Diary: Are Fish Partners Too Independent?

Are We Too Independent?

It’s four forty-five on a Wednesday morning, the usual time Chris kisses me goodbye. I wake as he looms over me, raising my head to plant a big one on his lips as his stubble pricks my chin. 

“It’s too windy today, so we’re not fishing,” he said. “I’m going back to sleep, then heading to the trap yard later.”

I groggily roll over to pass out again, but the day ahead creeps into my mind, and I panic a little.

You see, my to-do list changes depending on when Chris heads out. You could say it changes with the weather, as the life of a commercial fishing couple tends to do. So, I’ve learned to schedule major projects and deadlines when I’ll have the house to myself and can rely on the peace and quiet.

(If you’re familiar with the creative process, you know it’s as fleeting as an orgasm and that the slightest interruption can throw you off course. Getting started takes immense effort and even more to stay focused.)

Fast forward three hours later, after a rescheduled yoga and two-mile walk, I’m white-knuckling the counter while Chris prepares his second cup of pour-over coffee at glacial speed. 

Instead of screaming, “are you fucking kidding me” when he decides to make a turkey sandwich, I keep my hands busy by screwing on the mayo lid, locking the top of the Dijon, and stacking dirty plates and silverware in the sink. 

I have a thing where I like to start the morning off with a clean house. Have I mentioned that I have controlling personality traits and am about to start my period? 

“Hey, I still need the cheese,” Chris said. 

I rip open the ziplock bag and pull out two slices before sealing it again.

“What’s the deal, Love? Do you want me to leave or something?”

Amused by the whole thing, Chris begins to wash his plate in the sink.

“Maybe you’re getting a little too independent,” he jokes.

But that’s the thing.

Because partners of commercial fishermen are *required* to be independent, I wondered if people on the far end of the spectrum (like me) get too comfortable? It’s ironic to think we pray for our fisherman to come home alive one day, then count down until they leave the next.

(Or, it could be the opposite where you don’t like alone time, and the goodbyes are soul-crushing.)

Either way, a delicate balance of independence within a strong relationship makes fishing couples great partners. It’s the fine line of requiring alone time but not wanting it that much. 

What is it like for you? Do you have challenges with independence or codependence? Please share in the comments below!

If you liked this, you’d love the last Diary: Transitioning to the Off-Season.

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  1. Are we too independent ? I sure am. But I’ve been in this fishing marriage thing for almost 38 years.
    It takes a team to make this fishing life work, but at the same time we wives have to build our own lives.
    None of my closest friends know anything about fishing, nor do my siblings. They just don’t understand the boat comes first and she is the “other woman” in our marriage.

    As he’s getting ready for salmon season down here-the AK seasons are behind us-I’m itching for him to go as he’s already getting in his preseason mood. This year though, I fell and broke my hip in the locker room at the pool and he’s doing my work as well as getting the boat ready. He’s stressed.

    And he tells me all the time that he’s glad I’m independent. 🙂

    PS I write for NF also when I have time. I’m trying to figure out how to spin the broken hip thing into a story. I’m thinking- “When the Old Man of the Sea has a Sudden Career Change.”

    • Hi, Lori, fellow NF writer! So lovely to connect with you, and thanks for sharing your honest opinion! First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about your fall, and I hope you’re recovering well. How scary! And yes, I feel just like you. Though loving and very supportive, my family and friends find the lifestyle hard to grasp sometimes. Mainly the vague answers and time frames during and after the seasons (all damn year). Your note about the boat being the “other woman” singes me in a jealous way that only inanimate objects can do. I remember Chris finishing his nesting dingy when we first started dating. How he talked about “her,” I was like, Who is this bitch?! Haha! On top of that, she launched on my birthday. Go figured. I guess that was my first understanding that there would be other “women” in our lives. Wow, only conversations that partners of commercial fishermen can understand. 🙂 P.S. PLEASE WRITE THAT STORY!!! That title is fantastic, and I want to read it ASAP!