Fly Fishing, Marriage & the Risk of Asking for Help

Have you ever asked a loved one to help you with something? I should have known better than to ask my husband to show me how to fly fish. I was already reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fly Fishing by Michael D. Shook. And I am an idiot—I’m sorry—a completeidiot when it comes to the sport of fly-fishing.

Christy Hayes

Me in my seriously oversized fly fishing outfit (otherwise known as waders)

We were on vacation. On a river. With all the gear. And he was going anyway. I’d already read the first five chapters, through knots and casting. Now all I needed was the feel of the rod in my hand and the sound of the water. Just me and nature and my most loved one. Why you ask? For my work in progress, of course! I couldn’t care less about fishing, mostly because if I actually caught a fish, I’d have to touch it to get it off the hook and I really didn’t want to touch it.

The first time I’d ever asked him for help was back in college when I was taking accounting for non-majors and he (a finance/risk management major) seemed like the perfect person to help. He loved me. We never fought (remember new love?), and he was way smarter than I was about math. It was our first fight.

Obviously, we made it through, but it set the stage for a lifetime of me asking for help and him seriously making me mad and not being able to relinquish control. The scenario plays itself over and over again whenever he and our son try to do something together. My poor baby! He can’t call the man a control freaking idiot and walk away the way I can. Although now that he’s fifteen, it probably won’t be long.

What is it about spouses? Is it just me? Even when I ask him to help with something simple, something I’m sure he won’t take over, we end up at odds and I end up wishing I’d never asked.

At the end of our lesson when he wrestled the rod from my hands for the hundredth time saying, “Watch me. Like this,” I couldn’t take it any more. I didn’t want to watch him. I wanted to do it myself and figure it out on my own. I guess that’s what happens when two headstrong people vie for control of a situation that requires finesse and patience—two things neither of us possess.

So make me feel better, will you? Tell me about a time when you and your significant other struggled to get along and complete a task. And if you know of any fishing guides out there who’d be willing to answer some pretty basic questions, send them my way, would you? 🙂


About Christy Hayes

A wife, a mother and a writer of romantic women's fiction. I love dogs, exercise and cable news.

Posted on July 9, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Enjoying your vacation, eh? Husbands are all the same. 🙂 Like you, I learned the lesson early in our relationship and the task was reasonably simple: painting a bedroom. I’d just bought a condo and I had a few days off work, so I thought I’d paint my bedroom. Future hubby wanted me to wait until he got back from a business trip. But I had a master’s degree, surely I could paint a room! (I think ti was those actual words that doomed me.) Of course, when he got home that evening, he ended up staying up half the night to “fix” the imaginary mistakes I’d made. He’s been our painter ever since. I get to tape.

    These days, his mini-me control freak son corrects everything I do on the computer. I ask him to show me HOW to do something and he does it for me. I guess it’s just in the male DNA.

    Hope the rest of the trip goes better!

    • Christy Hayes

      Yes, Tracy, I think you’re right–it’s in the DNA! We can’t change them. It’s my fault for forgetting what he is and is not capable of. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. I solved this problem by marrying the Buddha, who lets me be the control freak!

  3. Oh Kristy, you knew better! I do this same thing – as often as I forget it’s not going to help, asking him for help. All the time he’s “explaining” I’m having a running conversation in my head, “You’re an idiot. You knew this was going to happen – when are you going to learn?”

    Come with me, Hon – we’ll go fly fishing together – I’ll let you figure it out yourself.

    Or, since you don’t care about fishing – email me your questions about it, I’ll be glad to answer them!

  4. Oh Christy! You opened up a can of worms with this one. Just yesterday we were putting the covers back on the couch (which I’d just washed and I swear it felt like they’d shrunk) and you’d think I was a complete nimrod the way he was telling me to do it. And, like Tracy, I’m thinking “hey, I have a Master’s degree, I can figure this out” – NOT. He always seems to have a better way of doing something no matter HOW dorky the project.

    • Christy Hayes

      His way or the highway. How do they everything about everything? They must be exhausted!

  5. Every day. I married the same man you did, did you know that? 🙂 I can even tell him the simplest of things that I’m going to go do, and he will manage to turn it around and suggest strongly that I go do that thing, because of blah blah blah. So suddenly it was his idea instead of mine. Makes me want to chew tree bark.

    • Christy Hayes

      It does help, Sharla, knowing I’m not alone! And I forgot about how things become their idea. Love that one!

  6. Ah men … can’t live with them, can’t live without them. LOL! My husband used to tell me how to vacuum, till he got tired of me handing him the vacuum cleaner and walking away. If he wants a job done right — in other words, if he wants the job done his way — then he has to do it himself or shut his mouth. 🙂

    No doubt, he thinks the same thing about my demands ….

  7. Among the many things I never want to do, fly fishing might be waaay up there. Okay Christy … it went like this. My beloved, “How could you spend your entire adult life and never have learned to drive?” Me, “I don’t have to drive, I live in Brooklyn.”

    We bought the house in the burbs and my beloved thought it was about time. It was like your dentist teaching you how to pull out your own teeth without drugs. Never fear. I learned to drive. Six months later. Again, my beloved, “How come the gas tank is always empty if you don’t go anywhere?” He wrote down the mileage on the odometer. “Where the heck did you go that was ninety miles from hre?” I thought you hated the burbs.

    I didn’t hate the Jersey Shore, driving ninety miles an hour on the Garden State, bare-footed with loud music to hang out with my buds in Wildwood.

