Failure is not an option!

By Sam Clark

You may recall that line from the movie Apollo 13. In that movie the astronauts were not coming home without a huge effort from the crew back on Earth. The point of the statement was to make it clear that no matter what they were going to work on the issue until they found a solution. It didn’t have to be pretty or everything they might like, but it had to accomplish one purpose. It had to get the astronauts back home. Of course in the movie they all get home ok.

Well real life is not always that clean, but the attitude is worthwhile. If you enter into anything with an attitude of “I’ll try” you may win or you may not, but the odds are better than if you start with an attitude of “This won’t work”. We all know that a positive attitude makes the likelihood of success increase. What many of us may not know is that when you leave a backdoor, a mental “way out”, that it is much more likely that you will use that door. That is not to say that it assures failure, it just allows you the mental attitude that if the going gets tough there is a way out. Let me give another example. We have all seen a cornered cat. As long as the cat sees a way out they will be cautious but they won’t attack. Why is that? It’s because going thru you is way harder than going around. The chance of injury goes up. To go through puts the cat on the line for injury. You may be stronger or faster. In the end, when there is no other way, the cat goes the hard way. What usually happens, at least in my experience, is that they get away. They get the result they were looking for. That is what happens to people, too. When they get their back against a wall they find ways to a solution, ones they would not have found if they had an easy way out. Back to Apollo 13, they found an answer by staying up all night working very hard over many days.

We live in a society that wants its “backdoor”. Many people enter into marriage with the attitude of “if this does not work out I’ll just move on”. Statistics back this up as we have a nearly 50% divorce rate for first marriages and it goes up from there for 2nd, 3rd, etc.. Most of us by this point realize that that attitude will not produce a commitment to the work needed to have a successful marriage. If we don’t enter marriage with an attitude of “Failure is not an option” in the form of “Divorce is not an option” we are much more likely to use that back door when things get tough.

I do need to comment here that I’m not talking about every situation. There are extreme circumstances like domestic violence and addiction where you need to get out. If your spouse or significant other is beating you that’s not a time to say “I just need to work harder”. That’s time to get out. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Every marriage goes thru tough times. Your spouse won’t always agree with you. You will fight, see things differently, want to do different things, have separate friends and a hundred other things. In the end if you believe that your spouse might run or your spouse is insecure about your commitment the issues never truly get resolved, we use a backdoor. Perhaps we change the subject or start a fight about something else like the way the said what you discussing. In the end the real conversation is subverted, the backdoor is used. You probably won’t get a divorce the first time the backdoor is used. That usually takes time, but eventually the only door left is out. Like the cat with an escape route, you will take the easy road. The problem is the easy road rarely fixes the real issue, it sweeps it under the rug. Where it lurks and comes around again, this time bigger and angrier. Eventually the issue can overwhelm you. On the contrary, if you know that you have nowhere to go, eventually you face the issue head on. When you know your spouse isn’t leaving at the first sign of trouble you have the security to address the real issues that will actually improve your marriage. When you fight, and you will, you are not worried that they will leave so you have the ability to work for the right answers. The answers are not always pretty but they are the ones that both people can accept.

The attitude also forces you to think of your partner’s needs. If you have a backdoor you don’t need to consider them, it’s a “my way or the highway” situation. Your needs are always the only ones that really matter in the crunch. But when you know you are going to be with this person tomorrow and the day after and on, you know that making everyone happy is important. The people back on Earth could have told the guys on Apollo 13, sorry you’re in trouble, but you’ll figure it out, we have other things to do. Fortunately they were committed to them, because without the team they were not getting home. The same thing applies in a marriage. Sometime you have to go all in for your partner. All you are getting is no sleep. But in the end you are both better off.
So I encourage you to take the attitude, Failure is not an option. In the end you will find that rather than giving you problems, it actually solves them. Over time the big problems become small and the small problems become no problem at all. Why, because you have actually committed to each other and therefore have faced together head on the real issue and come thru the problem together. So like the cat with its back against the wall the two have run head on at the issue, scratching and clawing their way up and over leaving the issue bleeding behind them. You all know the cat is the one who wins when you back him in a corner. Be the cat together and you will see the difference.