You have found your boat. You have learned all your knots and you know port from starboard. You have shopped for all your provisioning and you are ready to take the journey you have both dreamed about. But have you prepared the most crucial elements? Have you prepared the relationship? If you haven’t, you may end up cruising alone.
Being together almost 24 hours a day in a small space can test even the best of relationships. It can also create a bond that you never thought possible. Couples that are successful have developed certain skills that have helped them navigate through some of the unique challenges that come with cruising as a couple.
Here are seven essential skills that couples need to Sail into Happily Ever After.
Develop a Shared Vision: Sailing off into the sunset can mean something very different to each person. One person may be looking for the great adventure circumnavigating around the world and the other is envisioning sipping umbrella drinks at all the beach bars. When you and your partner are able to express your dreams, fears and goals there is no room for resentment and blame.
Appreciate the Differences: Differences come in the way we handle stress, the way we give and receive love and the way we see the world. Understanding and knowing our mate’s needs is crucial to peace and intimacy.
Have Compassion and Patience: Waiting for your spouse to move out of the companionway so that you can pass is just one of the minor inconveniences that requires patience while living aboard a vessel. Being aware that you are both “in the same boat” gives you the opportunity to show compassion and understanding when lack of comfort and space become frustrating to your partner.
Create Defined Roles: Working together becomes essential not only for harmony in the relationship but often for your own safety. Determine who is better or more comfortable with particular skills and be clear about the expectations in certain procedures such as docking and navigation. This can often eliminate last minute stress which can lead to the commonly feared yelling on board.
Take ownership: Playing the blame game with your partner will never yield the result you are looking for. You may be right, but will that endear your lover to you? View every conflict as an opportunity for personal growth and clearer understanding of the needs of your partner.
Trust: A captain once told me that the most important thing to have on board with you is a partner you can trust. It is important that you are BOTH knowledgable and capable should one of you have to take over and get the boat to port. This is the kind of bond and trust that landlubbers rarely experience.
Have Fun: Make sure that you have a great time TOGETHER. Be your spouses best friend and dearest confidante. Set up loving rituals such as sunset kisses or skinny dipping at sunrise. The couple that plays together stays together.