When I was a little girl, I loved birds. I had one as a pet and I loved the opportunity to save and hold one from the wild when they ran into the large windows of our home. One day, my sister and I saved the life of a beautiful little bird. I think it was blue and gray and other various colors. I badly wanted a natural looking photo of this bird sitting in our hands - so I tossed aside the usual routine of placing the bird on a nearby branch to recover, once it was calmed down and standing on it's own – and sent my sister inside for the camera. As we tried to stage the photos of this bird, it became apparent that it was losing strength. We tried to coax life back into the tiny creature, as guilt crept in and worry overcame us. I never looked at the photos we took.. Suddenly, what was so important became forever trivial, when we realized we'd turned from selfless caretakers, to someone who took the beauty and life of a bird as something to use for our own amusement - an act that led to the bird dying in our hands as tears ran down our cheeks. This was so uncharacteristic of us. We had been selfless and caring and had saved the lives of many birds, from the sparrow or robin, to a tiny hummingbird. But that day, we lost sight of who we were and what was to be gained by saving that life. That day, we learned a lesson we'd never forget. We cannot lose sight of the needs of others, just because we love them and want them to be with us.
My husband and I fly fish – or at least I used to go, before kids. Lets be honest.. I started fly-fishing because of him.. Because I loved him, and because he loved me and wanted me to love what he loved. It's a cycle. He'd probably call it the circle of life - because he's funny like that. He is a catch-and-release kind of guy. He loves the fish and appreciates the beauty in each one. He relishes the fight and the game in catching them – so he handles them with care in return. Usually the only thing he takes from them is a picture. Now that's not to say that he is against harvesting them. He's been asked for a few fish here and there, for someone's dinner, and he brought home a load of Salmon from Alaska – and it was delicious. On occasion he will take the life of a fish.. but he does not do this mindlessly. I've seen his hesitance when the time comes to kill it. I appreciate that he values their life.. that he's selective, and that he has concern and takes care to use the fish in a meal. But of the thousands of fish (yes I mean thousands) that he catches a year, almost all of them are set free. Because he loves them – he lets them go.
I've been given praise by many husbands for being so awesome as to let my husband fish as much as he does. I've been razzed by some wives who say I make them look bad. I've talked to some of them who are frustrated, bitter and angry for the time their husband spends away fishing - at times causing them to act in ways that are uncharacteristic of their true nature, and in some cases causing the light to go out in their husbands eyes as they gave up the sport to appease their wife.
I can tell you that I am not walked on or taken for granted, in order for Hyrum to go. There is a fine line between him being gone every weekend and many weekdays, and him always being by my side. This is a line that could be called the line of communication, if you will.. and that is key. Remember when the kind couple at your wedding told you that communication and compromise is important in a marriage? Did you just take it with a grain of salt while smiling and nodding your head, because you were filled with bliss and all of that could be something you worry about later? If you're normal, it was probably something like that – or you just simply couldn't conceive of the depth of which it truly matters in a relationship.. yet.
I will reveal that there were some times where we realized that this communication and compromise were desperately needed in our relationship – regarding his fly-fishing obsession. As this site eludes to, my husband is an addict – of fly-fishing, and this is no exaggeration. If he gives in to his addictions he could be fishing multiple days during the week and every weekend and he'd be on a fly-fishing trip at least once a month.. In fact, he's craved the river so deeply before, that it was about that serious. I was sending him on his way, with treats to share with the guys, and taking care of the kids while he was gone and out of cell range. If that sounds stressful – you're right, it was. Remember when I mentioned something about communication being the key? Yep. I needed to tell him that it was too much, he needed to listen and understand my position. He needed to tell me why he needed it and WE needed to come to a compromise.
There was a time period, where he just quit. He didn't go anymore AT ALL. He was around for everything.. dinners, homework, chores, lame T.V. watching etc. In some ways, I admit, I was happy – because I love him so much that I ALWAYS want him around. But I know what fly-fishing means to him and I knew it wasn't the answer either. Neither of us could have it our way, all the way, and be complete and happy as individuals or as a couple. In reality, I sent him out the door to fish all those times, with a smile on my face and in my heart – because I LOVE HIM and I want him to be happy! As he got out of control, so did I. I lost sight of my needs as I filled his – so he did too. But him giving up fishing would be exactly the same – losing sight of his needs.. and it is possible to hold onto someone so tightly, that the life will leave their eyes and you will also lose the parts you love in them. When it comes down to it, couples must communicate and compromise with each other to find the ways to make it work for them – as a couple. It is vital for each side of the relationship to be fulfilled in order for the couple to be happy as a whole.
I know ladies, that it might be difficult to understand his need for fishing. I understand the feeling that he's choosing that over you – and it might look that way to you, as it has to me before. But if you can get to the bottom of it, you might be able to understand it at some level. My husband and fly-fishing go hand in hand. I swear to you that he will be wheeled into a river in a wheel-chair as a feeble old man, if that's what it takes to keep him fishing up until the last minute of his life. We've seriously talked about how to fulfill this need for him, should he ever become incapacitated.. you might think I'm kidding, but I'm not. He needs it and he breathes it. Some people dream in color – he dreams in fishing. He's actually been upset for a day because I woke him from a fantastic fishing dream.. But I digress.. To him, fishing is therapy. His mind releases from all the stress of his job or the worries of the world when he's on the river. When he reels that fish in, all is right with the world, and he IS THE MAN in that moment. When he releases that fish into the water, he connects with nature and as he casts the line again, he starts anew. As he pulls on his waders and laces his boots, there is hope of things to come. With the water washing around his feet, and the sounds of the gurgling waters and the birds in the trees, he falls into the rhythm of life, as it should be, as it is, and as he hopes it can become. Right then, he's in the moment. When your husband is on the river, he's happy, he's confident, he's the man, and he's complete... except for that one thing.. someone to share it with. You. And he can't wait to come back home and tell you all about it and maybe even show you some pictures. Because he loves you, he may even want you to come along.. and that's not a bad idea either.
The river and the home are separate things to him. He's not choosing the river over you. Trust me, that if you give him the chance, he will tell you all about it and if you notice, there will be a blissful, peaceful smile on his face and a gleam in his eye. Try to understand that light and life that the river gives him – recognize that part of him is also part of what you love about him. As you open your mind to the reasons, it may be easier to understand that he breathes water and finds vitality on the river. It is a gift, when you let him have that little piece of happiness that those fishing moments provide - and he will return a happy man, ready to fulfill your needs.
Whether you relate to the bird, the fish, or the fly-fisherman in this, the message is the same.. if you love him, let him go.