When I was in sniper school our instructors used to tell us “attrition is the mission.” They knew that combat was stressful, and so they did their best to weed out those that couldn’t handle extreme stress, both mental and physical. We were often pushed to our limits and many of the men I started with did not finish school, dropping out at various stages. At the same time, other guys found out they were much stronger than they thought, and they not only passed, they thrived in training.
So what divided the guys that passed from the guys that failed? The guys that passed worked as a team. When a friend couldn’t complete one of our runs, the guys divided his gear amongst the rest of us, so that we could all share his load. When someone fell behind academically, the rest of us would stay up late to help him study. And I probably wouldn’t have passed without the support of my spotter, Nathan, who would study my gun book with me and help me improve my marksmanship. This was a helpful lesson that stuck with me as I deployed to Iraq: to accomplish great things we need support around us. I learned this lesson in the Marine Corps, but I’ve found it to be even truer in marriage.
Marriage is a lot more fun than the Marines, but any married couple can tell you that it has its share of challenges too. I want to be the best husband I can possibly be, I don’t just want to be married, I want to thrive, and that’s where my experience in the Marines has helped me. I’ve learned that greatness is accomplished as a team, and that if I was to be a great husband I better surround myself with men who will encourage, challenge, and support me when I need it. I could find plenty of guys who will speak poorly of marriage (we have all heard “the old ball and chain” jokes), the guys who are constantly complaining about how hard marriage is. But to me that’s a sure path to mediocrity, which is just not what I’m looking for.
Instead, I surround myself with guys who honor their wives and marriages. I’m made better by spending time with friends who know things can be hard, but also know that important things always are. I’ve found that, more than once, these guys have called me out when I’ve failed to love my wife as she deserves, and I hope they continue to do so.
Who are the guys that call you on to greatness, who support you when things are hard? What advice do you have for thriving when things get tough?