True Love: The Cruise Ship That Can’t Stay Afloat?

The real Love Boat?

In the past, and particularly recently (with You Want Me To Emote About My Wife? Fine! Here It Is!), I’ve written about how in love I am with my wife Cat, and what a wonderful relationship we have and all that.

But just to be clear:  I fully comprehend that while love can be a many spendored thing, it’s prone to becoming a many splintered thing. (Get it? Didya catch the word play? That right there’s why I make the big bucks.) Love tends to fall apart. It’s inclined to lose its integrity. Love does splinter; it gets under your skin; it hurts and wounds you. At the very least it so irritates the living daylights out of you that finally you have to dig it out of yourself or let it become a festering infection that kills you.

Love pretends it’s real—but then can’t endure. It’s like a brand new, gleaming ocean liner on which you buy a ticket because with of all your heart you believe—because you know—that it’s going to take you on the dreamiest, most perfect, most wonderfully exotic cruise anyone has ever been on.

And then, once you’re out at sea, your own private Love Boat develops holes in its hull. And then it won’t steer like it should. And then you end up having to work in its stifling engine room just to keep the thing moving and afloat. Finally it’s nothing more than a leaking, listing mass of rusted, dented steel only a fool would ever climb aboard.

Right? And oftentimes by then you’ve been aboard the USS Daily Grind for so long that you’re kind of stuck on the thing. You’re too far out in the ocean to jump off and swim to any land. What are you, Flipper? You barely remember what land looks like. You wouldn’t know a palm tree from a snow globe.

You’re stuck, baby. It’s just you, boundless churning salt water, and the Captain A-ho ab who’s always stomping around on your upper deck, screaming orders that don’t make any sense.



So there’s a reality I could see us talking a bit about. Anyone interested?

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  • dudethatscrazy

    Love becomes "splintered" when you fail to maintain your boat right. Love is like every other thing we possess – it requires maintenance to continue opperating correctly. Love should not be veiwed upon as "workless." If you want that kind of relationship – get a cat.

  • Dude: Aw. It's sad that you've never actually owned a cat.


  • Gloria: Thank you. Perhaps we WILL go down this … clod-filled road.

  • dudethatscrazy

    Just for the sake of funny stories – the last cat I had would wake me up in the middle of the night stuck in the bread bag. He would eat his way into the "butt" of the bread and eat his self all the way in until he was a cat -cacoon. Happened several times. He would even break into my cabinets to find the bread. Idiot cat.

  • Chritsine

    Ok so just read the last two posts back to back. First let me say the one about Cat nearly reduced me to a smiling-crying wreck because I have never heard anyone get so poetic about their wife before….could almost see the goofy grin and bewildered expression on your face as you wrote about her loving you (which is funny cos I have never seen you… look something like a crazy santa claus/hobo on street corner hahahahahaha jokes). Second, this post is why I think I have never heard anyone talk about their wife that way. SO TRUE!!! you have this uncanny ability to write about my life without even knowing me…..obviously my life is not unique (and I thought I was special!! Thanks for killing it John :P).

    Keep writing Johnny, might not always be able to reply but still reading avidly

  • gloriabethrose

    Oh yes, please. Talk. I’m listening.

  • Greta Sheppard

    Love does get wrinkles …love gets the hiccups too…..we have to ask ourselves every so often: " What must it be like to be married to me? We aren't aware of our own shortcomings…just our partner's .

    Adam blamed Eve and she blamed the serpent… Stop casting the blame on each other and speak the truth in love….we ourselves are not perfect.

  • "Adam blamed Eve and she blamed the serpent"

    That brings up a good point: why were Adam and Eve not taking the rap? Who were they making their excuses to? Well, God of course. And I think John's excellent analogy not only applies to our human marriages but the marriage we are to enjoy with God (it's not me who makes THAT analogy, for some reason the Bible keeps doing so).

    So many of us have struggled with our earthbound marriages because we got married for romantic reasons – we were 'in love'. Then when the romance wears off and we look around and see that our love boat looks more like the "African Queen" than the "Christina" we become discouraged. We need to remind ourselves that we are more like Charlie Allnut and not Ari Onassis. And we need to be still more like Charlie Allnut, who with all his bad hygiene, alcoholism and other anti-social habits, stayed devoted to his old friend. He didn't see her is a leaky old bucket of bolts- he knew she was the African Queen and could still get the job done. She kept him afloat and she still shined in his eyes.