    Okay, so beloved is now the “ex” beloved. But it matters not. They are all the same, those we keep and those we put in the recycle bin. Never ask them directions. They get to places through osmosis. Don’t tell them you’d love to make their mom’s best recipe. They never remember the “secret” ingredient and then hate your version. Never ask them where they want to eat, which movie they want to see. Tell them ten minutes before you’re leaving the house like one of the kids.

    As for fly fishing … if you really must … I’d go with Laura Drake’s advice.

    • Christy Hayes

      I’m going with Laura, no doubt! Sorry about the ex-beloved! At least your memories make you smile!

  8. Christy,

    Christy…Christy…Christy…please take a moment to visit my blog or website to fully appreciate my comments. I teach fly fishing professionally and live in Savannah. I’m married to a federal law enforcement officer who also fly fishes. NO! I did NOT teach her to fish. I sent her to THREE of my colleagues for lessons before I ever went fishing with her.

    You see, the first rule of physical skills training is:

    Thou shalt never, ever, under any circumstances, try to teach your spouse to fly fish, golf, play tennis, shoot, sew, or fold laundry.

    It never ceases to amaze me how few people are aware of this immutable law of nature, or choose to ignore it at their own peril.

    If I can help, just whistle. You do know how to whistle, don’t you? You just pucker up your lips and blow.

    • Christy Hayes

      I will print out and refer to the first rule of physical training whenever I’m tempted to ask him for help. Thank you for this clear cut advice.

      I will whistle when I have a question or two. Thank you! I hope not to get too technical in the book, but I would like my guide to come off as realistic.

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll bet the fact that your wife carries a gun helps to keep the peace. I know it would it my marriage!

      • Christy,

        That is another one of my cardinal rules:

        Never argue with a woman bearing weapons.

        I actually learned that one the hard way back in college. Ugly story involving an ex-girlfriend and a kitchen knife. LOL

        But I would like to bring up one little bitty “Devil’s Advocate” point to ponder here, ladies. Have y’all ever stopped to consider that only a control freak gets freaked out by someone trying to take control or refusing to relinquish control? In fact, the reason for the first rule of physical skills training is that this invariably leads to power struggles, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings when the whole intent was to be helpful and/or receive help from one’s spouse/soulmate.

        Familiarity breeds contempt. So expert, or referent, power carries no weight. Spouses simply don’t believe their spouse might just be God’s gift to the universe at anything. We’ve seen them trip over their underwear trying to put them on.

        There is no such thing as “constructive criticism” coming from a man whom a woman loves. And you cannot provide quality instruction without constructive criticism.

        Combine those two phenomena of intimacy and you’re doomed from the start – I don’t care how mature or enlightened you are.

        • You are a wise man, Ken. As you will note from my post, I did mention that neither me nor my husband possess finesse or patience thereby making us a very bad team and incriminating me in the process. I am, as usual, equal parts involved in this problem.

          I am, as you mention, no where near mature or enlightened enough to take criticism from my husband. I dare say you are correct in assuming no one is!

          Sounds like you chose your mate wisely considering your college experience, for I can’t imagine you marrying anyone adept at weaponry if not for true love and the utmost trust. May you have a long and happy union!

          • No, I just like to live dangerously, and I’m more than comfortable with my own capacity to both control and defend myself. It gets a bit “sporty” around here now and then. LOL

  9. Christy,

    I feel your pain. I’m also married to an avid fly fisher, a control freak, a man who’d rather do it for me than to help me. I still went and made the major mistake of asking his advice on fly fishing terminology and techniques for a book I was writing. The night I received the final edits, he stormed around the house demanding I “pull the plug on this book” because the copy editor had hyphenated all the ‘fly-fishing’ terms. Yeah, like that was going to happen. (Thanks to a very understanding editor, we were able to correct the problem.) For the future, though, I think I’ll write down Ken Morrow’s contact info (see comment above) and keep it handy in case I EVER write about fly fishers again. LOL

    • Christy Hayes

      Thanks for the group hug. I knew I wasn’t alone and your kind words make me feel worlds better. Ken is now my go-to guy for fly fishing. I’ll have to check out your book. If you get a minute, post a link here, would you? Thanks!

  10. How I found your blog? Through a Google News Alert for “Kids Fly Fishing”. As an author of a children’s book series about fly fishing, I pay attention to that sorta stuff. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m out of place here, but since I am here, and you mentioned fly fishing in your blog post, I may as well comment. First, don’t give up on fly fishing. Seriously, it’s pretty much the greatest past time you could find, and it will give you something to do with your hubby in the future. However–and this is important–don’t let him teach (show) you. Find a local fly shop. Sign up for a lesson. Maybe even take one of your girlfriends along with you. If you’re lucky, the shop will offer a comprehensive beginner’s course that will involve class time, casting lessons, and some time on the water. Then, maybe even book a half day trip with a guide. You may consider taking your husband along if he’s been good, but make him sit in the back of the boat while you’re up front, with the guide to help you. We angler types know better than to try to teach our spouses how to cast, etc. That’s best left to the pros. Good luck and do keep at it!

    • Christy Hayes

      You know, Kirk, I should have started with a kids book–that’s authoring 101. Children’s books provide just enough information with easy to understand instruction. Thanks for the reminder! If I ever catch the bug, trust me, I’ll pay good money for a professional. I’ll be sure to check out your book!

  11. Spouses are off-limits when it comes to asking for help in our marriage–for anything serious, that is. You want to fight? Ask for help.

    Don’t ask me why that is, but it seems to be the case! 🙂

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