Friday, September 5, 2014

Learning How To Fight - Random Thoughts At The One Year Mark

This is a time for reflection.  We are rapidly closing the loop on our first Cruising year.  It hasn't been a conscious thing, this comparing of then to now...  My mind has just begun to whirl around and we're realizing that so LITTLE of how we thought it would be, has actually turned out to be true!

Thankfully I was right about one thing.  We STILL enjoy being together 24/7.  I keep remembering a conversation with a co-worker in which she marveled that I would wish to be with my husband ALL. THE. TIME.  I remember my answer to her...  And most of that is still true today... only now, we're learning how to fight.

We still don't fight in the normal sense of the word... like yelling at each other and throwing sandwiches...  Our "fights" are still more like heated disagreements although we have come VERY close to raised voices a time or two.  We've still managed to keep things mostly civil, and our less-than-civil conversations are few and far between... most of the time.  But we can always tell when something is brewing...

We don't really have the normal things to fight about that couples do.  We aren't trying to raise small children together, we don't have money problems, neither of us is a lazy-good-for-nothing-lout... and although according to any man, there is no such thing as enough sex... well, we won't go into that here, er, um where was I... Oh yes...

The stresses of cruising are teaching us how to fight.  Understanding the stresses that are affecting the other, and how each of us deals with and reacts to them has been a true learning experience.  It starts with one or the other of us just being a little bit "snippy".  Un-pleaseable, impatient... grumpy!  Usually this means "I need a little space".  No problem, lets just take a little quiet time... I go to our room and read, Bruce does his exercises in the saloon or maybe goes and sits in the cockpit for a while.  But it's brewing...

Then Little Bickers erupt about stupid stuff... "Why can't you just close the microwave door instead of telling me that I left it open... AGAIN!"  - "For the same reason you tell me that I left the solenoid for the stove on AGAIN instead of just flipping the switch yourself!" kind of stupid stuff... This may continue on for some time until we both  begin to feel some building resentment.

Then, being adults... we remember that communication is key.  We wait until we've had time to cool off and are both mentally in a "better place", and we talk it over.  We analyze it.  Why are we having these idiotic conversations???  What we've realized is that we deal with stress in different ways and the underlying stresses are not always evident to the other.  Usually the stress that caused the argument has nothing to do with the actual thing we argued about!

Bruce feels an enormous weight of responsibility for keeping the boat in good working order.  Just the routine maintenance alone is a grueling task, and when the added duties of troubleshooting and repairs pile up, he becomes more tense and less patient than usual.  While I can't SEE these pressures... they are weighing upon him almost constantly and can come to the surface at random times.  It's times like this that Bruce feels that I take his contribution for granted a little too much...

My stresses stem from the responsibility of planning our course and making sure that we are well provisioned and watered.  There are SO many things to take into consideration for getting us happily and flawlessly from here to there:  tides, currents, weather, where are the trouble spots, where will we get groceries, water, fuel?  These things fall on my shoulders because I am the one who CARES about them.  Bruce could happily just take off and somehow, probably get to where he's going (or maybe somewhere else) without dying... But I want to get to where we're going in relative comfort, leaving little to chance.  It's times like these that I feel like Bruce takes my contribution for granted a little too much...

We have realized that these stresses do exist and are very real to each of us.  We have learned to value these things even if we don't fully agree with or understand them.  We've learned to communicate and express our frustrations and to give the other space to come to terms with our issues.  

The fact that Bruce has actually begun to step up to these conversations is, to me, a sign of growth.  He used to just clam up when we disagreed, thinking that if we argued, it meant that we didn't love one another.  I've actually had to coax him into stating his case, so that I have an opportunity to understand where he's coming from.  This is a HUGE improvement in our ability to communicate.  And it ALWAYS ends in a better understanding on both sides.  We are amazed sometimes at just how far apart we are in our thinking .

It baffles me that he doesn't know the difference between a boat rag and a dish rag.  And it baffles him that there even IS a difference... and that I CARE!  Clearly I am the one with the hangups here, and I grant you that.  He is a saint for putting up with it... still.  It is a daily wonder to me that he hasn't killed me yet.  In fact, back in the beginning of our relationship, we used to think that we were SO much alike.  Now, we can scarcely believe how very DIFFERENT we really are from one another and still manage be happily married.  Yes, opposites truly DO irritate the crap out of one another attract.  We talked about this while floating in the pool the other day.  

We both feel like we've come a long way in our communication skills.  We still have some work to do, but what good is having all of this 24/7 togetherness time if we're not using some of it for a little marital growth?  Happily, we always come back together in the middle and feel like we've achieved something positive in the end.  

Are we getting sick of our own company?  Definitely NOT!!  In fact, we often pass on the opportunity to go and socialize with other people we meet, in favor of just hanging out...Together...Forever...Still!  

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