I can't tell you how many devotionals, chapters, and blurgs I have read on the topic of co-habitation. You know what they always talk about? Damp towels. Yes, it's true. The struggle is always over those damp towels that one spouse leaves on the floor or bed. The damp towel struggle is old news. I have a new one!
Sea Kayaks. If our book gets picked up by a publisher one of the chapter titles will be, " I Want My Own Damn Sea Kayak."
The story: Jake and I are on vacation last year in the Dominican Republic. We are relaxed, having fun, and on our best behavior. We are kind to one another, laughing, respectful, just plain in love and being nice. Wonderful. Enter: the tandem sea kayak. Nemesis of marital bliss.
I (Melissa) grew up pretty much on the water. I swam like a fish and my grandfather taught me everything there was to know about canoeing and kayaking and generally handling a boat of the self-propulsion sort. I know how to kayak. And I know how to steer.
Jake....not so much. But he thinks he does! Delusional...but determined. So we got into the dual sea kayak blissful and excited to try out a new water sport together. We lasted about ten minutes. I let Jake be in the back and try to steer. Didn't work out so well. Then we tried me yelling orders to paddle to the left or right depending on the currents...didn't work out so well. Then we tried "enjoying the ocean" by neither one of us paddling and just lying back and getting a sunburn. Two minutes or so that lasted. So we tried paddling again. Both of us going opposite ways...both of us convinced we knew the right way to steer. I ended up yelling in the middle of all the other cute happy couples..."I Want My Own Damn Sea Kayak!!!"
It's a funny story really. We laugh about it all the time. It serves as an example to Jake and I about the changes of living together. We thought it would be easy...I mean we spent college conjoined at the hip. Seriously...it was kinda annoying to everyone else. Sickening really. But we thought, "Living together...no problem...we are SO alike!" The first year it really was not so bad at all. Maybe we argued about toothpaste caps?! But that was really about it.
It was after a year that we realized...the sea kayak says it all. When two people get married they will "live" differently. They are two unique people with different pasts and different ways of doing things. One will think, " You steer the sea kayak this way." The other will think, "No, I have been taught to steer the kayak this way and I know it is right."
This principle rings true for so many things. Money. Friends. Communication. Budgets. Kids. Chores. Down Time (Fun Things), Family, Traditions, Jobs...the list is endless.
It's not just damp towels ya'll....it's what the damp towels and sea kayaks represent. They represent two people sharing a space and a life. The way two people live will clash at some points and work wonderfully well at others (Jake and I don't do sea kayaks so well, but budgets...man we work great together!!).
The thing we have learned so far is to acknowledge that sometimes you need individual sea kayaks. It's just better for your marriage. And sometimes you both have to pick up each other's damp towels. And sometimes you have to let him play video games. And sometimes you have to be flexible on the budget. And sometimes you have to compromise on how to raise the kids or spend holidays with family. It's all about working together....to realize when to acknowledge differences and when to compromise. The sea kayaks have taught me much.