How to dive as a couple and stay married

17 Jul

Well, I am currently sat at a cafe in Orange Grove Shopping Estate on the Dutch side of the island while my car is being serviced at the Harley Davidson Garage.

It is a strange morning as I am sat in a French Cafe on the Dutch side where the menu is in French and the prices are in Gilders. The waitress said that they don’t really offer breakfast, although there are 5 choices of omelets on the menu. Plus, I have left my car at a Harley Davidson Garage, even though they mostly fix cars. Seems very St. Martin if you ask me.

At any rate…. I am stuck here for two hours while they service / fix the car so I figured that I would drag you through this time with me.

Chris keeps telling me that I’m not blogging enough, and I reply “but I have nothing to blog about as I’m not scuba diving.” He said “Blog about something else, blog about your pregnancy.” But you don’t want to hear about that. I went to lunch with my good friend Emma the other day, (she is also pregnant and due one week before I am) and we were talking about pregnancy and babies the whole time. Even Chris (who was with us) threw his arms up at one point and said something like “Do I really need to know this?” (I think this was in response to some discussion concerning flatulence, or perhaps it was our boobs, can’t remember.) So, if my own husband can’t handle sitting with a bunch of pregnant ladies talking openly about the whole experience, perhaps you won’t enjoy it either… I will save you, don’t worry.

Thing is… Diving is what I love to write about, and I just haven’t been doing any of that lately. That isn’t your fault though, so Chris is right (don’t tell him I said that) and I shouldn’t be punishing you. Instead, I think that I will write about… hmmmm, let me think…. I know…. diving! Perhaps it won’t be any dives that I have done recently, but diving nonetheless.

(Note to reader: do not order the freshly squeezed orange juice at Le Champagne French Bistro, it is not fresh and I am dubious as to whether it was actually composed of oranges at all).

When I asked on Facebook the other day for some suggestions on what to blog about, Dana Davis suggested “how to dive together and stay married (or, why do so many people dive without their spouse?)” and I thought this was a great idea.

Now, as I am married to my dive buddy I have a little bit of experience on this. I suppose that I’m not just married to my dive buddy, but I am also married to my business partner, so there is an added level to this. However, I feel qualified to write about this subject.

(Note to reader: do not order the cafe au lait at Le Champagne French Bistro, it comes out lukewarm in a cup that looks like an inverted cone with a ridiculously shaped handle, and leaves a horrible metallic taste in your mouth).

When I first met Chris, we met through diving. I think I had about 10 dives at this point, and he had about 200. So to me, at that time, he was some sort of Dive God! (Don’t tell him I said that….!) His buoyancy was super sexy and oh… the way he cleared his mask! (Just kidding! It wasn’t exactly like that, but his dive skills were pretty impressive to that young diver Sally). He was my dive guide and chaperone (pretty sure he broke some rules on that trip πŸ™‚ ) and diving was what really brought us together. However, there are millions of couples that become a couple and THEN start diving together. Or one is already a diver and the other then becomes a diver.

What you have to ask yourself as a couple is do you both really want to dive? I can’t tell you how many couples we have all taught where one person just really isn’t into it. They are just doing it to support their spouse. On one hand, this is great. We all watch crap TV sometimes because our husbands favorite show about cars is on the TV (or aliens… Chris loves those Nat Geo shows about aliens and I CAN’T STAND THEM.) On the other hand, this level of support doesn’t always work when diving is concerned because you really need to want to dive. When you take the Open Water course (the first level of scuba certification) we ask you to do some things that you may not like. For example taking your regulator out of your mouth, or taking your mask off your face. If you don’t really want to dive, then this does seem like torture and you will most likely resent your spouse and your dive instructor at that point and not want to dive again ever!

The best thing to do, is if you are couple thinking about getting certified and one person really isn’t sure, then do a discover scuba dive first. This is a way of just diving, just having fun, no real skills to do. The experience will either get you hooked and signed up for the course or… it shows you that perhaps diving is something for your significant other, and a chance for you to relax with a good book by the pool and do what you want to do.

