I knew I shouldn’t have titled that post “A Successful Marriage”. Not that it’s not, but it still feels arrogant to me; life is a process of evolution, adaptation, and change, and labelling something as dynamic as a marriage as a success suggests that it is finished, completed, like an oil painting or a novel, rather than a work in progress.
Ask me on my deathbed if my marriage was a success.
Things are evolving for us very quickly right now, and it’s proving a real emotional challenge for me. After so many years together, we have seen our relationship change many times. Good times and bad, there were times we were apart, times of enmeshment, times we were close. But within the relationship what held us together was family; as a young couple it was a family of two, later it was a family of four and five. In the early years the glue was young love; later, it was the responsibility and challenge of raising kids.
All that is over. We are no longer young. We are no longer raising kids. We moved aboard Fainleog to transform our life to one of adventure and quest, following largely my dreams and my impetus. But over the 3.5 years we have lived this lifestyle, for the first time in our marriage separation is occurring. Perhaps separation isn’t the right word – individuation might be more accurate. What we are finding is that for the first time, significant differences are emerging between us. As we age, we learn more about ourselves, especially when external issues like children are no longer holding our attention.
When we moved aboard, we dreamed of sailing off to some place tropical to live like gypsies. What we didn’t count on was that Tracy wouldn’t be able to do that. I’ve found a wonderful, adventurous spirit long buried beneath domestic responsibilities, and Tracy has realised that she needs a lot of comfort and security. So I yearn for the sea and exploration, and she yearns for a stable home.
This is not insignificant stuff, in that we have discovered that we both need these things to be fully ourselves, and they are ultimately are not negotiable, at least not over the long term. Unfortunately, they seem somewhat at odds with each other.
Right now we are scratching our heads over this. It’s a completely new experience for us and we are not sure how we will navigate it. I believe that it means more distance between us, and more individual (rather than couple) choices. I expect that we will be doing more things apart from each other, which in itself presents a challenge, as I know Tracy hates it when I’m away for long stretches at a time.
But that’s the thing when you live authentic, dynamic lives – there are no guarantees. Our love and regard for each other remains the same, but love alone is never enough to make a fulfilling life. There are too many aspects of self that need attending to, and relying on a relationship for happiness will always fail. Primary love relationships are crucial, but insufficient. The challenge is how to nurture that component while promoting all the others.
We have listed Fainloeg with Vela yacht sales. I’m not sure where we are going after this, but I’ve suggested to Tracy that if our bus doesn’t sell we should convert it ourselves and go for a year-long trip through Mexico and Central America. That sounds like adventure all right, but without the things that terrorise Tracy so much, like waves and wind.
The idea sounds exciting to me, but anyone who is a sailor knows that it’s still insufficient: nothing in the world can compare with the experience of being on the ocean under a press of sail. I’ve spent my whole life searching for happiness and meaning, and I’ve been lucky enough to find what I was looking for. I’m going to lose part of it soon, but by god, I’ll be back.
This movie clip showcases what living life fully looks like for me.