By Katie & Gay Hendricks
We didn’t always have a blissful relationship. Early on in our marriage, there was tension, conflict, even fear.
Yet many people who come to our seminars or see our videos think we’re the perfect couple. They see the harmony that exists between us, and they think it must have always been this way. Some might even think we’re too good to be true.
Then they look at their own relationships and think, “Geez, I’m so far from that. Surely they’ve clicked like this all along. Maybe they just have something we don’t.”
But what we had wasn’t something you don’t have.
What we had was a commitment to change our relationship. And you can have that same commitment, and follow the same path that we did.
Here’s how we did it:
During our first few years together, we slid into some common, destructive patterns that threatened our connection.
Gay had a tendency to be critical of Katie, pointing out everything from grammatical errors to the way she wrinkled her forehead. Katie wound up feeling like she was always doing something wrong, bracing herself for the next critique, and blaming him for doing so.
It took us a few years to even realize we were in a pattern of criticism.
In fact, it wasn’t until Katie’s parents came to visit that the light bulb went off. They were bickering the whole time, and it just made us cringe. Things were tense and uncomfortable – not our picture of a happily-married couple.
Where was the love? We certainly didn’t want to be like that.
Then we realized that we were doing the same thing! We thought we were just being clever – intellectually one-upping or taking slight digs at each other – but it was bickering all the same.
And it wasn’t good.
We knew we didn’t want blame and criticism to run our marriage, let alone ruin it. So we thought long and hard about what we were going to do, and then it came:
“What if we could invent a relationship that ran entirely on positive energy?”
…if we could eliminate blame and criticism, we could spend our time celebrating all the things we loved about each other.
Right then, we had the idea that if we could eliminate blame and criticism, we could spend our time celebrating all the things we loved about each other, and feel happy and connected moment to moment.
So we went on a diet. We cut out all the blame and criticism from our lives.
We started with one day, then one week, until, eventually, we made it years and years!
It wasn’t easy at first, just like most diets. But together, we made it our commitment – sticking with it, and developing tools along the way to make sure we didn’t get off track.
About three years later, we were able to switch to these tools immediately, even when things would get tense between us.
The tools worked for us, because we dug deep: In exploring the role of blame and criticism between us, we discovered the underlying, not-so-obvious reasons why we were bickering to begin with. And it wasn’t because Katie was making grammatical mistakes!
On the surface, most relationship conflict looks like one person is the bad guy, and the other is the victim. In this case, Gay looks pretty guilty!
But relationship conflicts are never this clear-cut. There’s a dynamic at play – with each partner working off the other – and when you discover your hidden relationship dynamic, that’s where the real breakthrough happens and the door to intimacy is thrown wide open.
In our case, Gay (to his surprise) discovered that he was harboring a fear of intimacy that was keeping Katie at a distance, while Katie realized her childhood had inadvertently primed her to feel criticized.
Once we unearthed the real cause of our relationship dynamic and committed to applying the tools, miracles happened.
Blame and criticism were replaced with bliss and connection, and we felt so satisfied in our marriage that we vowed to teach other couples how to achieve the same – with in-person counseling and seminars that ultimately landed us on Oprah’s stage.
Every few days, we’ll send you insightful advice and practical tools that will help make blame and criticism a thing of the past for you. You’ll learn:
We haven’t exchanged a single word of blame or criticism in more than 15 years, and we know that if you’re committed to the process, a loving, joyous relationship is more than possible for you, too. Start here: