Husband, wife and the floating mistress

There came a point in our yachting relationship when it was time to seek out the white picket fence. And although I’ve never considered myself much of a ‘nester’, I was happy to find some sort of new normal in an industry that seems to do its level best to separate people who love each other.

But in this game, I should have known to expect a marriage far from your average nine-to-five, round-the-corner romance.

In yachting, it’s a clash of the countries as you try desperately to find some sort of middle ground, a place for your relationship to set down its roots and grow. It’s the first big question that yachting couples will face when they decide to nest: where are we going to live? And then, how are we going to do it?

It’s not the same kind of dreamy decision-making of your early 20’s when you throw a dart at the world map, pack your bags and go! There’s more at stake here, more to consider. This time, there’s someone else to think about; there’s your dreams and his; there’s a marriage holding you accountable.

There’s the fact that he loves what he does and he makes great money doing it. There’s the fact that he doesn’t really know what else he’d do for a living and that life at home can get a bit boring at times… a bit ‘Tuesday morning’ as my friend Esther calls it.

It’s not the same kind of dreamy decision-making of your early 20’s when you throw a dart at the world map, pack your bags and go!

No matter how simple your relationship, logistically it gets knotted up, especially when one is from the north, the other is from the south, and both are serving in an industry that has no home.

One can appreciate how quickly this all gets complicated.

For us, France became middle ground. It ticked all the right boxes: we would be based near the largest private yacht marina in Europe, it’s a country we love, an industry we know and a life we see ourselves building. We waited for the ‘right yachting job’, and I started my business. The cards seemed to fall neatly into place.

But our French honeymoon had started to fade. The reality began to sink in: hubby is going to be away. A lot. And with that, a wave of emotions: the loneliness, the waiting, the missing, the emptiness, the stark frustration at it all. I often wonder how other relationships experience it. Somehow, I get the impression that we don’t really talk about marriage in yachting, families in yachting, kids in yachting. There’s a lot of ego to fight through before you get to the real meat and bones of yachting relationships.

One is from the north, the other is from the south, and both are serving in an industry that has no home.

At first, I tried desperately to change it, to fight against it. But that didn’t work — neither for him, nor me. And eventually, I started to accept it, as day-by-day, week-by-week, everyday life simply has to carry on, often without my better half.

You’ve got me at a bad time, mid-summer when he hasn’t been home for weeks. It wears you down. Catch me in the winter, and I’ll probably be more graceful about it, more appreciative for the amazing opportunities that yachting gives us as a couple, more able to trust that my man sees the bigger picture, that he’s preparing for our future.

In some ways, you have to learn that making a life together also means making a life apart, and that true happiness should always come from within. Maybe that’s something all relationships need to learn. Either way, it’s a choice you make when you marry a man of the sea, and a choice that many will hold over you when you dare express how difficult long distance marriage can be.

Avignon, January 2016It’s often amazed me how little support and true understanding there is for women in these shoes. There seems to be a constant, underlying message that we’ve made that choice, so we should live with it; that his career is the priority because he’s the one making the money, or that dinner can’t be all that bad on your own.

When you have so much to be grateful for, it’s difficult to explain that some days, long distance simply sucks. That you miss him, that you love him and that you can’t wait for him to come home again.

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