We’ve already shared with you the “official” bio and background of us. But there’s a whole lot more to the story than that. And we figured you’d find out about our story sooner or later when you come to a training of ours, or we meet you via the internet, so we might as well tell you now.
It’s not a short story (and trust us, the full story is a LOT longer), but if you want to know more about us, here goes…
Sonika and Christian may at first glance appear an unlikely couple. Christian is from Denmark, 15 years younger, tall, skinny, talks funny and his marriage with Sonika is his first. Sonika is from California, obviously older, the mother of two children, on her second or third marriage (depending on how you count) and used to be a lesbian.
Not exactly the description of an ideal couple to be teaching people about relationship. Or …?
Sometimes people will say, “How can you be a relationship expert if you have been divorced or haven’t been together for more than 30 years?” Well, let’s just say that we have both learned a great deal from what DOESN’T WORK. Most experts in any field have had their fair share of “mistakes” and “failures” to get to where they are today, and we are no exception. In fact, we are STILL learning better and more effective ways to love each other, ourselves and others, and plan to keep doing so until the day we die.
Sonika started her relationship life by watching her parents argue and fight their marriage to destruction when she was 15 years old. She swore she would do better! But her plan didn’t quite pan out.
Her first relationship at age 18 was with a man who didn’t talk much! He didn’t even talk when she said, “Listen, I can’t have a relationship if you don’t talk to me”. He just turned on his heels and left without saying a word!
Her second relationship, shortly after, occurred at the height of the women’s movement in the 70’s. Sonika was inspired and profoundly affected by the many powerful women she met, many of whom were lesbians. True to her inherent limit-busting nature, Sonika decided to try being in a relationship with a woman.
Unfortunately, the woman she ended up being in relationship with turned out to be a drinking, smoking, raging batterer. Sonika was beaten up on a regular basis.
Good thing about that abusive relationship experience was that it got her into therapy when she was only 20 years old. It was in therapy that a kind man helped her confront that she was unconsciously “choosing” to be victimized, and helped her see that she could in fact “choose” a more loving, powerful relationship path. Within a few months, she quit her abusive relationship and set out on a lifelong journey of finding, and later inventing, a better, more effective way to do relationships.
Sonika got three BA degrees, in Psychology, Sociology and Human Sexuality, respectively, and a Masters degree in Social Work. She went on to take all her clinical hours to become a licensed Social Worker, aka a “therapist”, but opted for various reasons not to follow the typical traditional therapeutic route (it could be because she’s psychologically incapable of taking the beaten track). Instead, she took the path less traveled and began inventing her own work. She founded LoveWorks in 1991 and began offering innovative relationship trainings and customized coaching sessions as an alternative to traditional therapy.
By the time she met Christian in the early 2000’s, she had already helped thousands of couples and singles create amazing relationships. She was herself in a long-term relationship with two great kids and a wonderful house. But she wasn’t very happy! Her relationship lacked sexual connection and depth, and despite having made huge strides in communication and conflict resolution, there was just something missing.
One day, a friend of hers recommended she go to the Option Institute to “get happy”. She and her partner agreed that they would do whatever it took to get happy, and Sonika started out by booking a trip to Massachusetts, the home of the Option Institute.
Christian, in the meantime …
Christian started out being, in his own words, a “stereotypical man”, not worrying too much about anything other than how to meet girls and have fun. He was a decent looking fellow with a pleasant demeanor, so he did indeed have lots of girls and fun. That was all great for a couple of years.
Before his 20th year, however, he started having pretty severe back and hip pains. It didn’t slow him down too much at first, but it made serious dents in his happiness and his own image of being cool and having a handle on things. It became increasingly apparent for him that he didn’t actually have a handle on much of anything.
Although he continued his “stereotypical” male behavior of getting drunk to feel sufficiently confident for hooking up with women, and getting into relationships that lasted either for a very short time or turned totally flat in no time, his internal conversation turned sour. Underneath his “game face” of “everything’s fine”, he felt dissatisfied and lonely.
One night, in his late 20’s, he was standing in the hallway of his apartment where his girlfriend of 5 months was pleading for him to give their relationship another chance. This was a woman of superb beauty he’d been pursuing diligently, only to discover that being with her was actually flat, boring, and devoid of excitement.
He was frozen solid in the face of her pleading, and just wanted the awkward moment to be over. Girlfriend-soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend said, “This can’t be it! This can’t be it!” She cemented what he had suspected, that no matter how beautiful or “perfect” the woman, he still managed to feel totally dead inside! He sent her off, feeling like a jerk for having treated her so poorly, and never saw her again!
