A very well used quote which couldn’t have any better meaning then when on a boat where space is limited and tension runs high. Although it’s not just happy wife, happy husband too! We’ve seen too many couples break up after only a few weeks or months of cruising or shortly after a storm. There’s always many reasons leading to these unhappy events. Some of them may have been avoidable. I won’t pretend to be living the perfect relationship but after 13 years of sharing ups and downs of all sorts from land life, to backpacking to now sailing for over 4 years Cory and I have had our share of challenges. With every traumatic stressful event we overcome, our relationship grew stronger. Now, I couldn’t imagine a life without him. Our newest addition to our crew has introduced new challenges to our relationship, a little baby and second one to come. So I decided I would share a few of the things I’ve learned over the years to overcome couples’ problems or deal with them better.
An element in our relationship which makes us really strong is our friendship. We’re not only lovers but simply enjoy doing many activities alongside. Thus, before moving into a small space where you are constantly stepping on top of each other and living together 24 hours a day, make sure you have a few similar interests. If you haven’t been doing many activities together prior to this lifestyle change it might put a strain on the relationship. It can be anything from sightseeing to snorkeling, hiking, building sand castles, whatever you fancy. But DO things together, and it doesn’t have to be all of them. It also is nice to spend time out alone or with other cruisers.
This is the biggest one which we still struggle with at times. I keep too much to myself at times and that always bites me back. But we’ve gotten better over the years. Don’t wait until it is too late to mention what’s on your mind; your fears, expectations and the wonderful moments. Otherwise it quickly can lead to misunderstanding one another which can be fatal during high stress times. Also, remember that when there’s a storm or you’re docking we don’t always mean what we say. Just let it be and talk about it later, once everyone has had time to cool down or have a drink first. When you don’t share your feelings it builds up until it is sometimes too late. Talk about the plans, discuss where you want to go and what you want to do or see.
Debriefing is key and the timing of it is even more important. There’s not point of talking it out in the heat of the argument. You will most likely be both too closed off and not receptive to hear what the other has to say. You might even say things you will regret. Instead just bite your tongue, go with it and wait until later to bring it back up. Then tell one another how you felt during that event. Discuss how you could handle this situation better in the future and what both of you could have done differently. Be open and forgiving.
It isn’t always the case but very often the man is the sailor who convinces his wife to follow. Meaning that he is much more comfortable than the wife on the water. In our case we both were very new to it but Cory’s tolerance towards adrenaline is higher than mine. Remember to take baby steps and get yourself comfortable with smaller waves and less wind at first. Don’t throw yourself or your loved one into a scary situation too quickly. Pick the days you go sailing carefully and go for shorter sails at first. Otherwise, like many couples we’ve met, your spouse will get really scared and won’t want to join you anymore. The fear of the unknown is real so getting comfortable in easy conditions will slowly build that confidence. Before you know it you will be able to tackle any situation together.
ANCHORING & DOCKING
Probably the two most stressful things that you will be doing on a regular if not daily basis. So prepare yourself for them. Cory and I use to shout at each others while anchoring and it didn’t always end up well. We eventually came up with our hand signals which made the whole process much smoother and enjoyable. Same goes for docking. Also make sure to discuss thoroughly what you’re about to do, what each of you needs to do if it goes one way or another. In other words, the more prepared the more enjoyable it’ll be. And be patient, it did take us a few too many times before we worked out our own system and it isn’t always perfect either.
Don’t take each others for granted, even after so many years or with kids added to the relationship. Remember to tell each other how you feel, how much you love each other. Do a little something special for your loved one. And cherish the good times and this special life. Being two to share life is a wonderful and precious thing to really appreciate.
We love remembering the good times or laughing at how we both did during a storm which scared us. A relationship is something your nurture and constantly work on. It isn’t always easy but it is so rewarding in the end. These are a few things which we noticed worked for us and there’s always room for improvement. Hopefully you found a few tips to help you get sailing happily together.
Anne Alexandra Fortin
Cory and Alex share their adventure with weekly videos on their YouTube channel “Wildly Intrepid Sailing” and share stories on their website www.wildlyintrepid.com . Their dream is to travel the world and to live without any regrets.