Marriage is a topic I don’t feel quite worthy to talk on. As of Monday, Joel and I have only been married one short month. Most would say we’re still in the honeymoon phase. I can see it now. A well-seasoned married couple reading this thinking, “Oh sweet girl, you have no idea.” Trust me! I agree. But to every moment in life, there will always be someone more experienced and there will always be someone less experienced. So, this is simply my experience. Know that there’s no great insight here, just drawling lines because beautiful life parallels inspire me.
Co-captaining a boat, and a sailboat at that, teaches you a lot about teamwork. And working as a team is teaching us a lot about marriage. We are always working together, even when we are not working together. Like right now, for example, Joel is at the helm as I’m writing. There are times where it takes two of us to navigate. But in this moment, with moderate weather and a wide channel, we are able to do separate things. Yet, we are both still working as a team because we know what takes priority over everything. That is, to keep us and our boat safe and on course. And as Joel keeps his focus on the priority, so that I can do something else, I must both trust him and stay attentive to him. One, I am trusting him, his judgment, and his ability. And two, I am staying attuned to Joel, ready to respond when he needs me. Because, things can go bad fast on a sailboat and in the moment that he needs my assistance I have to be ready to jump up.
I believe Marriage is, in so many ways, like co-captaining a boat. We must keep our eyes on what matters. We have to trust one another. And, we must stay attuned to each other as we focus on the priority.
Even more so, we are learning to love each other through stressful situations. Not to say stressful situations don’t make us short with one another. But, in stressful situations on the boat, there is no time for bitterness. Our options are to either continue working as a team or allow for something to go very wrong [we run aground, we collide with other boaters, our dinghy breaks loose, the list could go on]. Co-captaining forces us to cover one another with grace (forgiveness; even undeserved forgiveness). Then, with each new stressful situation we grow in our ability to lovingly work through it.
Like today, something did go very wrong. Several things were happening all at once. I was navigating us out of a relatively narrow channel as Joel worked to re-adjust the tow lines on the dinghy. With channel markers, there’s a red marker on one side and a green on the other. Red is always to your left as you leave a port and to your right when you return (from which comes the saying, “Red, Right, Return”). As I navigated out, half paying attention to Joel and the dinghy, I let the distant red marker sway to our right. My subconscious said, “Red, Right, Return.” But the problem was, we weren’t returning. Within seconds, we stopped moving. We had run aground. Running aground in a sailboat could get you stuck. You have a nice big keel to wedge you right into the bottom. We've been having a lot of first lately. Yesterday was our first major head (toilet) disaster and now, this was our first time running aground. And, it was totally my fault.
Yet, in a moment that was filled with stress, we together assessed the situation. Although both our hearts were racing, we knew we had to keep calm and work to find a solution. Instead of turning to each other to seek blame (which I’ll be the first to say becomes almost instinctual in stressful situations), we had to turn to each other and say, “how do we fix this?” Joel quickly pulled back the throttle. We shifted our weight and turned the tiller hard to the port (left side: pulling the tiller left makes the boat turn right ). Joel put the boat back in gear and pushed the throttle forward. As I prayed she’d come loose (and that we wouldn’t have to call a fisherman to tow us) the boat slowly started moving again. Lucky for us, the bottom was soft and we were right on the edge of the channel. Crisis averted.
I’d have to say, especially being the one deserving of blame, that the situation was a perfect example of the beauty and power of grace in team work.
AND! While we are on the topic of marriage, our lovely wedding photographers sent us some more photos. So, i thought I'd share.