How to Have a Resilient Relationship (with a problem person)

Want a resilient relationship?

A resilient relationship is one that once sucked, now is successful.

“Successful” can mean many things. What “success” means to you is what’s most important. For example, I had a relationship with my teenage son that got so bad, we couldn’t live together anymore.

He lived one place.

I lived in another.

I rarely saw him. I didn’t care. I just enjoyed not having the headache.

As time went on, I started feeling a loss. When I did see him, we barely spoke. This distance was starting to get to me. My inner voice was nudging me to do something about this obvious disconnect. I wanted our relationship repaired.

I took action.


Step 1: Get In Touch with What YOU Are Doing that Hurts the Relationship

Believe it or not…accept it or not…you are doing something that hurts your relationship.

The first action I had to take was to get in touch with what I was doing that made the relationship tough. I had a responsibility in this, whether or not I wanted to admit it. I was playing an unhealthy/unsuccessful role.

What I was doing was pointing out his many faults, which seemed – in my mind – the reason for our problems. After all, if he would just do what he was told, the relationship would be just fine. I’m the mommy and he is the child!


But that approach wasn’t working and it never did work, although I kept at it.


Step 2: Get In Touch with What YOU are Feeling that Drives What You Do

Once I got in touch with what I was doing that wasn’t helping the relationship, I had to do the next HARDEST step: get in touch with what I was feeling that was driving my doing (pointing out his faults). What I was feeling was my own sense of inadequacy as a mother.

Yes…I felt that I wasn’t a good-enough-mother.

If I were a good-enough-mother (I reasoned), then my son would do what I told him to do, he would be respectful, and our relationship would be easy.


Step 3: Get Authentic…with the Other Person

Get authentic with the other person means you openly share what you have been doing and feeling that causes difficulty between you two.

This step requires some coaching. If you are not used to being open-hearted about how your behavior and feelings affect a relationship, you will need some coaching on this. Authenticity has a specific energy of truthfulness.

You cannot fake authenticity.

The receiver will smell its purity or rottenness.

If it’s pure, the receiver won’t resist your open-heartedness.  In many cases, the receiver will open his/her heart too. However, if you fake authenticity (and you can fake not even knowing you are faking), the receiver will smell that fakeness and resist big time! Your words will fall on deaf ears or be rejected altogether. Worse case, an argument will follow.

I invited my son to breakfast at his favorite eating place. He agreed. In that time together, I acknowledged the very specific things I said that caused him frustration and pain (e.g., “If you did your chores, you’d be a better student.” “Why do your sisters do what they are supposed to do and you don’t?” “Get a job, or get out of my house.”). Then, I admitted that I felt inadequate as a mother.

No, he didn’t make me feel inadequate.

I brought that feeling into my relationship with him.

This was not about BLAMING him. This was about taking responsibility where I was clear I could.


Step 4: Offer a Path to Resilience

This is an important step. After you have gotten authentic, (and if done correctly, the receiver will now be open to a new and improved relationship), offer a way to improve the relationship. The receiver will be able to get authentic with you too. That’s when a sweet exchange takes place. There is nothing more exhilarating than two hearts opening up when once both were closed.


Suggest ways that you can improve and allow the receiver to do the same (don’t you dare offer suggestions in which the receiver can improve!). Then, come to an agreement to follow the suggestion. The suggestion can be simple. There is no need to complicate this.

In my example with my son, his heart opened up. I agreed to shift my thoughts to what he does well when I’m feeling inadequate. He asked me to be “more excited” about his school work accomplishments than he is for himself. Now, he tells me every day about an accomplishment and I respond with “WooHooo!!!” and give him ridiculous praise!

It’s a beautiful experience.

My son is back living with me part-time during my custody. We spend one-on-one time together when he is with me. We have gotten to know one another.

I like him (success).

He likes me too (success).

He shares what’s going on with him in school and life (he freely shares, using full sentences vs. the dull “Yes”, “No” that teenagers typically give).

SUPER success.

We are experiencing a resilient relationship. You can too.

Are you courageous enough to do your part to bring the happiness and success you deserve and want in a relationship?

I believe you are.

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