Have you ever went canoeing with your spouse? Do you remember the anxiety? “Paddle on the LEFT, NO, THE OTHER LEFT!” an angry husband yells at his wife then mutters under his breath.
I will never forget a time when we went canoeing with Craig and Janine, our very dear friends. We were in Florida visiting them and decided to float in canoes for a few miles down a river that was very narrow and was occupied with alligators. It seemed like a wonderful idea at the time.
Off we went with our lunch packed along with little blankets to find a beautiful place of refuge along the way to engage in pleasant par-takings of delightful snacks and relaxation. We were all doing quite well until I heard Janine yell out, “Left, left, left!”, then I heard a scream of terror. Poor Craig had no choice but let the current take them under overhanging tree limbs which were full of spider nests. Like raindrops, bundles of spiders fell into their canoe.
Spiders crawling all over you while trying to navigate a canoe in alligator infested waters would be the opposite of pleasant or delightful thoughts. I must admit, for a few seconds I was laughing out-loud.
By the time we found a place to port for lunch, none of us were really in the mood I had anticipated. The pleasant feelings and delightful snacks were not really what was on our minds. All of us were a bit weary of the journey and were hoping the take-out point was around the next corner.
I have seen many couples canoeing together when things turned south quick and what seemed like a good idea at first ended up straining their relationship. I am a believer that whoever invented KAYAK’s, saved a lot of marriages. Think about it, you get to paddle however you want, you can go where you want, at the pace you want and neither are yelling instructions at the other. Can you say “FREEDOM?”
Pam and I both enjoy our kayaks and often find it very relaxing when we go together. Sometimes I will glance over at her in the kayak while her legs are dangling in the water with her head tilted back and eyes are closed while enjoying the sun rays warming her body. She has successfully escaped all of the worlds stresses in those brief moments. Putting us both in a canoe would be a very different picture.
I want to transition this into some practical tips for your relationships. Why does canoeing create such stress and where do we go wrong?
TIP ONE: BE PATIENT
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
Patience is a virtue to acquire. We are not normally born with it and must learn how to acquire it. Canoeing can bring out the worst in us but so can marriage. As we grow up in our faith, we must chase hard after this attribute. Make it your mission.
TIP TWO: AVOID STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
By the time you get married it’s most likely that you know what you like and don’t like in many arenas. Become a master negotiator with your spouse and try to avoid places that bring the worst out in you. Even though Pam and I didn’t have stresses over canoeing we both agreed that kayaks would be better. The was a great negotiation.
There are certain people that are very hard to be around. We negotiate together and come up with a good plan on how often, where and how long we will be with them.
The worst thing to do is ‘say nothing’ and find yourself in stressful situations with no way out. Communicate, negotiate and consider your partner’s wishes.
TIP THREE: SPEAK SOFTLY
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
This is an area I have really struggled in. When I get angry or frustrated I would raise my voice. That doesn’t seem all that horrible but it really can damper an event, a date or time spent with those you love.
It has become one of my life goals to be kind and calm, especially when I am frustrated. I want to let God be seen in me.
So, there you go.
Three tips that may help you be better at canoeing down the river of life.
Now go and be different.