something we still use as a tool when we get off course.

Click to read our relationship vision

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, re romanticize partnershipPart 6: Re-Romanticize Your Partnership

Remember those early days of your courtship when we professed our love freely and did wonderful, thoughtful things for each other? But then, as time passes, we slowly stop doing those wonderful things and we grow complacent. We can even take each other’s love for granted.

It’s time to regain that loving feeling

Click to see how

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, the couples dialogue examplePart 7: The Couple’s Dialogue

“It’s all your fault!” “You’re always such a slob!” “Why don’t you ever listen to me?” In our weaker moments, this is how we can talk to our loved ones in the heat of an argument. But there’s a better way. It takes some time and patience to get the hang of, but it’s a wonderful tool for effective communication.

Click to see how to do the Couple’s Dialogue

Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, Reap the RewardsPart 8: Reap The Rewards

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, mamas! This was a pretty heavy series, so we wanted to dedicate this final video to something joyful. The fruits of a conscious marriage It’s like all those fantasies you had when you first met your partner come true. Only this time it’s based on reality.

Click to hear about the fruits of a conscious marriage

Do any of these concepts sound familiar?

What kinds of struggles have you experienced in your relationships? What books or resources helped you work through them? Share with us in the comments below!