Two summers ago Andy and I went on vacation to Hawaii with a couple of our friends. We had never been there before so we were really excited.
One of the days we were there we decided to rent kayaks. Neither of us are really water people, but we were in Hawaii and we both thought it would be fun to try, so we went for it.
It was relatively painless to get the kayak's in the water and start paddling. It was kind of fun too! As we paddled we developed a rhythm and I thought "We're doing it! We're totally in sync."
I was so excited that we were paddling as a team and working together. As we picked up speed and settled into a leisurely pace, we felt the wind through our hair and heard the rush of the water running past us.
About a mile out from the beach there was an island. We were determined to make it there. At this point, I could feel that we were starting to get tired and were running out of steam. But stopping before we'd made it to the island wasn't an option. When we pulled up on the beach we felt great. I had this feeling of accomplishment. The feeling that we had accomplished this together.
We spent some time on the island exploring and taking pictures before deciding to head back. At first, it was great. We were rested and ready to paddle again. However, after getting a ways out from the island we started to feel the exhaustion of paddling again. But we had felt that on the way out there and had managed to conquer it. There was no way that we couldn't conquer it on the way back. That's when everything suddenly all went wrong.
One of the paddles literally snapped in half. We both cursed and then sat there miserably for a few seconds. I could tell this had made Andy a little cross and in my mind I was panicking a little. I have a bad habit of assuming that tiny little problems are the end of the world.
So I was thinking about how this was going to put us both in bad moods for the rest of the day, eventually make us argue, ruin the rest of the vacation and ultimately lead in a breakup as soon as we got home from the vacation. But I still hadn't learned how great Andy is at handling problems and from past relationship experiences, these kind of things had led to really bad places.
While I was sitting there bobbing up and down in the water, imagining all worst case scenarios and trying not to cry, Andy picked up the broken ore and begin to paddle as best he could. It kind of took me off guard. But I picked up my ore and began to paddle with him. We took turns with the broken ore and Andy would paddle alone when I was too tired. It took a painfully long time, but we finally limped our way back to the mainland.
After pulling the kayak up on the beach, I looked at Andy in amazement. Sure we were tired and not in the best of moods, but it wasn't the end of the world as I had imagined. We hadn't started screaming at each other at all. We had just paddled and grumbled a little.
I had been so used to life's little problems leading to huge conflicts and long drawn out fights or silences, that the way Andy handled it completely surprised me. I thought, "Holy crap. This guy is a really good guy! And I'm dating him!"
It was a new experience for me and one that taught me a lot. There have been several instances since then where we've had small problems that we've been able to easily work through. All because of Andy's unselfish attitude toward life and our relationship.
Andy has taught me a lot about not sweating the small stuff, not placing blame on each other, and treating each other with love and respect.
It's amazing what you can accomplish when you've learned these things!