Captain Obsessive and the Reluctant First Mate
Is Amy okay with this?
About a couple years ago, my husband announced, “I’m taking up fishing.” No real lead up or talking aloud. Just an announcement. This was not surprising; my husband does a lot of inward processing before he verbalizes. As a wife I’m still learning the fine line between coaxing conversations and needless nagging.
It’s part of what makes us different. It might be gender related. Growing up, my mom gave my brother and me the choice of candy bars in the store. I decided quickly. I didn’t want to miss my chance at a treat. My brother, however, agonized over his choices, wanting to make the best one, often choosing at the last minute, when my mother’s patience and time had run out. In the same way, my husband cannot be rushed in his thought process. He must work it all out before he can share it. Sometimes, it creeps up in surprise (to me) decisions. As in the case of taking up fishing.
My husband also doesn’t do much of anything halfway. He’s taking up fishing. That means he needs a few poles, several dozen different lures, weights, bobbers, books, videos and oh…. a boat. He prefers to fish from a boat rather than from land. I like fishing too. But I use worms and cast my pole from the shore.
So - we got a boat.
The next hint I got was when visiting his parents in Seattle, he proffered this question, “Would you like to go on a cruise?” I was surprised. In previous conversations he had stated that he really didn’t want to go on a cruise again. He’d been on three. It was said in passing, but I still remembered the comment. But to answer his question I said, “Yes.”
So - we went on a cruise.
It was my very first cruise and first time out of the country. I had to get a passport and research the best ways to enjoy a cruise and avoid seasickness. We traveled to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. I’ve always wanted to travel and see different countries and experience different cultures. The only culture that you really experience on a cruise is the “Carnival” culture. I enjoyed my time on the boat, but really preferred our time on shore. Russ, my west coast California boy, was in his element: warm weather, blue saltwater, and moments of adventure.
That was only six months ago, but as soon as Russ got home, he was a man obsessed: with warm weather and blue saltwater. We talked about moving out of the country and relocating south. It was exciting to think about, and I really had very few reservations.
Russ is very comfortable in water, but I frankly, am not. I am a farm girl. I taught my young daughter to recognize the difference between beans and corn in the field when they are sprouting. I’m teaching my grandson the same thing. I check the weather religiously and want to know how much rain we’ve gotten. I get nostalgic listening to the farm report on the radio. Some of you get what I’m saying. I’m very connected to terra firma.
Russ and I talked about moving down south: what plans we’d need to make and how soon could we move. And here’s where my habit of giving him space to think let me down a little. I was making plans in my own head about living abroad and learning new skills. As I would still be living on land, it wasn’t that much of a change. Then a couple months later Russ said, “What about living on a boat?”
This was a few steps away from the previous discussions. This was a little scarier to me. “I don’t know if I’d like living on a boat full time.” I told him. I couldn’t promise I wouldn’t hate it, not matter how willing I was to try.
It’s hard as a wife and partner, to feel like you might disappoint your spouse. It’s the worst feeling in the world for me. More so than being angry. When your spouse is angry, you are the reason. You are at fault. (Most of the time, if you’re being honest) If you’ve disappointed your spouse, that’s worse. While this new thought was running around in both of our heads, I was uneasy about disappointing him.
So - we signed up for sailing lessons.
I’d never been sailing. I needed to find out if I liked it or not. Russ worked on his scuba certification. I tried the whole scuba thing on the cruise: Not for me! It's one of the very few things that completely freaks me out. Would sailing be the same way? Thank goodness it wasn’t. But then sailing on the Illinois River for a few hours at a time is not the best indicator that I’d like to be on a sailboat full time.
I had some real reservations about my commitment. And then the day came. Russ stood in our kitchen and asked, “So, are you serious about the boat? Because if you’re not, then tell me now and I'll forget the whole thing. But if you are, then I want to get serious about moving forward.” I was a little in shock. I hadn’t realized that he had gotten this serious this quickly.
One of Russ’ idiosyncrasies is that once he gets an idea in his head, and he’s committed to it, he becomes obsessive — studying, gathering equipment, practicing, reading, watching how to videos. Some of these ideas have a very short run. Sometimes an obsession will repeat, or the interest level of a specific project will spark a flurry of effort. He is single minded in the pursuit of a goal. In these instances, if I joined him or not is completely my choice, it doesn't matter.
This was different. It wasn’t a hobby or an interest; it was a lifestyle!
His obsessive, single-mindedness is one of the reasons why my husband became an addict. Those personality traits influenced many of his choices and his direction in life. Thankfully, God has replaced the focus of his pursuit. Russ is just as obsessive and single-minded about his pursuit of God as he once was of drugs and alcohol. Like David, he pursues God - “a man after God's own heart.” (Acts 13:22)
So to be honest, my decision in this process was made in faith more than any longing for the sea or need for adventure. Faith in my husband and faith in my God. In the end, there was no good reason to say no. Fear, doubt and worry, yes they are present. About the unknown. But our future is always unknown. There are too many tragedies, accidents, and choices to guarantee a look at our future. So, what is left? Trust. I trust in my husband. I know he doesn’t do things halfway; I know he will protect me no matter what. And I trust in God. Trust that He will protect me.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Despite my anxiety, I am stepping out in faith and trusting in the future. There is an opportunity of a lifetime waiting for me. So yes, Amy is okay with this.