My time in the Marines convinced me that when people experience pain and persevere, these trials can be the heat that welds a group together. There are a lot of guys I’ve known longer, and many guys who live closer to me, but, still, when I think of the guys I know I can count on, I think of the Marines I served with. I have a bond with those guys that I don’t find anywhere else, a brotherhood that often is thicker than blood. While no one wishes to suffer or to see others suffer, sometimes those devastating experiences can drive people to rely on each other, to help each other through trials that no individual could survive on their own.
The Marines taught me that suffering can draw people closer together, but it wasn’t until I got married that I really saw how powerful this reality can be in my personal life. My wife Kara and I have only been married for six years, but I can already say that some of the hardest moments in our marriage have been the most unifying. It’s the tears we’ve shed together that have bonded us much more than the times we’ve been laughing together. I’ve found that the most challenging moments are also the ones where I’ve felt most secure in my relationship with my wife. Yet I’ve seen the same trials destroy some couples and strengthen others. Almost all the couples whose relationship I hope to emulate have experienced significant trials at some point in their marriage. I’ve seen other couples bail out at precisely the moment when they can take their relationship to the next level.
I’ve learned that love isn’t about avoiding all suffering; it’s about supporting each other through our trials and growing in the midst of suffering. Of course, a couple shouldn’t seek suffering for its own sake. There’s also no excuse to persist in bad habits that harm the other person: addictions or abuse, for example. But the reality that love is there even in your darkest moments should give couples courage. I can’t guess what trials Kara and I will have to face down the road. But I am confident that whatever comes our way, we’ll be able to face it because we’ll do it together. I know that in difficult moments there is always the temptation to throw in the towel. But I also know that by sticking together, not only will we overcome whatever comes our way, those trials will become the very things that bond us together more closely.