What does it take to have a relationship that can thrive well into your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond? What are the best ways to FIND a conscious relationship? Or to shift your current relationship into a place of being energized for what’s possible? And have you ever wondered why it can be so easy to blame someone else in an argument – and if there’s any way to eradicate criticism and blame from your relationship once and for all?
Today’s guest is Gay Hendricks, co-author with his wife Katie of the classic book Conscious Loving, as well as the new book Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond. Along with his wife, Gay is one of THE experts on how to have relationships that fit into the new paradigm for love – relationships that continue to grow and be a source of inspiration both within the partnership, but also for the communities surrounding the relationship. He has been a leader in the field of relationship transformation for over 45 years – and has appeared on Oprah, 48 Hours, CNN, and…today he is here on Relationship Alive.
My conversation with Gay covers the following topics:
- Conscious Loving Ever After, his new book with his wife Katie (or Kathlyn) Hendriks, picks up where their original Conscious Loving (1992) left off.
- What does it take to have a thriving relationship into midlife and beyond? Are you taking into account your stage of adult development in your relationship? Does your relationship reinforce where you’re at in life? Even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, are you setting yourself up for long-term success in your life and relationship?
- How do you find a partner for a conscious relationship, or shift your current relationship to a conscious relationship?
- Step One is getting really clear on what you want in your relationship. What would you want to be committed to? What would you want your partner to be committed to? In our conversation, Gay recounts the steps he took on his personal journey to a “conscious loving” relationship with his wife, Katie. He crafted a “prayer to the universe” – a list detailing EXACTLY what he wanted in a relationship.
- Step Two is to be clear about what you absolutely DON’T want. Gay had created a list of the three “must haves” and the three “must not haves”.
- Step Three: After you’ve created your list of Three Absolute Yesses and Three Absolute Nos in your relationship, the next step is to set a clear intention (some might call it a “prayer” – but you’re at least making a clear commitment to yourself) that you will NOT settle for less. That you are perfectly fine being single rather than settling.
- Are you ok being alone? At this point it’s worth mentioning that if you’re NOT ok with being alone…what’s up? I’m not saying that you have to be ALONE alone, living like a hermit in some cave. Why not enjoy your community and your friends to the fullest, and the way that you can create intimacy with them, the way that your life and creative spark is (hopefully) supported by them, and let THAT send ripples out into the world (which has a good chance of leading you and your future partner to cross paths)?
- What are the core commitments for a lifelong conscious relationship?
- A commitment to honesty and integrity
- A commitment to creative growth
- A commitment to taking personal responsibility (no blame and criticism)
- Are there any that you would add here?
- What feelings come up for you as you make your list of musts and must-nots? In making a “list” of requirements, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings involved in each item: fear, sadness, despair, pain, love, excitement, etc. Can you feel those feelings and have compassion for yourself? Loving yourself more opens up more opportunities to love your partner.
- Develop the skill of being present. To be “present” or “in the moment,” you have to open your heart, mind, and body and befriend your feelings. Can you be curious about your own feelings? Can you tend to the part of you that’s feeling them, especially the difficult emotions? Can you guide yourself through that instead of looking for a partner to do it for you?
- Are you committed to your own Creativity? Many people realize at some point that they have sacrificed their creativity to fit into some “role” in life. However, allowing yourself to do something creative every day, to surprise yourself, will allow you to grow the part of you that is the unique expression of YOU on the planet. The more that you can be more fully YOU, the more that you can more fully be in relationship with a partner and encourage them to be more fully them.
- Pay attention to how you’re using technology. Today’s technology actually brings more opportunities to be dishonest with your partner unless open-hearted communication is a priority in your relationship. Are there things that you’re hiding from your partner? Or are you letting technology get in the way of direct, face-to-face (and heart-to-heart) communication with your partner?
- Can you commit to having a relationship free from criticism and blame? It’s easy to get addicted to the little bursts of adrenaline that we get when we criticize or blame our partners, and yet no force is more destructive in a relationship.
- How can you stop blaming and take responsibility? First step is to commit to looking within for the answers. Try a “wonder-shift,” – saying something to yourself like “Hmmmm, I wonder…what it is that I’m doing that keeps causing this experience to happen?” or “Hmmm, I wonder…what my partner’s experience of me is right now?” or…you get the drift, right? 🙂
http://www.hendricks.com – Gay and Katie Hendricks’s website
http://www.neilsattin.com/gay is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode’s airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “Conscious Loving Ever After”!
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Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:
Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment by Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks
Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond by Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks