"Incompatibility is grounds for marriage" isn't relationship advice you hear often, but Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. are convinced it is exactly the type of thing that couples need to hear.
"Incompatibility plays a crucial role in preparing you and your partner to meet each other’s needs," wrote Hendrix and Hunt in their recent book “Making Marriage Simple: 10 Truths For Changing The Relationship You Have Into The One You Want." "…Honestly, compatibility is grounds for boredom."
“Making Marriage Simple" contains the basic truths authors Hendrix and Hunt, ages 77 and 64 respectively, have learned about marriage throughout 30 years together. They found inspiration for the book after overcoming a rough patch, which almost threatened to tear the couple apart 15 years ago.
"We tried like five therapists, the fifth therapist even called us the couple from hell," said Hunt, whose work in philanthropy got her elected to the National Women’s Hall Of Fame. “But eventually we mastered [marriage]. We learned how to talk to each other -- we still had issues, but learned how to deal with it in a way so that we still feel intimate at the end of the day.”
Hendrix and Hunt, who now counsel couples around the world, say negativity was one of the problems that once plagued their marriage. To fix the problem, they made a daily chart that was filled with either a smiley or frown face, depending upon if they made it through the day without negative actions. The idea that "negativity is invisible abuse," is now among one of the basic truths listed in their book.
"Negativity is like putting toxins in a relationship," said Hendrix. "We made a deliberate attempt to remove the pattern of negativity from our relationship and that was what made the [it] safe again."
Among the other truths espoused in their book are that couples should embrace their incompatibilities and that marriage should be funny.
“Helen is more expressive, emotional and intuitive, while I’m more logical and detached," said Hendrix, a pastor who has written several other books including, "Getting the Love You Want." "But instead of looking at [these things] as differences and asking 'how come you’re so emotional?' … [look at them as] stimulants for growth."
Hunt and Hendrix also believe that although all relationships have serious issues, the issues should not be treated seriously. They try to relay that couples should maintain lightheartedness by filling their book with cartoons and putting polka dots on its cover.
"Knowing when to be lighthearted is an art form … many couples find themselves working so hard on their relationship, that they forget to actually have fun together," wrote Hunt and Hendrix.
Several other truths listed in the book are: "romantic love is a trick," "conflict is growth trying to happen," and "being present for each other heals the past."
Hendrix wants readers to understand that these truths are not difficult to attain.
"It’s not rocket science, it’s not easy, but it's simple. Leave negative stuff out, leave positive stuff in, and do that until your relationship is safe and you have the marriage of your dreams,” said Hendrix.
"Everyone can have the marriage of their dreams, don't give up hope," added Hunt.