Love is Blindness: Marriage Counselor Harville Hendrix on Being Wrong
Whatever else you want to say about it, wrongness is a capacious subject. Since this blog began, I've interviewed people about the relationship between error and medicine, encyclopedias, computers, space travel, corporate culture, hedge funds, mountain climbing, storytelling, Israel, omelets, education, Leona Helmsley, and the Cleveland Indians, among many other subjects. And yet, somehow, I've yet to broach the issue of how our thoughts and feelings about wrongness affect one of the most important—maybe the most important—arena of human life. I'm talking, of course, about love.
Enter Harville Hendrix. Hendrix is the author of the best-selling Getting the Love You Want, along with the also-best-selling Keeping the Love You Find and many other books. With his wife and business partner, Helen LaKelly Hunt, he pioneered the concept of "conscious partnership" and developed a form of counseling he calls Imago Relationship Therapy. Oprah Winfrey, who has hosted Hendrix on her show 17 times, refers to him as "the marriage whisperer." I sought Hendrix out to ask him why most of us are so attached to being right and so threatened by being wrong—and what we can do to rethink those attitudes about wrongness to improve our relationships with our partners, our families, and ourselves. You can read my interview with him over at Slate, temporary home to this blog.
Okay, maybe you don’t have strong beliefs about the “right” way to load a dishwasher, or about your sweetheart’s propensity to do it “wrong.” In that case, either you are unusually saintly or (like me) you don’t own a dishwasher. But you almost certainly get involved in domestic disputes about who’s right and who’s wrong all the time; we all do. Although interpersonal arguments can have a number of causes – from serious and painful breaches in trust to the fact that we haven’t had our coffee yet – an impressive number of them amount to a tug-of-war over who possesses the truth. We fight over the right to be right.