CRUCIBLES

RELATIONSHIPS

by Andy Bernstein


The Appalachian Trail is a 2,194-mile footpath stretching from Maine to Georgia. It looks like this:

Map of a 2,200 mile trail running from Maine to Georgia

Imagine you’re going to hike it. You’re excited! It will take you 5-7 months to complete. When it’s finally time to start, this is the map you’re given:

Map of a tiny piece of trail in Maine. The rest of the trail is missing.

Have a great time!

Hiking The Relationship Trail

You may not remember it, but you were also given a map for romantic relationships. We all were. It looks something like this:

You meet. You fall in love. Things are going great. After a while, though, you hit a rough patch. Where did that come from? Why doesn’t it feel as easy as it did in the beginning? But you work through it, telling yourself that relationships are supposed to be hard. You are committed to each other, and you’re determined to face the future together and live happily ever after.

This map isn’t printed on paper — instead, it’s all around you. Fairy tales, romantic comedies, and every Disney movie ever made taught you how to meet, how to date, and how to fall in love. They showed you how to start a great relationship. They didn’t show you how to sustain one. The movie always ended where the real story begins.

In other words, you are missing most of the map. Have a great time!

Fairy tales, romantic comedies, and every Disney movie ever made taught you how to meet, how to date, and how to fall in love. They showed you how to start a great relationship. They didn’t show you how to sustain one.

Making a Better Map

Realizing that something important is missing from our guidance on relationships, some people seek more. I did. Two popular resources were:

  • John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, which is filled with practical information on what strong marriages do differently. I was impressed in particular by the outsized role of contempt in destroying relationships.

  • Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, which I initially thought was going to be pop psycho-babble. But the framework of different ways we prefer to receive love is surprisingly revealing.

These books have helped millions of people fill in their relationship maps. But applying this on the ground to the twists and turns in front of you is still challenging.

For example, let’s say (thanks to Dr. Gottman) you know you should avoid contempt, which is the number one killer of relationships. That sounds straightforward, but how exactly do you avoid contempt when your partner keeps doing things that bother you?


Or let’s say that (thanks to The Five Love Languages), you now understand that your partner’s love language is physical touch and yours is words of appreciation. That explains so much! But it doesn’t make you want to physically touch them when they keep failing to appreciate you.

Better maps give us pictures of where to go and the pitfalls to avoid, but putting that into practice can still be challenging.

I built the Resilience Academy to make things easier. It’s a way of taking the things you’ve learned about good relationships and “operationalizing” them so that your relationship actually feels different:

  • First, in “Level 1: Breaking the Stress Cycle,” you discover how stress works. This is eye-opening, especially in romantic relationships, because your partner can seem to be causing your negative emotions, like frustration, anger, and contempt. But that’s not what’s actually happening. In this course, you’ll see why. Level 1 is free so you can start learning the truth about stress right now.

  • If you want to keep going, in “Level 2: The Most Important Thing,” you’ll learn the most important thing for happiness based on the world’s longest study — and why it’s not what you think. You don’t need another date night or romantic vacation. This course helps you focus on what you do need, and shows you how to do it.

  • In “Level 3: Crucibles,” we go even further. You learn about adverse experiences, called “crucibles,” that make or break us in life. Actual crucibles transform metals. Symbolic crucibles transform people into better partners, better parents, better leaders. But they don’t do that automatically — something very specific has to happen. You’ll learn what that thing is, and how to bring the transformational power of crucibles into your life.

All of this happens without your saying a word. It’s not therapy. It’s not motivation. It’s online resilience training to help your relationship thrive. The best relationships aren’t the ones without challenges. They’re the ones with the best toolkits to handle them. The Resilience Academy gives you those tools.

And yes, ideally, your partner will learn this too, and there’s a significant discount if you learn and grow together. But it starts with you, and it starts for free, so you can try it without risk.

You wouldn’t go on a long hike without the right map and tools. Doesn’t the most important relationship in your life deserve that too?

The best relationships aren’t the ones without challenges. They’re the ones with the best toolkits to handle them.