Dear reader, I know I write for the family section. However, I do believe when you are a couple you become a little family of two. Then, later on, you become a family of three or four, or even decide you want to continue as a family of two.
After we have known our partner for a while, we have overcome the thrill of passion and unconsciously stopped showing the best version of ourselves. We might stumble upon a picture of the earlier days, we looked young, happy, tanned, healthy and we think to ourselves: “What happened?”
One thing that I have noticed, which is common for almost all couples I have come across is that we all (yes, ALL of us) sometimes snap at our partner, make a mean comment, belittle them. We don’t mean to do it on purpose, we are just frustrated about something and throw it all on our partner. The partner we felt we couldn’t live and breath without a few years ago. The partner who was just perfect.
I spent my holidays in Algarve this summer. To keep it as exciting as possible (read: let’s not do the same thing everyday) my partner suggested we should try kayaking. I had decided to be as spontaneous and positive as possible, so I said: “Sure! Why not?”.
We arrived at 9am and waited with some other couples for instructions. They all seemed to be very friendly and chatty with each other. When our instructor arrived we were put in vests and then in our kayaks, so that each couple had a kayak. We were pushed into the sea and ordered to wait for our instructor. We paddled a bit and thought we would be given a 10 or 20 minute lesson. We did not. Our instructor, who didn’t have 4 of his front teeth, arrived at full speed and told us to follow him. So we went. Or at least we tried. Kayaking is hard work, specially when it takes two to coordinate and understand how it works.
I felt I was getting upset because I had always been good at sports during school, so why was it I couldn’t do this? All the others were doing fine! They were so much ahead of us! Was it my partners fault? Wasn’t he doing it right? Was I not communicating with him? What was wrong? I bet my partner felt the same thing. We could both feel the frustration in each others voices.
Then something weird happened. In one of the other kayaks, the girl started shouting at her boyfriend and he shouted back. She stopped paddling and he had to do all the work. When we finally passed by them, the guy looked at us and smiled, I asked if everything was okay, the girl answered straight away: “I hate sports!”, I tried to be as positive as possible and said: “At least you will have the whole afternoon to do what you want.”, but it didn’t work “No, because I will not enjoy it, I am tired now and I am going back home tomorrow.”.
It may sound odd, but this was an important lesson to me. I can choose to be positive or negative in any kind of situation. I wasn’t liking this kayaking thing, but at least I should try it for those two hours we had paid for. Thank you, angry girl who doesn’t like sports.
Ten minutes later we heard a big splash. A couple had fallen out of their kayak and their bag with her mobile in it too. She got back in their kayak very quickly, but he was swimming around to fetch their bag. He got it. She snatched it from him and starting yelling at him. We had reached halfway point and a boat arrived. If anyone were tired they could jump on the boat. She immediately accepted the offer and made sure he wouldn’t get on it too.
Once again, another aha moment for me. Thank you, angry lady with mobile phone. Here’s what we all can learn from her: when did we decide it was okay to speak like that to our better half? When did we decide “I am angry, so I can just take it out on him/her as I please”? As adults, shouldn’t we be able to be a bit more rational than that? I am not saying we all should be perfect, but it happens so often and it is so common to see couples, with our without kids, snapping at each other. Please stop! Imagine it was your friend’s partner who spoke like that to her. Wouldn’t you defend her?
On the kayak we decided to paddle the way back. We were the last to arrive, exhausted, but stronger, in urgent need for an ice cream and with a new story to tell our friends.