This post will probably be a bit painful for me to write because the thought of reliving the experience my husband and I had over the weekend even once more kind of makes me cringe. So listen up closely because I know I won’t ever want to tell this one again.
On Sunday The Man and I set off to have what we thought would be a great day outdoors. In honor of their birthdays we’d agreed to go kayaking with our friends Matt and Summer. Even though Man can’t swim we figured it would be pretty safe and fun for all. Plus, I thought it’d make a great addition to our 30 Great Summer Dates Series (which I’m admittedly a little behind on these days). Boy were we wrong!
We hit the water, all still well in the world, and within minutes we realized we had a major problem on our hands. As good as we are together most days, as it turns out we are lacking some serious tools in our teamwork toolbox. As Summer and Matt right-left paddled in unison on by us and down the river, we sat there spinning in circles and quickly growing frustrated and irate. Things went from okay to oh-shit in a matter of minutes.
Every time I tried to paddle, Man flipped out and told me to stop because it was my paddling causing us to get nowhere. Each time he lost it, I’d take a breath, then try to keep my cool while I let him simmer down some. Then I’d try my hand at joint paddling again, only to quickly be shut down by my now-fuming husband who was convinced my paddle skills were poor. Funny thing is, I didn’t say so but the whole time I’m thinking to myself that he’s the one who could have used one more paddling tutorial before we hopped in the kayak. It was hot out there and we kept spinning into creepy embankments, swatting dragon flies, and getting stuck on large protruding branches; making snide remarks the whole time as group after group passed us by.
Sick of arguing and getting nowhere (literally) I gave in to my better judgment and let my husband have his way. He paddled us on down the river and I sat back and sipped a soda. I wasn’t happy with the fact that we couldn’t work together as a team and Man felt that his way was the only way but it was better than arguing our way down the river. This plan worked out okay until we made it to the halfway point on the first leg of the trip. That’s when we realized in order to make it back to our car we’d have to paddle back upstream the way we’d come. (What the hell?! Damn those highly tempting and misleading Living Social deals.) This presented a huge problem. Moving upstream against the current would take a lot more effort and The Man was already pretty exhausted after doing all the paddling for the last hour or so. Plus, he still felt that my help would only hurt us. So he stubbornly began paddling back up the river and we slowly journey back the way we’d come.
We figured if it took us an hour to get down going with the current it would probably take us double that to get back at the pace we were moving and my husband was not pleased about that. I was so frustrated by this point because I knew I needed to help and I wanted to help. Just sitting there wasn’t any fun for me. But he snapped at me each time I snuck in a stroke or two and we started to spin even a little.
Things went from bad to worse when we started to notice it was getting pretty late and no one else was on the river with us. Summer and Matt had done their best to wait up but we were moving at a snail’s pace and we had insisted they enjoy their ride. We were alone, annoyed, and seriously about to rip each other’s heads off. It wasn’t pretty people! At one point I threatened to jump out and swim back with the catfish because I felt anything would be better than being stuck in that boat with my cranky and exhausted husband who cursed and moaned with every paddle.
The worst part was, by then I’d figured out the problem: We needed to paddle together going in the same direction at the same pace. Each time we tried to do so, my husband felt my pace was off and changed his to “rectify” the problem. By doing so, he was actually causing the problem. Where was the trust? I was sitting in front of him but out of the corner of my eye I saw him doing his own thing every chance he got. I tried to call him out on it so we could get it right already, but by then he wasn’t trying to hear anything I had to say. At this point we were both in hell and seemingly nowhere near the end of this hellish ordeal. We continued slowly on up the river in silence while my husband kept with the grunting and swearing and I sat there near tears. I kept thinking how sad it was that all we needed to do was work together and we couldn’t. I was so disappointed is us!
Then, something clicked. Don’t ask me how but somewhere in the home stretch we finally found our groove. I figured we’d been mad at each other long enough so I made a little joke about the whole thing. We compared our ordeal to scenes we’d seen in horror movies and joked about whether or not anyone from the staff would come to get us if we never showed back up. Then just like that we were ourselves again. We found a paddle rhythm we could both keep with together and made it back to point A without one of us throwing the other overboard.
Both of us vowed to never ever go kayaking again, but we did learn two very valuable lessons on that river. The first: Even when you’ve failed and you’re frustrated you must push past the bullshit and remember what you do have together. Then you must make that work. We failed miserably most of that ride, but we made it back with some excellent last minute teamwork – and it just took a few jokes to get us back there. The second: Just because you’re good together doesn’t mean you’ll be good at doing everything together. It’s okay, but you you should be aware of this. Manage your expectations people — it’s so key!
What have you gone through that’s tested your relationship? Did you come out of it okay?