I've just returned from a vacation with my husband in Sweden. One morning I sipped a cup of coffee at the kitchen table in our rented apartment in Helsingborg, Sweden, looking directly across to Helsingør (Elsinore), Denmark. I was fascinated by the passenger ferries that glided across the water every 20 minutes or so, shuttling residents and tourists from one country to another.
I’ve taken the ferry twice from Sweden to Denmark, and back again. Once, I hopped off in Denmark and spent a pleasant afternoon meandering the cobblestoned streets of Helsingør. I was exposed to the fascinating history that explained why both countries were fierce opponents during medieval times. I recall my curiosity as I visited the cafes, peeked inside the various shops and listened to the mostly-Danish language. When I returned to Sweden later that day, I had a better appreciation for Denmark and an increased knowledge about the history of both countries.
The only other time I took that same ferry ride, I had a lengthy, pleasant dining experience on the boat, going back and forth between the two countries for an entire afternoon. But I never set foot onto the Danish shore, although I had at least two opportunities. Instead, I was preoccupied with the social scene inside the boat, only occasionally glancing at the beauty of Kronborg Castle –immortalized as Elsinore in Shakespeare's play Hamlet -- perched on a lonely island that we passed by.
This example shows how we make choices in life that are often short-sighted. Given the opportunity for a “do-over,” I would have made time for a richer experience in Denmark that day. I really had no idea when, or if, I would ever get back there.
All too often, the second type of ferry experience happens in relationships. Each partner moves in a hurried, independent fashion through daily life, preoccupied with his or her own desires. Sometimes one partner will wave to the other from afar, but neither takes the time to discover who the other partner truly is and revel in the special, deep joy each can bring to the relationship.
In short, by being like "two ships that pass in the night," the opportunity to experience a state of togetherness in the relationship is missed. Several celebrity relationships have foundered, like a sinking ship, and ultimately ended recently – mostly due to each partner's preoccupation with their own career.
Ask yourself: Are my partner and I like two ships passing in the night? If the answer is “yes,” why not make the decision to hop on the same ferry ride and experience the rich adventure of life together?