How to Save Your Marriage

I’m sure I will have far more to say on this topic by the end of this trip than I do right now, but writing this blog post here and now is a marriage saving device. Thirty-two years of marriage have taught me that on days like today, I need to shut up and do the two things that men do best: lift stuff and get things that are up high. So, I’m writing this post between bouts of lifting and reaching so that I can stay out of Kath’s way while she tries to contain a year’s worth of clothes, pots, contact lenses, etc into a space smaller than our kitchen.

With the major boat works done, we are currently doing the work of making the boat our home for the next year. That involves a great deal of moving stuff about, organizing, reorganizing, taking stuff off the boat, etc. Over the years, I have learned that Kath and I have very different approaches to packing and that packing is a bit of a “trigger” item for me. I tend to want to pack as little as possible and as quickly as possible. A sweater, for example, can easily double as a pasta strainer. Let’s go! Kath, on the other hand, gets more satisfaction from a comprehensive list than she does from the world’s best butter tart. Her planning starts with the most detailed list possible.

Having raised two kids together, camped together and owned a cottage together, there were many a time when our very different approaches led to, umm, spirited debates, let’s say. We had one neighbour in particular who loved to watch the show. He’d sit grinning on his porch rocker, while Kath and I reviewed the merits of packing this or that item. The sidewalk would be lined with bags that were packed so tight, they looked like the spandex pants of airport security guards who had clearly started the job three sizes ago.

Space optimization in progress.

Over the years, we’ve learned to stretch ourselves towards the other’s packing style. We now consider packing more of an iterative process. And Kath’s girl scout skill of always being prepared has saved me in a zillion ways. I have often found myself saying, “you know what I really need now is [some obscure item or another]” only to have Kath disappear and return moments later with said item in hand.

Clothes for two people and four seasons need to fit here!

But even though I’ve learned to appreciate Kath’s thoroughness in abstract, I still wrestle with my baser instincts. I can feel my blood pressure rise with each muffin tin or bag of extra toothpaste tubes that come aboard. My impulse is to make it all to disappear immediately, damn the consequences. So, years of painful training have taught me that, at times like these, the best thing I can do is find something else to do for a while.


  1. Hi Thom,
    I had no idea what a good sense of humour you have. that will save your hide in any number of ways. Also Singing! Singing, like laughter, can get you through anything in the short term and if Kath likes the song and sings along with you (even if out of tune..then laughter will ensue and you will be, once again , sailing off into the glorious sunset…and remember the “one-Day-at-a time principle…keep to the same song for the whole day….leave tomorrow’s song for tomorrow…you will have enough to worry about without worrying about what song to sing tomorrow. This principle can be applied to every problem that comes up…it’s like magic…trust me.


    • Thanks Kathryn! There will be no shortage of singing. I do that daily! Unfortunately, I never know more than one verse of any given song, though, so that can get pretty tiring for anyone in earshot!


  2. One of the things we’ve done is to periodically take a look at what we have and see if we’ve actually used an item. If not, off of the boat it goes! And don’t forget, you can buy toothpaste anywhere. 🙂 Kimberly


  3. Way to go Thom and Kathy! Just watched your video on YouTube there. Keep them coming! Enjoy every minute of your guys tour! Happy sailing


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