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Rescue Your Marriage: The Power of ‘Safe Conversation’

By Caitlin Burke

Talking: it’s something we do throughout the day. We chat about the weather, movies, our kids. We breeze from one subject to another, yet when it comes to talking about relationships, we often hit the brakes — or worse.

“There is a myth in our culture and that myth is that if you’re struggling in your relationship, maybe you’re married to the wrong person. If you’re fighting, maybe you should get a divorce,” Dr. Helen Hunt said.

Time for a Change

Hunt and her husband, Dr. Harville Hendrix, say it’s time to change that.

“Through conversation alone, a safe conversation, a new kind of talking, we could change the whole fabric of human beings all over the world,” said Hendrix.

For years, the couple worked to help others, just like themselves, build stronger relationships. Then they looked at society as a whole and found relationships were still falling a part. That led them to take their relational technology, information and science from clinic to community.

In 2012, they began an experiment to improve the wellness of Dallas by first concentrating on the wellness of the family.

“When the couple falls apart then their kids fall a part,” Hunt explained. “When the couple fights, the kids pick up that toxic energy and they begin to absorb it and they don’t thrive at home.”

“If the kids don’t thrive at home, they can’t thrive at school,” she continued. “And if they don’t do well at school then they don’t do well when they graduate, and then they don’t do well at work.”

“When they don’t work well at work, it becomes a drain on the culture and then there are all these welfare programs. If you want to solve the problem of poverty, go upstream and fix the couple,” Hunt said.

The “technology,” called Safe Conversations, teaches a couple to both talk and listen.

“Talking is the most dangerous thing that people do and everybody talks. Very few people know how to talk so that they don’t produce some kind of rupture or conflict or get into competition or say, ‘That’s not right. What I’m saying is right and what you’re saying is wrong,’ or, ‘You should correct that,'” Hendrix said.

Connection, Safety & Communication

During free workshops, Hendrix and Hunt teach couples to connect and feel safe with each other through healthy communication.

“People are longing to be in relationship, but they didn’t know how,” Hunt said. “We now have the technology to teach couples to be in relationship and when couples are in relationship, their kids pick it up. And when their kids pick it up, it can begin to go out into the culture.”

That’s why special childcare is provided during the workshops, so the kids can learn the same lessons as their parents.

“What happens with that now is that the whole family is equipped with the same information and the same technology about how to be safe in a conversation,” Hendrix told CBN News.

“What we’re excited about is, it’s the lack of safety in families that ultimately produces the ruptures that cause family splitting and divorce and all the negative things that go with a loss of family cohesion,” he said.

It’s becoming a relationship revolution. The goal is to change the entire culture of society, one relationship at a time.

“If we could change up to 30 percent of the families in America, we would change the whole culture and in that sense change western civilization,” Hendrix said.

More Than Therapy

Hendrix and Hunt tested this relationship technology on their own marriage out of necessity and desperation.

“The therapist actually called us the ‘Couple from Hell.’ We were horrible,” Hunt recalled. “We knew more than that therapist; we’d read every relationship book. We went to five therapists in New York, so we started talking to the divorce lawyer.”

“Then we decided, ‘Well maybe we should apply the system to our relationship.’ So we did and oh my goodness it works,” she said.

“What we discovered was that you can’t just decide to do it,” Hendrix added. “You have to practice it every day.”

The Dallas experiment is working and now the couple plan to take their workshops into other communities. As a bonus, they told CBN News the couples they’ve helped are spreading the word as well.

“These couples are becoming a little army in the front-line of a relational revolution and we’re going to support them,” Hendrix said.


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