But she’d nailed him with her last words. Despite his cool exterior, Christian was being driven mad by a little voice in his head that kept saying, “This CAN’T be it! There’s gotta be more than this! This can’t be it!”
This saying was true about every aspect of his life, particularly his relationship life. It had by then dawned on him that he was repeating himself endlessly in his relationships, and his hopes that all he needed was to find the “right” woman were shattered, because even with great women, he still managed somehow to turn his relationships to dust.
By his 30th birthday, he was so disillusioned with life in general that he was willing to do ANYTHING to get happy, healthy and find love.
Via a few different synchronous miracles, he finally discarded his old life and moved to Berlin, Germany, to hopefully find that “something more” he hoped was out there.
In his search for answers, he came across a little book by Barry Neil Kaufman, To Love Is To Be Happy With. It hit him straight between the eyes. Barry talked about how we humans create our own misery by our twisted and ineffective, but well-meaning, beliefs.
Some years later, when he found himself in love-deprived spiritual agony in Oaxaca, Mexico, Christian remembered having read that in that little book that Barry Kaufman and his wife, Samahria, ran a retreat facility in Massachusetts called The Option Institute.
Instead of following through on his searching-for-meaning-itinerary, he cancelled his ticket to Australia and instead spent his remaining $8000 savings on a retreat ticket to the Option Institute!
When he awoke on the first morning in the spectacular Berkshire Mountains setting of the Option Institute and went to the cafeteria, he sat down across from … you guessed it! … Sonika Tinker.
By lunchtime that Monday in October 2004, when they were in line to bus their dirty dishes, they were both exclaiming, “I LOVE YOU!”
And that was the beginning of a great love story …
The love, connection and the feeling of “I’ve-known-you-forever”continued to grow. They had a marvelous time for two weeks, not thinking they would ever see each other again. But they saw each other again three months later for another two weeks (Sonika and her partner amicably agreed to separate) and then visited two months after that for more time together in Denmark at Christian’s home, and then three months after that again – until being apart in two countries was simply too painful to bear.
Following Love’s call, Christian moved permanently to California, took on Sonika’s children as his own, and both were married amongst friends and family three years after first falling in love.
Sonika and Christian are now living the life of their dreams! Still madly in love, with kids half-time (and on great terms with Sonika’s ex), they consciously created and enjoy the relationship they always longed for. With complete and total honesty, a spark-filled passionate sex life, delightful play and laughter (Christian frequently chases Sonika through the house for sheer fun), continual expansive growth, and an aligned vision to help others live a great relationship, they often remark that their relationship is better than ANYTHING they could have imagined!
Sonika and Christian know what it is like to be in abusive, lonely, sex-less, flat relationships. They know what it is like to fight all the time, to feel hurt and misunderstood and lost. They know what it is like to go through divorce, to start over, to blend families and have shared custody of their kids.
That has all shifted. Now they know how to work through conflicts, take responsibility, have fun, keep sex alive and return to love when hurt or triggered. They know how to clean up their mistakes, repair damage and forgive one another. They know how to empower their own and each other’s Full Potential and go for creating their best dreams! And blame and finger-pointing is flat-out annihilated!
And it’s not because they are special, as you can tell from their stories. It is because they walk their talk and use the tools they invented and teach. These tools keep them happy, connected and in love. (Just so you know, they are around each other 24/7, working, parenting and living together, and even with that, they hardly ever fight and still have spontaneous sex in the living room.)
Sonika and Christian’s love for each other is palpable and real. Sometimes people say they learn as much about relationship from watching them and being around them, as they do from the ingenious and fun way they teach people to create great relationship.
Don’t take their word for it, though. Come experience them and their work. They are a loving, sweet, powerful and extraordinarily gifted couple who will absolutely help you create the same kind of transcendent loving relationship that they are grateful to share every day.
And just like they followed the “cues of Love” from the first time they met, and continued following their inspiration which ultimately led to the development of the new LoveWorksforYou, their inspiration now brings their gift of love and the predictable ability to create fabulous relationships to hundreds and hundreds of couples and singles just like you.
As you might hear them say at their next live relationship training, “Once you have attained that “thing” you want the most – in our case a true love and a fun-filled, easy relationship – there’s only one thing to do with it: GIVE IT AWAY!”