The best relationship tip you’ll ever get: Ask for help.

When we travel, we make sure we have snacks, water, our cell phones, our google maps, and maybe an atlas (for us old folks). Along the way, even with the right tools, we make mistakes; we read the signs wrong; or we miss an of-ramp, so we ask others for help. Side-of-the-road gas stations were frequently visited on my interstate explorations. There was no shame. Simply, I got out of my car; told anyone who’d listen I was lost; and asked for instructions to get where I wanted to go. I got exactly what I asked for, then got back in my car– with no problem. It was nothing more than a short little detour.

Relationships are similar in much the same way. Along the way, we make mistakes. We miss signs. We think we saw a sign that wasn’t really there. We read a sign wrong, or miss an of-ramp. At some point or another we realize we are of course. Dependent upon how long it took us to realize we were on the wrong path, we re-evaluate the journey, the destination, and sometimes, the traveling companions. When we get lost on road trips, we can ask for directions, but when we need help with our relationships, we choose not to ask. We rather suffer, then ask. Why is that?

Somewhere we’ve learned that if we can’t get things together ourselves, we are idiots. Or, because we think everyone else has their “stuff ” together, we are embarrassed to admit our struggles. Or, we settle for what we have, daring not to ask for more. We settle for the mundane, the mediocre. We play it safe. We play not to lose, instead of playing to win, to get maximum gain. When we choose not to play for maximum gain, we miss out on all life has in store for us. Think about it this way, when you play a game of poker, do you tell yourself, I’m only playing to win up to $100? Or, do you play to win the most you can?

Relationships are complicated. Relationships take patience and effective communication. They need direction, inspiration, and motivation. Until we stop being embarrassed to ask for help, we’ll always get lost, and sometimes we’ll stay lost–ending up God knows where, miles and miles of the beaten path.

Every week My husband and I meet with Jessica Torralva at the Family Tree Project in Kapolei. We decided we weren’t going to play it safe. We decided to play for maximum gain. We chose not to let “the right way” or “the way our parents did it” or “the traditional way” stop us from playing to win. Tank God for making that choice to ask for help. My husband and I take less detours.

Ask for helpImagine being on a long road trip, with your best friend, your favorite snacks, music, and all the navigation tools you need. Imagine a gas station every mile along the roadway, where you could ask for help anytime you needed it, and people were always there to help. Those are the kinds of relationships we can have if we stop trying to go at them alone. Help is available. You can call your own family practitioner, or at places like the Family Tree Project. Get excited about sharing your struggles. They’ll take you to your successes.