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:

Picture of Appalachian Trail map with most of the map missing

Good luck out there!

Hiking The Relationship Trail

You may not remember it, but you were also given a map for romantic relationships. We all were. 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.

But these maps, like the second image above, are alarmingly incomplete. They showed you how to start a great relationship. They didn’t show you how to sustain one. The movies always end where the real story begins.

Making a Better Map

Realizing that something important is missing from our roadmap to relationships, many people seek out additional guidance. Two popular resources are:

  • John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, which is filled with practical information on what strong marriages do differently. Note in particular the outsized role of contempt in destroying relationships.
  • Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, which sounds like it’s going to offer cheesy pop psychology. But millions of people (including me) have found the framework of different ways we each prefer to receive love surprisingly revealing.

But even with better maps, applying this to your particular relationship can be 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 has done something you resent — and keeps doing things that bother you?

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

More complete maps can show us where to go, but that’s not always enough to get us there.

The Resilience Academy can help make real relationship change more practical:

  • First, in “Level 1: Breaking the Stress Cycle,” you discover how stress works. Most of us think our partner causes our negative emotions, like frustration, anger, and contempt. But that’s not what’s actually happening. In this course, you’ll see why, and you’ll understand how your emotions (and theirs) really work. Level 1 is free so you can start learning this right now, with no risk.
  • If you decide 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 simply money, faith, relationships, or even love. Level 2 helps you take what you learned in Level 1 on stress and apply it more directly to relationships and happiness.
  • In “Level 3: Crucibles,” you go even further. You’ll learn how adverse experiences, called “crucibles,” make or break us in life. You’ll unlock content that helps you harness the transformational power of crucibles in your own life, especially in relationships, so you show up as a better partner, parent, and human being.

All of this happens without your going anywhere or saying anything. It’s not therapy. It’s not motivation. It’s online training that helps you realize that the best relationships aren’t the ones without challenges — they’re the ones with the best tools to handle them.

And yes, ideally, your partner will learn this too, and there’s a significant membership discount if you decide to learn and build these tools together. But it starts with you, and it starts for free, so you can try it first.

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

Get Started!

The first Resilience Academy course is free. Get started now, or become a member.