The Lead Domino and Your Tangled Mess

Hello beautiful people, my name is Athol, talking about marriage, relationships and getting what you want from them.

I’m going to talk about two linked concepts in this video, the first being the Lead Domino and the second one being the Tangled Mess.

So in terms of the Lead Domino, I want you to think of a chain of dominoes all lined up, and that very first one that you knock over that then knocks over all the other dominoes, that’s the Lead Domino. In terms of the story that you’re in, the story of your life, the Lead Domino is that first, most original problem or issue or trial that you faced, that then goes on to have repercussion effects through your life. That first problem causes some other problems and then you have workarounds for those problems and then they cause other problems and so on and so on. So it’s that first, most dramatic thing that’s really happened to you or happened to your partner that causes the majority of the problems in your life.

The Tangled Mess often occurs as this end result of this whole string of problems happening. It tends to be a big tangled mess that you can’t understand, you can’t figure out, because you’re not really aware of what that Lead Domino problem was. This is especially true of when you’re in a marriage, because you know what your Lead Domino problem is probably, but you may not necessarily know what your partner’s Lead Domino problem. Often it’s hidden just under layers of stuff and they may not necessarily know exactly what it is either.

So fast forward in your relationship and five, ten, fifteen years pass and you still have some of these original Lead Domino problems existing. But now you also having to do work arounds for them, and then you have to work arounds for the work arounds. Well then you end up with your life being this big Tangled Mess.

It can be okay in may ways but there’s always this big problem lurking. You may know what the elephant in the room is or you may not. Often the point start seeking out my help, is toward the end of the second act in the story of their relationship. It’s then my job to sift through all of this to try and find out what the Lead Domino is. For both people. So when people do coaching calls with me,or send me problems or whatever it is, I tend to ask an awful lot of questions ,because I know I’ve just come in at the end of the second act in their story.

It’s often they want to tell me what happened in the last three minutes of their movie, but I need to know the whole plot of the movie to date. That way we can start figuring out what the third act is going to look like. What’s the moves we need to make? What do we need to do?

So that’s why I ask a boatload of questions. I ask questions about not just what they’ve done in the last couple of weeks or months, but also tell me about the family history. Tell me about the personality types. Tell me about any big traumas that happened or big fights that you had or major relationship stresses that are happening from outside the relationship. Tell me about when the kids came or were there birth trauma. What kind of birth control are people on? There can be a whole array of questions I just need answers to because I’m trying to pick my way through the Tangled Mess looking for that Lead Domino.


Now the good news is if you can find that Lead Domino problem, and you can take some steps towards addressing it, sometimes people’s lives just dramatically improve. Not necessarily overnight, but within months or a year or two some really deep problems can suddenly all start slowly self-resolving. It can resolve in a cascade of positive changes, because once you fixed that Lead Domino, you don’t need the work arounds any more and sometimes these other problems start vanishing.

Once you get to the bottom of the Lead Domino, you start making progress and can suddenly you see their health improving immensely. You see their business improving immensely because they no longer have to do this time sink of wasted time and energy and effort around protecting this problem or whatever it is.

So if you find that Lead Domino, the Tangled Mess starts untangling itself just so much easier. If you can’t find what it is, that Tangled Mess stays just as intractable and as difficult to deal with as perhaps it always was, and maybe always will be. You can read books, can do counseling, go on retreats, take space and you can have fights, but if you never really get to the bottom of what that Lead Domino problem is, you’re going to have a really hard time of fixing your relationship and improving your life. Especially if the Lead Domino you don’t know about is hidden somewhere in your partner’s life and you haven’t quite found it or figured it out.

Often the solution to the Lead Domino issue at its core, at the very core of it, is finding the best way your partner needs to feel loved and validated because often that Lead Domino is just some form of pain. If you can soften that pain, and they can feel safe, secure and truly loved, often that goes an awfully long way of fixing just a myriad of issues in your relationship.

And I guess that’s about it. Thank you so much for watching. Please like, comment, share and most importantly please do subscribe on YouTube and I will talk to you tomorrow.


  1. […] In yesterday’s video I talked about the concept of the Lead Domino. A core structural problem in your life, usually coming from your childhood in some way, that then goes on to create problems and work arounds resulting in the giant Tangled Mess your life is. But it’s always the Lead Domino starting that whole chain of events. […]

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