merchant mariner families

...a highly unusual, sometimes maddening,
but mostly comical way of life.

July 09, 2013

the bad

A post I kept up for the weekend which got some really great responses!

Knowing that eventually you'll get through it, how much of 'the bad' that's going on at home do you share with your mariner while he or she is out to sea? Mariners, do you want to know about 'the bad' even though you can't do anything about it? Beady wants to know about every little thing, but sometimes I think it's a detriment and don't always want to tell him. What about you?

Nannette I don't share any of the bad at home if possible. My tugboat man does a better job out there of he doesn't know about it. That is just us.

Frank As a retired deep sea Chief Engineer I say keep it at home unless it's a dire emergency. The boys on the ships need to stay focused.

Erin I have to watch myself with 'bad' things, especially if they can be resolved without adding to his stress. I try to filter unnecessary things, but it doesn't always work. We like to vent, but we don't always see how that can weigh on them. When kids are in the picture, the filtering probably be comes even more necessary (the kid got a bloody nose vs. Being in the ER.)

Dave I agree with Erin. I vent to Jamie when things are tough at work and she can vent to me. But a filter is necessary as the little crappy things in life can seem pretty dire if piled onto a mariner during a brief phone call. Some things like the death of a pet would have to be told at the right time. Once, while at work, I got a phone call from the captain's wife wanting to talk to me, chief mate at the time. The family dog had died and she wanted to make sure things were going well onboard the tug before she broke the news to her husband. Relating to that: break the news fast. Don't try and drag it out to soften the blow. In the short time your mariner is trying to figure out what you are talking about he will have gone over several worst case scenarios in his head and that is just unnecessary.

Brooke Wow. It's interesting to read the other comments. I have never really thought about a filter. When my husband calls he tells me about the weather and about all the boat happenings good and bad. When its my turn to share I fill him in as much as possible. The good and the bad all comes out. All I know is that he wants to know what has been happening with his house and family during his absence. It's a crazy relationship. When Seth left for Ak this last hitch someone asked me if I had a good visit with my husband. The question struck me as strange, but then it made sense and it made me sad.

Sonja My husband likes to hear the good, the bad, the ugly..whatever it is. For him I think it's a way of staying connected and a kind of comfort knowing we're still here no matter what's going on. Phone conversations are far and few between in 3 months and he soaks up every detail like its the last thing he'll ever hear. Being the kind of man he is, he will never tell me anything bad (such as a tugboat hitting the side of the ship or a smaller ship tied up to his bursts into flames or the huge storms) until he gets home or is just about to come home.Either way, I'll gladly listen or talk,whatever makes his days at sea bearable.

Bridget I wouldn't want to distract him so I filter some.

Lindsey I don't filter anything. We are a team and often, his insights help me look at things in a way that I don't or can't. He feels like he can still help in times of crisis and I get the comfort of his wisdom and support. I am fiercely independent and he's pretty proud of my abilities to manage in his absence but secretly, he loves to feel needed. Since I stalk his tug on AIS, I can tell when things are amiss so he has no choice but to tell me about boat related mishaps. We do get to talk more than most with his Southeast Alaska runs though so I can see how those that have longer separations may choose not to divulge all the dirty details.

Terry I want to know all of what's happening at the house. I'm the one who keeps the bad stuff from reaching home

Liz I know I'm a little late in responding but, here goes. My husband arrived a few days early in Seattle to stay with a friend before shipping out to Alaska. One of those nights I had a really strange (mostly because I'm not really allergic to anything) reaction. My eye swelled up and I'm pretty sure I was breaking out in hives. So, there I am all alone, looking like a freak and hoping I'm not going to die and I call... "Babe, (heard in a slightly exasperated, and mostly concerned, sigh) there's not much I can do from 3,000 miles away. Why don't you call your sister? She's at least in the same state, even if she is an hour and a half away. Take some Benedryl." "I did. Would you call me in an hour to make sure I'm not dead?" "What if you don't answer? What if it just knocks you out and you're sleeping? THEN what do you want me to do? ...Call your sister." Okay - so he may have been right. The funny thing is, I would never have tried to call him while he was out to sea. His cell service is always terrible, and I wouldn't have wanted to worry him. But, for some reason I thought it was perfectly acceptable to call him while he was on the other side of the country! I guess I wasn't entirely in "Merchant Mariner Wife Mode" yet. Still hoping he could help solve the issues that come up. So, for the most part, I don't give him the daily grind stuff. I will always tell him the important things, good or bad, but I try to go easy on the drama! And it helps if the "bad" things, I have already been able to resolve before he hears about them. Um, lesson learned!

Ivy I have to filter a lot - but that was not always the case. His position (CM) and type of work (UDW Drillship) now require his full attention at nearly all times. I miss the days of 2m when we could talk for an hour every day.

Enchanted Seashells I don't normally share anything bad because I don't want him to worry and get distracted because of the dangerous work he does. He wants me to tell him everything but I worry about him too much. I'll tell him about stuff that breaks or stuff and people that piss me off, but I won't tell him if I'm not feeling good. The only time I would do that is if I need him to come home if it's an emergency. Otherwise, I feel it'd be selfish to jeopardize his safety. Good question!


  1. I tell him all the good and bad, but I wait on the bad until it has been resolved or is not a pressing issue. I never tell him the bad when I'm still emotional about it, so sometimes I don't tell him for a few days or until he gets home. I try not to burden him with the Beady's law stuff because he can't do anything about it and it makes him feel bad. He mostly likes to hear about my mundane days, he says it allows him to feel closer to home. So I know if I'm saying to myself "gosh this is boring stuff", I know it is good for him.

  2. I tell my mariner just about everything that goes on. It enables him to have a say, help out and feel more connected. I do pretty good running the household and working while he's at sea. We have a very strong relationship. But its our life our home, he should have part in it even while he's at sea. There isn't a whole lot of bad that I can't handle on my own. But I still share so that he's included in our lives.