Sunday, 10 February 2013

a daily choice

Living a life afloat
It’s Raft-up time! Raft-up is a monthly event, where a handful of cruising bloggers discuss a specific topic from their own unique perspectives. I have enjoyed reading earlier topics and decided to join in the fun. This month’s topic revolves around “Relationships on Board.” 

Beautiful landscape
Some days, I could throw him overboard. Don’t get me wrong, I love him with my entire being, imperfections and all. But there are times when all is not well aboard Nyon. Sounds like real life? That’s because it is. Just like landlubbers, voyaging couples have their good and bad days. Rick and I are no exception. Having said that, I do believe there are some considerable differences in the challenges faced by couples who live on land and couples who choose to travel the world on a tiny boat. 

As a cruiser, you are choosing to live in a very small space, in unfamiliar and ever-changing surroundings. Not only that, but when you are voyaging aboard a sailboat, you sail the boat together, you maintain its systems together (a sometimes time-consuming endeavour), you have to find your way in strange lands while attempting to speak a new language, together. That adds up to a substantial amount of time spent with another person, in sometimes highly stressful situations. It is not uncommon to have to trust your significant other with your life. Also, you are surrounded by an ever-fluctuating social network that has no resemblance to the stable community a couple may enjoy in a more constant environment. So how do we make it work?

In our case, it helps that we like each other. It doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally fight or that we don't get enough of each other (obviously), but we really like each other. We enjoy each other’s company; we share similar interests, and we share like goals. Finally, we laugh a lot and we readily forgive one another. 

Dolphins playing 
In my experience, it is important to clarify for yourself what your needs and boundaries are. Not only that, but you want to be receptive to your partner’s wishes as well. I had to find a balance between taking responsibility for myself while recognizing that Rick may require something different.

For example, I need more alone time than Rick does. This often surprises our acquaintances, as I’m the gregarious, chatty one in the couple. I put a lot out there, and it turns out I have to balance that with a good dose of alone time. I often go exploring ashore on my own, or I ask Rick to give me a morning alone on the boat. Luckily, Rick gets it and gives me the space I need. The same has been true the other way around. We try and stay tuned into the other’s energy and know (most of the time) when to steer clear or reach out. Sometimes weather or circumstances force us both to stay aboard for extended periods of time – we can just as easily jump into lively discussions as read or putter without uttering a word to each other for hours.

Enjoying togetherness
We are both strong advocates for a “second car” – we have our dinghy and an inflatable kayak. Neither of us gets trapped ashore or on the boat, this allows for more independence – and we are both fond of our independence. And when buddy boating, we have learned to proclaim “date night” when we want to spend time together without getting impromptu visitors or being expected to join in on group activities. Date night is code for “Please leave us alone”.

We don’t have the perfect formula – like every couple, we struggle, we fight, we laugh and we love. A relationship is a lot of work, whether you live on land or at sea. It comes down to making a choice. Every day we choose each other. And every day we choose to live a life at sea. That’s all it takes. And that’s everything it takes.


For other perspectives on this topic, click on image below
and scroll down to the blogroll on the right:

4 comments:

  1. That was really nice to read. :)
    A couple of weeks ago l was thinking about people who live on the ocean, which made me think of you guys. You have to be so brave. It's very commendable, what your doing, together.
    ken

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    1. Thank you Ken! It takes a bit of brave, a touch of crazy, and a love of adventure - and a good partner in crime, of course! :)

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  2. "Just like landlubbers, voyaging couples have their good and bad days." I couldn't agree more! Love your take on relationships...I think mine is pretty similar.

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    1. Thank you Behan, it's all about finding a healthy balance isn't it... Loving reading your blog by the way... We're slowly but surely following in your wake!

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