Sail your own boat

Sail your own boat

One of the dearest people in my life spent the weekend with me in London. A different London: feeling the sleepiness of the pandemic, wearing masks on public transport, in and out of shops and only being able to sit outside some restaurants and cafes.


While sipping oat milk cappuccinos at Pret in Leicester Square, Emily mentioned the boat analogy when it came to partners.


I metaphorically looked around at the people I know and most of the women sail in their husband’s boats. This is something that I’ve struggled with regards many of my relationships, the reason most have ended. For some reason, men had wanted to possess me, own me, as though I needed to belong to them. “The Prized Possession.” Oh no, thank you. I am my own person and if you can’t accept the unique me then we can’t sail our boats alongside each other. I’d then set myself adrift.


Finally, my current partner and I encourage each other to sail our own yachts, alongside each other. We come from very different worlds, but from the same country and with a complementary outlook on life.


‘The problem is’, he said to me, ‘you have a battleship and I have a dingy.’ Very relieved we both laughed after such a statement.


Melissa Smith Baker, aptly expresses the analogy below…


Marriage is learning how to sail your own boat. Your partner has his/hers and you have yours. When I was going through my marriage crisis and desperately searching how to save my relationship, I had to throw away the marriage myth that my husband and I were in the same boat.

If your interpretation of your marriage is that you and your partner are sailing in the same boat, you will eventually feel your relationship is too constrained and suffocating. If one of you stands on the stern of the marriage boat and the other on the bow, you still won’t be able to stabilize your boat, because you’ll be in continual combat over which one of you will take charge of the helm.

Each partner has to step up to being the captain of her/his own boat. This is when my students inevitably ask: “Then where is the relationship if we’re each sailing separately, charting our own courses?” A relationship is the interplay between two interdependent boats. How to save a relationship is understanding this definition on an intellectual and visceral level.

There’s always a myriad of possibilities that you can choose to experience or not in your relationship, such as: Keeping in close contact as you ride out a squall. Blowing horns, guiding each other through the fog. Anchoring alongside each other to share cocktails, dinner, and sex, while never leaving your boats.

If you leave your boat, you’ll find yourself shouting, “Where am I in this relationship?” If you’re asking this question, you’ve jumped ship – which metaphorically speaking is yourself. You actually ARE your boat. You won’t know how to save your relationship if you don’t know how to captain and live in your own boat.

2 Replies to “Sail your own boat”

  1. Dear Cressida,

    Whilst I understand the analogy of the two boats you refer to at the start, why do you and your partner sail in yachts? It is as refreshing as a free dive in the salty Indian Ocean to know that you can still outrun, outthink and outclass all that sail close to the wind with you, with cutlass, cannon and cunning.

    Blow the wind, Southerly, one day, Cressida

    1. Dear Nelson,
      The analogy works well with anything one feels comfortable with.
      You could be sailing in a hobi cat or a SUP, anything that you relate to the most.

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