    The same thing seems to happen with many people of the Christian faith. We fall in love with God for romantic reasons; we are intoxicated by the power and majesty of God, often with a heart rending sense of gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice. We have been saved and it's all warm and rosy. We are 'in love' with God, maybe Jesus, but haven't learned how to LOVE God and let him love us, warts and all (which are all really still there). Some of us become frustrated and quit – "it's all a bogus bunch of crap". Others understand that we need to work at this marriage, but we forget that it's supposed to be like a marriage and turn into something more like a job – "God's the boss and we better do what he says because…(fill in the blank).

    But I think that the Bible tells us that God wants more out of a relationship with us than that. Just like in a strong marriage we need to be open and honest with our spouse, communicating what's in our hearts, both the good and often bad things we feel about each other. And we need to be quiet sometimes and listen to what the other one is telling us.

    Uh-oh. I just realized that I hogged your blog. Oops.

  • Of course, Charlie does end up ramming the African Queen into the German warship at the end, blowing both ships up. Maybe it's not such a great analogy.

  • Eva

    Yes! I'm interested!!!

  • I don't think the problem is Love at all. I think the problem is us! Why should Love be blamed, just because we too often can't tell the difference a derelict freighter and a luxury liner???

  • Oops! That should have read, "…the difference between a derelict freighter and a luxury liner???" (Perhaps I'll just blame it on my computer;-)

  • Don and I celebrated our 34th anniversary August 9th. I am not going to apologize for saying that I love him more today than I ever have. I know who he is and he knows who I am. Both of us know we are lucky to have each other. We have had friends whose marriages have shipwrecked, and we would never have predicted that would happen. But I have some theories. Paul said that marriage is like Jesus' relationship with the church……by church, I mean the family of believers. He gave himself to us…when we were at our worst….when his friends failed him….when people who had worshipped him cried, "CRUCIFY HIM" and "GIVE US BARRABAS!" when Peter denied knowing him.

    He saw beyond what people did and saw who they were. He didn't back off from his most intimate relationships, knowing he would soon die and leave them behind. His last words were, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." and "It is finished." meaning He lived His purpose…to save us….to glorify God. When I die and ultimately leave Don behind, or he dies and ultimately leave him behind, I want to have a sense that we have finished our journey together….and have glorified Him together. Having said that, I realize I could not have that purpose ALONE . I know Don has the same purpose. I am so lucky to have found a man who gives himself….warts and all….to both me and God. And I also belong to him and God…warts and all. And we both work on wart removal in both ourselves and each other…with Him. Love doesn't have to shipwreck and it doesn't end when one of us dies…..we just have to live in such a way until the very end, so that when "It is finished" we can find comfort in knowing we have loved…..for better and worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health…until death parts us.

  • I should have edited… should read…"when he dies and leaves ME behind."

  • Uh…okay, so I did sound self righteous in the previous blog. I should have just said that people give up on each other way too soon these days. If Don or I had not gotten past some rough spots in our marriage, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the fact that we really do love each other….warts and all. And we do have warts! One of my biggest regrets as a wife and mom is that we argued on our way to church a LOT when the kids were growing up about whose fault it was that we were running late! I wish we would have changed that scenario….just that “little” thing. Because it’s the little things that build or wreck a memory.

  • I meant “comment” not blog….I really HAVE to edit.

  • Well John–this was one of your best — the reality of relationship — nothing stays new forever — things change character. It’s interesting that we change the oil in our car every 3,000 miles, and paint the house from time to time, but don’t take the time to do preventive maintenance and take some R&R in our marriages, thinking them indestructible. I think True Love can stay afloat, but not without maintenance.

  • Hjordes

    I don’t know. I think maintenance is important, R&R, caring for the relationship, sure. But it seems to me that marriage is pretty simple. I mean, how hard is it to be nice? To love? To put their interests and wants at the center of your life? To find joy in the simplicity of their presence? It’s kind of a no-brainer. So why do we fail?

    Ricky’s comment about the derelict vs. luxury liner really caught me. I’m still wondering how many luxury liners there really are out there. I know there are a lot of frieghters with nice paint jobs and too much rust.

  • Great post! It sounds like you might be interested checking out our blog – <del datetime="2009-12-17T05:30:00+00:00"&gt ;</del> [this link is broken]. We're crowdsourcing relationship advice by letting readers decide who's right and wrong in our marital disagreements 🙂