Marriage is learning how to sail your own boat. Your partner has his/hers and you have yours. When I was going through my marriage crisis and desperately searching how to save my relationship, I had to throw away the marriage myth that my husband and I were in the same boat.
If your interpretation of your marriage is that you and your partner are sailing in the same boat, you will eventually feel your relationship is too constrained and suffocating. If one of you stands on the stern of the marriage boat and the other on the bow, you still won’t be able to stabilize your boat, because you’ll be in continual combat over which one of you will take charge of the helm.
Each partner has to step up to being the captain of her/his own boat. This is when my students inevitably ask: “Then where is the relationship if we’re each sailing separately, charting our own courses?” A relationship is the interplay between two interdependent boats. How to save a relationship is understanding this definition on an intellectual and visceral level.
There’s always a myriad of possibilities that you can choose to experience or not in your relationship, such as: Keeping in close contact as you ride out a squall. Blowing horns, guiding each other through the fog. Anchoring alongside each other to share cocktails, dinner, and sex, while never leaving your boats.
If you leave your boat, you’ll find yourself shouting, “Where am I in this relationship?” If you’re asking this question, you’ve jumped ship – which metaphorically speaking is yourself. You actually ARE your boat. You won’t know how to save your relationship if you don’t know how to captain and live in your own boat.
Instead of sailboats, some of my students prefer freighters, luxury liners, yachts, motorcycles, hiking paths, bikes, race cars, trains, even fire engines. Use what resonates with you. You and your partner do not have to pick the same metaphor. Start imprinting this image in your mind. When your relationship gets out of balance — too close or too far apart — if you remember to think of this metaphor in your mind’s eye, it will automatically help you find solutions to your marital issues.
What metaphor works for you? Nothing is too mundane or too far-fetched.