We hail from a time when,
If something gets broke, ya fix it.
Ya don't just throw it away.
-- An Elderly Couple's Secret to Long Love
Sad news percolates through the grapevine; another couple, once very much in love, has grown apart and split the sheets.
Now, we don't think of these as failed partnerships, and shy away from the judgement implicit in the word. There are as many reasons why couples part as for coming together. Rather, it's a time to support friends who are most often hurting, and helping, where we can, to facilitate their transition from love to simple amity.
But there's a pretty common thread, running among these partings; often, the couple spent a great deal of their waking hours apart. Work and commute, domestic chores, hobbies and pastimes, social activities, social interactions, toob time... many of these are activities pursued separately. These take a toll on time and energy that might be invested in partnership. These run lovers along paths which can, and so often do diverge.
There are other possibilities.
Anke's about to head out to renew her passport – for about a week – while I stay at our winter care-taking gig. It occurs to me that, from 26 years, this will bring us up to total of one month apart. I hate it; she hates it. Gotta be done.
One of the most frequent questions we're asked about living aboard is, “Don't you need some time and space away from each other, now and then?” Answer, “Umm, no. Why?”
I suppose we do take time apart, in a sense.. We both like to read, and only sometimes in the same subjects. I write, she draws. She hits the hay earlier than I do, most days.
But this all takes place within reach of conversational tones. It's easy to share, and check in, and steal a kiss 'n' a hug. We're not walking in lockstep, but neither do we lose contact.
When we're home, we live close. Life onboard is ... well... intimate. The needful goes better with all hands, pulling together. The pleasures of the life are shared by all aboard. One is never further than voice can carry, and thoughts and laughter are easily shared.
When we work, we work together. Bad enough we have to work, now and then... but to work apart from each other?? Package deal or no deal. This can deliver a hit to our economic potential, of course. A job like care-taking pays the same, whether for one or two. Or working possibilities are limited to the overlap of our skills.
When we travel, we travel together. No separate vacations for us. Most of our travel is just moving around with the wind; travel without really leaving home. Travel overseas to see her family is an arduous and risky venture. If anything's gonna happen, we'll face it together.
If something gets broke, we fix it. We may fuss and we may fight, but it ain't like that all the time (line from Ruby Pearl by the Hackensaw Boys)! We work at this as hard as anybody, and with as much cause. We're not always fair or patient with one another, but we notice, and talk until we get there.
I'm not bragging here. These approaches won't work for everyone. This is a way that works for us, and we like it. I merely suspect they might avoid some of the growing apart that goes around.
That, and stay in touch with why you fell in love.
PS. What got me thinking about this was a task we've been tackling, together, these last few days. A generator is failing, and its 500lb replacement needs to be swapped in. This entails getting it out of storage, across a couple of separate docks, up a tidal ramp, across boardwalks and a gravelled path, through some woods and over stones and boulders, up two levels of powerhouse porches, through a narrow door and crowded machine room, then wire up its three phases and presto! I'll spare you the reverse trip for the old one.
The job entails chewing gum, baling wire and a whole lot of odds and ends. It's a little dangerous, and if we drop it, we've bought it. Alone it would be doable, but tedious. Together, it's doable, and yet another bonding experience, replete with laughter and copious opportunities for growth.
She is my 'buddy from work', and so much more.