The One Thing That Will Save A 'Hopeless' Relationship

The One Thing That Will Save A 'Hopeless' Relationship
Love, Self

There is something that is so profound in human relationships, it has the power to turn around even the most challenging situation in an instant: vulnerability. Although some may mistake it for weakness, the truth is that vulnerability is actually your greatest strength. That's because standing in front of another person with a mix of raw honesty, radical authenticity and compassion may actually be one of the greatest acts of courage some people will ever perform.

The Power Of Vulnerability

Let me give you an example of how vulnerability can shift the course of a relationship in a heartbeat. I have a set of clients who are dangerously close to a divorce. It really is "make it or break it" time, so there is a definite sense of urgency. For the time being, they have both bought into the idea of withholding judgment — long enough to see how that goes during our work together in the coming weeks. (Talk about a tense situation.) In our last session, I helped them understand a recent argument from a new perspective, which was game-changing. When I heard what started it all, I helped them come to a new understanding of the real issue underlying the disagreement. Armed with this new information, I asked the husband what his wife really needed to know in the moment when the fight was raging.

It was in that very instant when everything changed and even I was almost taken aback by the suddenness of the shift. I saw his face soften, his voice almost cracked and there was a different tonality in his voice as he said the words his wife had needed to hear from him for a long time. As I looked at her face, it was clear that I was not the only one taken aback. Then I asked her what her husband needed to know. Her response was heartfelt, raw and filled with an new level of humility. It was a huge and powerful turning point in their relationship — one of those moments when I was so humbled and grateful to do the work I am blessed to do. 

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Opening Up

When I talk about this profound power, some people have no idea on earth how to access it. The very thought of lowering their guard or softening is enough to send them running in the opposite direction. It's almost as if "fight or flight" were their only two options. Luckily, they are not, and frankly, neither of them are even remotely effective if you want a solution. They try "everything" — except the one thing that actually works.

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Albert Einstein famously said, "You can never solve a problem on the level at which it was created." As I said in my scenario with the couple on the edge of divorce, the solution was not in the issue that caused the fight. Once we addressed that, we shifted everything. That's why I help my clients see beneath the "fog of war" and get down to what's real — that's where the solution can be found. The fog only muddies the picture, blinds both parties and prolongs the battle, while increasing the damage. When two people constantly dig in and fortify their positions, a fight is the only possible result. When just one partner steps up and drops his/her "weapons," only in that moment can healing begin.

Yes, I understand that this is a lot harder than it sounds. It's hard to let go of pride and take a risk and then get hurt "yet again." I get that. That's why I've had a great deal of success as a third-party mediator: I look out for both parties simultaneously and work toward a new understanding and lasting peace. I focus on workable, permanent solutions and create a safe space for both parties so they can resolve their issues rather than rehashing them. I help to create a new awareness, and I teach the new skills needed that help my clients transform everything. Most people think they're limited to terrible choices like fight or flight, or saving face versus losing half of everything they own. There are always multiple choices, and the one that shifts everything is called vulnerability. If your relationship is in real trouble, the first step in getting vulnerable is asking for help — so feel free to contact me before it's too late.