If you're here, I hope you know of the Captain/first mate relationship dynamic. To adequately pilot a ship, someone has to be Captain. As a man, that's YOUR job. You can listen to suggestions if you have a proven first mate, but the ultimate decisions are up to you. You can't co-captain a relationship any more than a ship or a plane.
So, your boat is chugging along nicely, why not go down to the cabin for a few drinks? You've been mostly keeping it on the designated heading, despite the busted compass and clocked rudder. The first mate is capable at the wheel for a few hours. She can keep it on course. Damn it's nice down here. Big screen, lots of snacks. Can't even hear the kids. Start getting more and more comfortable, letting the responsibilities of life slip away and not really caring where the ship is headed. Shit I drank too much.
But the first mate never wanted to be captain. That's why she chose you all those years ago. She resents how she has to pick up your slack, resents how you felt somehow ok just being a couch potato all day, resents how your mutual hopes and plans have somehow faded away without a whimper. Doing a job she hates because somebody has to keep the whole thing afloat. Where the fuck is this thing even headed?
You've become a fat, lazy, whiny drunk. She sees you as one of her children, just another need she needs to fulfill. She's your mommy, your cheerleader, your babysitter, your co-captain. No respect, no sex. You're just not an attractive person. So she gives up. Finally stops the boat and jumps ship into her own little life raft. You're still tied together by this long line, 1000 feet of rope coiled between you, but you're essentially on separate vessels.
As you awaken from your stupor, hangover pounding, low angle sun streaming painfully in, you realize the engines are silent. You are alone. But nobody delivered breakfast! You come up on deck. Dead in the water. First mate nowhere to be found. You're drifting towards the rocks. Shit. How did it get to this?
You have to do something. Where are the damn keys? Fuckfuckfuck....Under the visor, stupid. Ok, started. Choose a direction leading away from the rocks, apply a little gas. You remember how to drive this thing?
If you freak out and push the throttles to their stops, the propwash will rock the life raft, and the first mate will wake up, get up and grab the keys away. Rightly so, you've been a fuckup for years, why should she suddenly start trusting you, Captain Rambo? Your balls haven't grown back yet, so you'll let her regain/retain control. Back to your rum. You have no business wearing that ridiculous hat. Mommy is so mean!
You have to ease it away, slowly, gradually picking up speed. Be gentle. Don't tell the fucking first mate anything. She won't believe you anyway. Takes discipline and patience and most importantly, SILENCE. STFU. SSSHHH!
As you continue to get up on plane, speed rising, you start to realize how cool it is to be captain of your own vessel again. You're enjoying life again. Holy shit! I don't need a first mate at all! Engines humming, buzzing the hot houseboat hotties, getting a tan in the hot sun, like is good. I'm on a boat!
The first mate has been left behind, still slowly drifting towards the shore. The 1000 feet of rope is paying out, faster and faster. She hasn't noticed any difference from her perspective. Matter of fact, the removal of the burden of taking care of your lazy ass is a bonus. She can sleep in, as long as you don't chop the throttles when you see a log floating in front of you. Made a decision, steer around it smoothly. You don't need to check in with her for a second opinion. You're relearning mastery of your trajectory.
Eventually the rope gets taut, starts to tug. By this point you're so far ahead, jumping wakes, enjoying your cruise, that whether she comes along for a fun ride or not is up to her. You've rediscovered your passion, your drive. You are outcome independent. Almost forgot she was still tied on back there.
She may accept you as her new captain and decide to come along, or not believe you and simply cut the line. Either way you'll keep on doing what you choose to do as captain of your own ship. You can even cut the line yourself if the drag gets too bad or if you decide you'd rather tow that inflatable hot tub full of spring breakers. You get to decide where you pilot your own damn ship.
But be very aware of the 1000 foot distance between you. It takes a long time for something on the end of such a long lead to respond to changes at the front. Give it a minute.