There are so many different scenarios and this is one of the reasons that I personally love what I do. It isn’t just about the underwater experience, it is about the people experience, learning about people and also watching them learn about themselves and their relationships. Once you dive with someone, you learn a lot about them.

For example, there are the couples where the husband won’t stop fussing over the wife. He fusses over her equipment, over her weights, over everything! Perhaps he will pull one of us to the side before the dive and say quietly “my wife is really nervous today” or “she had a bad time in the Caymans last year with her mask.” Then you get in the water and the wife looks like she was an extra on Sea Hunter for her entire life and the husband is freaking out. We call this projecting….

Or, there are the sneaky couples. The one’s that try to get away with going off in their own direction, far far away from the group, even though they know they are supposed to stay with the dive guide. These couples also sometimes hide how much air they have used (don’t try this with Stuart!)

(Note to reader: The omelet is actually pretty good at Le Champagne French Bistro. And even though they claim not to serve breakfast, it is very breakfastesque.)

Then there are the couples that are totally independent. The wife and the husband just do their own thing underwater separately, and this is what they like. It is so personal, the type of dive experience that you want to have. I mean, some couples hold hands the whole dive, others get to the surface and you ask them where their significant other is and they have no idea!

This reminds me of a funny story for two students that Chris had once. I can’t remember their names… wait, I will look in my file of student photos and see if I can drag them up. OK, pretty sure I found them. Here are there mug shots. Geoff and Geris.

Dive St Martin / SXM Scuba SXM

So, Chris taught them how to dive, they were great students, natural divers, blah blah blah. Then they signed up for some diving after certification, fun diving, no skills. I can’t remember the dive site, but about half way during the dive Geris approached Geoff from behind, sort of caressed his bottom a little and then crawled up his back and tank, grabbed his head to turn him over for a little underwater smooching and as she turned his head she saw that it wasn’t Geoff at all, but a completely different guy underwater. Still makes me laugh to think about it. Luckily for me, Chris has had the same fins for his ENTIRE diving careers, so I haven’t made that mistake.

(Omelet is done now and I am running out of time to kill before picking up my car from the motorcycle shop… so I better start winding this up.)


1) Diving is a fun and bonding experience, but it can also be stressful for people. Learn to notice the signs that your dive buddy (aka spouse) gives off indicate that they are nervous and address that fear before getting into the water. (This sign could be them fussing over you).

2) Give your spouse personal space underwater and on the boat. Although diving is a very social sport, it is also very individual. We all have our little quirks and may not appreciate it if our dive buddy changes the straps on our BCD or dictates which direction the dive is going all the time.

3) Be a good diver first. Safety is always first…. this means that YOU should be responsible for YOUR own safety, YOUR own equipment and YOUR own dive. Don’t rely on your dive buddy all the time to make sure your mask in on the boat or that you are venting your BCD on ascent. If you are safe in the water, if you are looking after yourself in the water, your dive buddy doesn’t have to worry about you and this will avoid any I-thought-you-were-getting-my-fins arguments.

4) Plan your dive and dive your plan! One of the arguments that I remember having with Chris on a dive was in Indonesia on the Straight of Bunaken National park. It was this beautiful wall dive with fish everywhere, and our job was simply to look after a VIP guest and show him an amazing experience. The thing was that this guy was going really quickly (or slowly, I can’t remember, but it was one or the other) and there was also current. Chris and I ended up really far away from each other, almost out of visual, and we had this underwater argument. We eventually resolved it (also underwater) but if we had had a plan and discussed this before hand, perhaps the whole argument could have been avoided (although I do love thinking back on it and all our angry underwater hand signals to each other!)

5) Communicate! I suppose that this little gem of knowledge is no secret to any couple, but communication is key, whether above or below the surface. Share what is going on with you. Is your air low? Are you cold? Did you see something super cool? Make up your own hand signals special to just the two of you. Keep them simple, but keep communicating. I find that after doing a thousand dives with Chris our underwater communication is probably better than our topside communication.

