The New Wifestyle Profile | Cari
hi friends! it’s been a minute since featuring some awesome women sharing insight into their marriage and how they are living the new wifestyle! i have cari sharing with us today and she has been married for more than 30 years! she shares how initially she had to be pretty assertive to gain that equal partnership but it was well worth it and their marriage is stronger because of it. they have had quite the adventures together, navigating the highs and lows. thank you for sharing with us today cari and glad you have both figured out how to paddle that canoe of life and marriage together!
cari corbet-owen is a clinical psychologist and health coach. her special interests are weight, body and helping people live longer and stronger lives.
“Paddling My Wifestyle Canoe”
I had a pretty serious 4 year relationship, but was coerced into meeting “this pharmacist friend of mine that is made for you” by a pesky friend. I didn’t like him initially but I hadn’t bargained on his persistence. We landed up marrying before the year was out and 30 years later I know I could never have found someone I’d rather negotiate life with.
I grew up knowing that marriage was something you didn’t just toss to one side when the going got rough. I also knew that my father’s needs took precedence. I wanted a lot of what my parents had but a more equal partnership. In the early years I often had to be really assertive about fore fronting my needs.
My wifestyle includes loads of mindfulness around the small and the ordinary, honoring my strengths and my independence. We do a lot together, but we do just as much apart. He runs daily, sometimes I go with on my bicycle. I build quirky places out of mud, he helps me with the roofs. We ski together for a few runs and then go off and do our own thing before meeting up again. We take turns choosing what to do for our joint vacations.
Our rule: if I do the choosing he has to do it willingly and with joy, and vice versa. I often vacation without him, and he without me – like the time I went to a natural building course in Hawaii or the time he travelled to Spain without me because I didn’t want to leave my fledgling business. We’ve both run our own businesses, made our own decisions, but jumped in to help the other when we needed to.
Our, do-it-together, do-it-apart style, has worked for us through crisis too. It’s been about allowing the canoe we’re negotiating the rapids in, to bump from one bank to the other without getting stuck on any one bank, taking turns to steer and paddle and sometimes both putting our oars into the water during very turbulent times.
Like the time we travelled around the world and had our ‘everything’ – and I do mean everything stolen. Initially it was my turn to paddle the raft and keep us on a sensible path, then it was his. Using our combined paddling skills, and working with the police, we retrieved everything (!) except for $50 and my running shoes.
Or the period we had multiple miscarriages and lost 5 children. It took daily paddling, bank bumping and turns at paddling and steering, for our raft to stay afloat, and emerge steadier and sturdier. When it came to picking up the puzzle pieces of my life and finding a new me, he stood by as I paddled my own canoe. I know that had my mother decided to cut off all hair, change her signature, throw out her business suits (not that she ever had any), high heels and makeup, my father would have had a fit. I forged a new identity that no longer included ‘mother,’ and he stood by without dipping his oars into my waters and supported me as I chose to go back to school to study.
Or the time we packed up our life on one continent (Africa), sold everything and left for another (America) with just bicycles, a computer and bag of clothes. We found an apartment together, then he stayed while I went backwards and forwards for months at a time to run my business over three years before fully moving myself.
We’ve flowed and paddled jointly and separately through the rapids whether it was when he had a brain hemorrhage, or was diagnosed with prostate cancer; or when I had a work crisis and near nervous breakdown. It’s been about keeping our canoe upright, sometimes getting out to portage around obstacles and mostly knowing when to dip our oars into each other’s waters.
Humor has often been our paddling tool, as has appreciation for small things. My wifestyle is one of actively noticing and appreciating the multiple small things he does that I hate to do. Things like filling up my car with gas, or fetching the mail, cleaning the grill or doing the housework (things neither his or my father never did). It’s like he’s paddled his canoe into waters he knows I don’t like and delivered me a personal love note.
He never tries to paddle my canoe and I don’t try to paddle his. But if I told him I wanted to take my canoe to the moon, he’d be there cheering me on.
What are the tactics you use that allow you to negotiate a relationship of mutual respect and allowing each other space and time?
What are the small tactics that keep your canoe afloat?