Monday, February 18, 2013

Where do you go when you fight?

You start here -- mutual adoration.

We occasionally have people visit. Some visit for the company.  Some visit to learn more about living aboard.  Some want to live aboard.  There are always the usual questions about cost, space, laundry, dishes, the head (how does your toilet work?), and so on.  Other cruisers get this all the time too.  This post was inspired by a similar question answered by these folks. One of the most consistent questions we get from couples is, "So if you are living in this small space, where do you go when you fight?"

"We don't."

"We don't," doesn't mean we that don't go anywhere to get away from each other when we fight. It's not that we haven't had challenging discussions, or that we don't tackle difficult thing or hurt feelings. It means that we don't fight.  We just don't.

The responses to that are varied but, they usually come down to either respect or disbelief.  The disbelief is reasonable.  I mean everyone fights, right?  Everyone gets angry with their spouse, argues, then needs some space to recover, before returning to each other.  That why homes have rooms.  That's why we have sexist jokes about men sleeping on the couch until she cools off.  People who see relationship conflicts as inevitable need that separate space for recover from anger or hurt,  in order to stop "fighting".

We have each had relationships in the past where that was the case.  It wasn't our other partner's fault for this.  We each participated in the belief and relationship model too; lack of communication, lack of honesty, lack of kindness and....fight.

That isn't the life we want.  Therefore it isn't the life we have.

We approach our relationship from a place of true mutual respect, accepting the regular human faults (all of them -- all), support each other in our own personal growth and, above all -- being kind to one another.

Our life plans include more than just inhabiting Brigadoon's 150 sq/ft of living space living on a dock in Seattle.   Sure, when we first started this we weren't necessarily looking for a blue water boat.  We committed to living aboard a boat for about five years.  That five years would be spent living a marina and coastal cruising life on the water.  With the purchase of Brigadoon (a true blue water capable boat), our possible horizons have broadened a little.  We have the potential to literally see the world on Brigadoon if we so choose.  It makes sense to ensure our relationship in good order before even contemplating going off to explore 140 million square miles that are the oceans on this little blue marble.

There is no way we could dream of attempting living aboard, much less exploring the world, if we were prone to fighting.  Where can you go when on middle of a 30 day pacific  passage between the Galapagos Islands and the Marquesas, overboard?

One of the followup questions we have to the "not fighting" thing is, "what about personal space?"

Well, our space is small and very personal, but we are not forced into each other's company.  If one of us wants a nap (usually Kerry), she can go into the berth and close the door and nap.  If she is reading a book on her Kindle in her happy corner, I can sit up in the pilot house, surfing the internet and watching the geese go by.  We are comfortable this way.  I am here, she is there, each doing our thing. Yet we are still together.  It's called being "Together Alone".

I think the key here to living in such a small space, is a consideration, a respect for each other.  It extends to giving each other space and time to dress (we pretty much take turns) when going out, to keeping our space neat and tidy, sharing the chores and keeping the place livable.  We plan burning down our debt.  We map out improvements to Brigadoon to make our home safer, stronger and more seaworthy.  We improve ourselves, our skills, and our teamwork whenever we can.  All this makes us better sailors, ready and able to possibly handle taking on the the sea.

Until then, we practice living always five steps from each other hardly out of each other's sight, each of us potentially underfoot of the other, in this floating home we call Brigadoon.