6) Have fun. Diving is fun. Geris knew all about this πŸ™‚ I can’t say this enough. Don’t take everything super seriously, once all the safety issues are taken care of, I see absolutely no problem with riding your partners tank like a cowboy, or shoving some parrot fish sleeping bag remains up your dive buddies shorts (Chris really hates it when I do that… hee hee hee. Once I shoved a whole moon jelly right up his shorts, and I mean right up there!!! Ahhh, memories.)

7) Dive within your limitations. If your dive buddy (aka spouse) is a master scuba diver and wants to do a night dive on the Oriskany (a famous wreck dive in Florida that is really super deep) and you feel you aren’t trained for it, then just don’t do it! Perhaps this goes back to #5 which was communicate.

(Note to reader: if you are in a hurry, ask for the check far in advance. Getting paid does not seem to be a high priority at Le Champagne French Bistro.)

8) Give in to the dive. What do I mean by this? Diving can be this amazing shared experience, let it be just that. It’s like that scene in Superman (the original one) where Superman take Louis Lane on her first flying trip and they are going over the clouds together and she finally lets go of him and stretches her arms out, experiencing it for herself, but they are still connected at the same time. (She lets go and them almost plummets to her death, but just ignore that part.) Not sure if that makes sense to all of you, or if it is the perfect analogy, but you get what I mean. It can be romantic and it should be shared. When diving time seems to stand still, let it. Give in to the dive.

9) This one is more for professional diving couples, those that work together in the industry. Never tell your spouse how to teach. We all do it our own way, and we all think that our way is the best way. Well, I know that my way is the best way, (but don’t tell Chris I said that πŸ™‚ ).

10) Last one. If you have a pregnant wife at home that can’t scuba dive, then there are no dolphins in the ocean, the viz is always bad, and even though diving is tiring you will never complain about being tired because at least you still get to do it, unlike the woman sat behind the desk with a basketball up her shirt!

OK, I really have to go now, and I’m sure that you feel thoroughly dragged through my morning. Thanks for sharing it with me. Can you believe I have been here for 2 hours? Enjoy all your dives with your spouse, or your time by yourself away from them. If you don’t have a spouse, then diving is a great way to meet that special someone… worked for me anyway!

Please let me know your tips on diving as a couple and staying married. I would love to hear them!

Finally got my check!

(Sally wrote this blog.)

6 Responses to “How to dive as a couple and stay married”

  1. kristy July 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Congratulations on the baby to be! I actually enjoy diving with Derek…to the point that I feel a little uncomfortable on a dive if he is not there! I know when he is in the water with me…he is watching out for me! I also know that he is an extra set of eyes, we both like to point things out to each other. Really great when he spotted the whale shark years ago!
    Diving with kids is fun as well! I did a trip with our youngest recently, and besides my watching out for him…I did notice that he was keeping an eye out for me!

    • Sally July 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks Kristy! I also love diving with Chris, but I prefer to be on my own lookout. As long as you two have it worked out the way you like it, that is the important thing! Speak soon! Sally

  2. Mark Maher July 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Sally, it was nice sharing breakfast with you. I’m absolutely stuffed. But oddly, I have a craving for an omelet followed by a nice two tank trip on Octopussy.


    • Sally July 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Well, we would love to take you out! Just come back and visit any time!!! πŸ™‚

  3. Esha July 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Thanks for this blog entry, Sally! I had the biggest laugh reading about Geris’ escapade!

  4. Greg in OKlahoma July 20, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    I so TOTALLY agree, diving should be fun ! I have never understood people on the boat, in the shop, or on the dock complaining about something silly, while being at the ocean, about to splash down into a part of the world that the majority of the population never get to see ! REALLY ?
    I think our “arguments” on our dive trip stems from who had a better time, who used less air, and who saw more stuff !!! And always try to end in a laugh and a smile (unless I lose) !
    We try to encourage each other to explore what we like best. La Deana loves to lay on the sand and wait for the garden eels to come out, so I go off (not too far) and search for drum fish and cleaner shrimp ( I love to get an underwater manicure from those guys ! ). Then we catch back up to the group together. It always seems like we fall to the back, but probably has something to do with taking pictures. And we absolutely LOVE when a newer diver comes with us, just to see the excitement in their eyes, and remind us again of why we love diving so much.

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