6/29/2012 11:48 AM
My husband and I are novice sailors, and recently took a long weekend cruise further south than we'd ever sailed before. What started as a pleasant jaunt soon had us making nervous jokes about Gilligan's Island. This trip tested our knowledge of how to make a relationship work. A combination of uncooperative winds, unfamiliar waters, rough waves, a late start in the day and a gross underestimation of our travel time resulted in us being out in open water long after we'd planned to be safely anchored for the night. A cove recommended by a friend turned out to be completely blocked by a sandbar. The charts showed an anchorage off Egmont Key, but failed to mention randomly piled shoals around the channel waiting to ground out your boat. We found ourselves navigating three to five foot waves on a moonless night, surrounded by tankers and barges that would never notice if they ran us down.
As waves tossed our boat, I began to wonder whether we would suffer serious damage, or even have to call the Coast Guard for help. I donned a life vest and kept the handheld radio close while my husband tried to steer into the waves. Throughout the crisis, I did my absolute best to stay calm and collected. Thinking back on our little adventure, I can see a lot of pointers for how to make a relationship work well, even during rough times.
The saying "Calm waters do not make skilled sailors" is a cliche for a reason. Literal rough waters teach you the most about how to pilot a boat, and successfully navigating figurative ones teach you how to deal with crises in relationships. Some of what got us through:
- We didn't lay blame on each other for the situation. The only thing blame is good for is punishing your partner, which is just about the least productive thing you can do in a relationship crisis. Whether or not it's somebody's fault, the situation exists, and all there is to do is get through it.
- We managed to keep our sense of humor. My husband actually made a small joke that got us both giggling, despite the fact that I was nearly in tears because of worry over our safety.
- We adapted as plans fell through and options failed to pan out. The cove was inaccessible, so we headed for the anchorage. The anchorage was plagued by large waves that could capsize our boat, so we started heading for the bay. Each of us scanned the charts for safe places to moor, suggesting solutions to one another.
- We realized that, no matter what, we'd get through it. Part of navigating a crisis, whether on the sea or in a relationship, is knowing that, no matter what, you will find a way to cope.
Our perseverence got us through the rough waters. We discovered a calm cove northwest of the bridge, anchored, and crawled into the V-Berth together to catch some sleep and refresh our tattered nerves. In the morning, we woke to gently lapping waves on the hull instead of nightmare crashes. Navigating your relationship through a crisis intact can only make your commitment stronger. Keeping calm and remembering to take care of the one you love is a big part of how to make a relationship work.