Gretchen Schauffler

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Consider This Marriage Proposal Instead

Consider This Marriage Proposal Instead

Gretchen Schauffler Devine Color
Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship—Omar N. Bradley

Imagine being in charge of a ship with someone and heading out to sea (indefinitely) to face uncertainty for decades to come. The only thing that would make the journey safe and worthwhile is the certainty you would have in each other, as a team or as Captain and First Mate. Now imagine this being your criteria for choosing a spouse.

A couple of months prior to my husband and I getting married we began to decorate what would become our family home for the next 6 years. The home had a very contemporary feel. The living room-dining room was open floor plan. The back wall was lined with 14-foot windows trimmed in clear cedar, facing a luscious garden. A fireplace divided the open space. There was only one expansive wall to feature art and it became our first priority. Whatever we bought had to feel right and be the right size. This would set the tone for the entire space. We thought it was going to take forever. It didn’t!

Wouldn’t you know it? We found it right away—like all things that are meant to be.

The minute my husband and I both saw the oversized black and white print of a sailboat, rushing across the ocean in the wind, we knew it was more than perfect. It captured how we felt about our marriage. This was a second marriage for both of us. It was as if we were getting on a sailboat and heading out to sea with a 4-child crew on board, two boys and two girls under the age of 14. We were both uncertain of what life would bring but confident in each other. We set sail and never looked back. Six years later we bought another home, by a lake, built in 1961. Wouldn’t you know it? The home itself looks like a ship. Facing the lake were three real-life portholes as windows.

Throughout the years this has become a living metaphor.

For almost 20 years my husband and I have been sailing together as Captain and First Mate. A First Mate is an officer who ranks just below the Captain of the ship and takes over in the event that the Captain can no longer perform his duties. The titles are interchangeable. They are one in the same but can’t be the same, at the same time. I don’t know what would have happened had we boarded our ship as a Captain and passenger, or First Mate and Cook. All I know is that the ability to man our ship together as equals has warded off resentment and insecurities. It created a deep sense of camaraderie and companionship.

Over the years the storms we’ve faced together have overturned the ocean and with it, our pasts. We sort through the floating debris keeping what we need and tossing the junk back where it came from. We blame the weather rather than each other, or ourselves. We do the same when we are able to see a crystal clear picture of our future in the horizon when there are beautiful calm ordinary days.  

We visit different ports and spend time with our friends on their boats. We count the days till our grown children come aboard for holidays and vacations. 

Most of our days it’s just us, charting course, fishing, fixing what’s broken, amusing each other with stories and ideas under a blanket of stars. We know that our life at sea will someday end. It will be the strength of our sea legs that will carry us through to the next adventure.

Until then we will keep on dancing on that deck…

2016 Curbed Advice Choosing The Best Paint Color

2016 Curbed Advice Choosing The Best Paint Color

2016 Portland Business Journal Devine Bath

2016 Portland Business Journal Devine Bath

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