When “Stubborn” is a Good Thing


A couple years ago Mark and I were eating lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Awkwardly, we were seated right behind my high school music teacher and his wife.

(I say “awkwardly” because is there anything MORE awkward than being seated near someone you just barely know and/or haven’t seen in a long time? While trying to casually shove chips and salsa into your mouth? Avoiding eye contact while deciding if you should say hello or not? Nope. Nothing.)

Anyway, he stopped at our table on his way out and said hello. Because he’s a grown-up and apparently had no mental debate about whether to duck and run or not. He asked about my parents and brother (I come from a small town, remember?), and I said I’d heard he retired a few years earlier. Then – I don’t know if he asked or we offered – we mentioned having a four-year-old. I informed him that she was super smart and sweet but incredibly stubborn.

At that point my former teacher looked at Mark and said, “Well, since her mother is the most stubborn girl I’ve ever met, that does not surprise me!”

We laughed and said our [awkward] goodbyes. Then we finished our burritos and chips. But I couldn’t get that comment out of my head.

Me, stubborn? The MOST stubborn? Really? REALLY? That seemed a bit extreme. And not possibly accurate. I mean, yes, I would call myself determined. Strong. Motivated and ambitious (at least I used to be). Did I mention strong? Yes, I liked that one. But stubborn? Me?


Except, well, as it turns out…

Having a child is like holding a mirror up to my worst self. Everything that frustrates or irritates me about my darling daughter? Comes directly from her father or me – or both. And her strong will, her hardheadedness, her complete embodiment of the word STUBBORN? She got a double dose of that business.

Honestly, though, until we went through such a difficult time in our marriage two years ago, I never used the word stubborn to describe Mark or myself. Since then, it’s all I see. Every issue we have between us, every problem we’ve created, every hurdle we’ve had to jump – it all comes down to one or both of us being ridiculously stubborn. It comes down to us wanting our own way, only seeing our own perspectives, our own needs, our own opinions (which we become convinced are facts, because – remember? – STUBBORN).

We’re working on it. Both of us, day by day, counseling session by counseling session, late-night conversation by late-night conversation – we’re working on it. Understanding the problem, seeing what the real issue is has made a world of difference. Sometimes we can even laugh about it.


And sometimes being stubborn is a good thing.

Yesterday was our 15th anniversary. Fifteen years! Like I said on Instagram, it feels like yesterday – and a million years ago – all at the same time. But whether the time has flown or dragged, we wouldn’t have made it this far if we weren’t stubborn – determined to make this work, to love each other better today than the day before.

Marriage is hard. And marriage between two stubborn people? Between two stubborn people who married way too young? Yeah. It’s crazy hard. And while being stubborn is a big part of what makes our marriage hard, it’s also a huge part of what makes our marriage last.

Because we refuse to quit. We refuse to quit trying, to quit working, to quit loving. We refuse to give in or give up. We’re stubborn – and I’m glad.

We disagree on this (surprise!) but I believe wholeheartedly that Mark is the more stubborn of the two of us. But when my husband being stubborn looks like him reaching for my hand across the front seat of the car, turning up the radio and saying, “I love this song,” well, then, stubborn is a good thing. A really good thing.

The song is “I Hold On” by Dierks Bentley. {Click here to see the video, subscribers.} A few lyrics and my favorite verse:

Yeah, baby, looking at you right now, there ain’t never been no doubt
Without you I’d be nothing
So if you ever worry about me walking out
Yeah let me tell you something…
I hold on… I hold on…
Can you hear me baby? I hold on…

To the things, I believe in
My faith, your love, our freedom
To the things I can count on
To keep me going strong
Yeah I hold on, I hold on…

Yep. Sometimes stubborn is a good thing.

{Photo source}

17 Comments When “Stubborn” is a Good Thing

  1. Anna May 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Lovely thoughts. A few years ago, I was accused of being rigid (and stubborn, of course.) My mentor, God bless her, when told about this terrible slight, said… “Good.” It means I KNOW what I stand for, I won’t settle for any less, and I won’t put up with garbage people are trying to dump on me.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      I’m pretty sure I’ve been accused of being rigid, too. I think as long as we balance that conviction with grace, we’re in a good place!

  2. chelleybutton May 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I’m stubborn too. Ridiculously so. But also fiercely loyal. Perhaps those two things are very closely related? Like they share the same core, like Harry’s and Voldy’s wands. ;) I always think, it takes a lot to move me. I often wish this weren’t so, but I suppose that’s an aspect of faith too, so that’s one good thing about it. :) Mr. Darcy used to ask me what motivates me, and I didn’t really know. I had some ideas. But a student’s mom said right away “conviction.” I liked that. :)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      Oooh, yeah, I like that, too!

  3. Lina May 30, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Mary,

    I love this post and I really do get it! I have been with the same man going on 22 years now and he is the most stubborn person on the planet AND the most devoted in an odd little way. He also has bi-polar disorder so our years together with my own baggage have been a huge learning experience. I also had two kids in tow when we met! I do believe that conviction and stubbornness come from the same place! So that really IS the good news. =)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 1, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Lina, it sounds like your relationship would not have worked WITHOUT some stubborn-ness in the very best way!

  4. Shelly W. May 30, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Aw, I love this. I’m stubborn too, and so is my husband. I see a lot of us in what you describe–just being stubborn enough to make this work. We’re celebrating 29 years on Sunday. :)

    Want to know what’s more awkward that seeing a former teacher with his wife and actually talking to him? Seeing a former teacher at the restaurant where you’re waitressing who was having an obviously romantic dinner with someone who was NOT her husband. :(

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Oh my gosh, Shelly, that is WAY worse! Crazy awkward!!!

  5. Renee Swope May 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Congratulations on 15 years of stubborn love!! Surely “stubborn” has many great benefits! It produces perseverance, tenacity, creative overcoming-obstacles skills. Not that I would know personally or anything. :) And well… I bet some of the most successful people we know are stubborn. And you are now in their league. Officially!

  6. Renee Swope May 30, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Congratulations on 15 years of stubborn love Mary and Mark!! Surely “stubborn” has many great benefits – perseverance, tenacity, overcoming-obstacle skills. Not that I would know personally or anything. :) And well… I bet some of the most successful people we know are stubborn. And you are now in their league. Officially!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 1, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Thanks, Renee! I guess it all goes back to the wisdom of Spiderman and using our powers (or stubborn natures) for good and not evil… :)

  7. Amy C June 5, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    I can relate to this post! I think that stubbornness is a gift more often than not, and it sounds like you two have the communication in place to manage it just fine – not that this makes it easy! The more we hear our own struggles echoed in the words of others the more we can keep things in perspective so our responses are fair and measured. So glad you shared this.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect June 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks, Amy. I can say that at least we’re working on getting our communication right. ;)

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