The Love and Learning Behind Healthy Relationships and Happy Marriages

Article by Katelyn Briscoe

Photography by Melissa Hatcher

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

It’s a typical morning in the Ivey home: Barb is about to head out for work. Dick grabs the dog and walks her to the door as he sits in the rocking chair on their front porch. As she pulls out of the driveway, he waves her goodbye. Just as he does each day when she heads to work.

“I mean after 35 years of marriage, isn’t that cool? I mean who has that?” Barb Ivey says. “That’s what we have, and that’s what I’m saying we teach, and we keep learning, and we keep growing because it’s important to us.”

Celina locals Barb and Dick Ivey, owners of 24k Gold Marriage, are in the business of helping people transform their relationships. As educators, coaches, and mentors, they say their goal is to empower people to be more relational and happily connected. They do this by teaching a structured process for connecting: a step-by-step approach that leads people to listen without judgement and talk without criticism.

“Barb and I are really smart rats. We are well-schooled in a whole lot of stuff, but we didn’t know how to get relationships right and, as a consequence, this is not our first marriage,” Dick says. “But as we began this one, we discovered that we were falling into the same trap that we had been in before and that there must be something that we didn’t know that, perhaps, others knew about how to get relationships right.”

After spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours seeking out the best people in relationship education, they found what they were looking for.

“…After an extensive time of doing that kind of study and investigation, we have come to a place where we understand what it is and what it means to get relationships right and now, like a couple of recovering drunks, we want everybody to know,” Dick says.

To share what they have learned with others, the Iveys have been doing work together to help couples at all different stages of relationships for the past 30 years and have worked with over 600 couples in that time. Their passion and commitment to sharing their knowledge with others has manifested in weekend workshops where they welcome couples into their own home designed to accommodate guests.

“Here’s the problem. As smart rats as we are, nobody in our history came to teach us what we needed to know about relationships… So, the assumption is, in our society, that if you’re old enough and can find somebody that would have you, you’re automatically equipped to be a husband and wife or a parent, and that’s just wrong on so many counts. And so, our goal is to help as many couples—first of all, one on one couples—in our home,” Dick says.

During their weekend retreats, they host one couple at a time, welcoming them into their home for a nice dinner in their home on Friday evening; the couples stay the night for a day full of learning topped off with a date night on Saturday, and then stay the night one more evening to learn and work more on Sunday. For each couple they host, they design the curriculum specifically for that couple and their needs.

“Dick is really our teacher. He’s really good at it,” Barb says. “I’m very intuitive, and I kind of see things beyond words. So, together we do very well.”

To build their program, Barb and Dick learned about relationships from many notable people who study and share best practices of building healthy relationships, such as Harville and Helen Hendrix, Steve Stosny, Pat Love, Scott Stanley, Howard Markman, John Gottman, and Les and Lesley Parrott.

“They were able to give us pieces of the puzzle which we cobbled together, and then we began to practice the new skills and tools that they had taught us. Then we picked from those folks that had helped us—best practices things that had then organized into the program that we use today… And it’s not about us, it’s just about the processes that we teach,” Dick says.

In learning about what builds healthy relationships and marriages, they learned that family history and family of origin played a part in how they related to each other and that they would have to relearn some things they had experienced in childhood. Despite coming from different relational homes, Barb says they found, interestingly, that they had similar issues in their relationship. The learning that has built their business model also has built their marriage.

“I saw that we teach what we need to learn the most, and by continually teaching and coaching and mentoring, that our relationship continually gets stronger all the time,” Barb says. “And we learn, every time we work with a couple, we learn something new or are reminded of something we need to know. So, we teach that: what we need to learn the most.”

For more information on Barb and Dick Ivey’s services, their website is 24kGoldMarriage.org, where Dick also writes a daily prayer and a weekly blog called 24k Gold Nuggets, with weekly tidbits of relationship advice.

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