Trista and I recently celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. To be completely honest, we actually celebrated a day early. Why a day early? Simply put, it just worked out better that way. Like most, our lives are full, driven in large part by the equally full lives of our children. While December 6th worked out well for our wedding day, it did not work out well for our 13th anniversary day. In the military this falls under the “Adapt and Overcome” credo. In marriage, I believe it’s called Improvising?
Why do I mention this? As Trista and I have progressed from reality television to reality reality, we’ve been asked countless times to give advice or to reveal our secret. While there isn’t a single piece of advice I could give or any one true secret to marital success, there is something I believe, looking back, that is instrumental in our ability to not only persevere but to flourish and grow as a married couple. That one thing is resilience.
Of course, when most of us think of resilience we associate it with the ability to push through some sort of challenge in order to achieve some sort of desired result. Resilient people are able to overcome discomfort, to ignore painful circumstance, to ride out the storm so to speak. Resilience is a component of effective leadership and a topic covered in effective leadership training programs. It’s a hot topic. Both Trista and I have this kind of resilience. At times, it has served our marriage well. At times, it has not. Resilience in the marital context is a 50/50 proposition. There are times when it should be called upon and times when it’s best tempered or even ignored.
For example, marriage is (hopefully) a long road. It’s full of both joy and pain but ultimately and ideally, it’s focused on a shared and meaningful end goal – A happy life. Resiliency is needed to bridge the painful moments together – the key word being “together.” In this case resiliency is good. However, marriage is a two-person event. We all know that two people, no matter how much they love each other, don’t always agree. When resilience is used in opposition it is what my wife likes to call, “being stubborn.” I am stubborn and therefore I can assure you, it is not the secret to a happy marriage. When resiliency becomes stubborn and antagonistic, when it is used in conflict with a partner or friend, in those cases, resiliency is bad. It is not just bad it is poison. Don’t drink it. Instead, channel your brave self and take the high road. Find kindness by walking in your partner’s shoes. Break the cycle and come back together to overcome the current challenge as a couple. Get resilience back on the good side.
Had either Trista or I been stubborn about celebrating our anniversary on our actual anniversary, we’d most likely have missed out on any celebration at all. There in lies the secret – knowing when resilience is resilience or when it’s just plain stubborn. Good luck!