During the Yamadas' adventurous marriage, there haven’t been many dull moments.
“I wouldn’t describe either of us as risk-takers, but we are definitely not afraid to try new things,” says Mrs. Yamada. “We enjoy ballroom dancing, mountain biking and scuba diving, but I couldn’t see either of us bungee jumping.”
Several years ago, the Yamadas decided to take up a new hobby – flying.
“I have always had a love for aviation,” says Mr. Yamada. “I used to build model airplanes as a kid. Learning to fly has been a lifelong dream. My wife loves to travel so getting our pilot’s license greatly expanded our travel options, which makes her very happy.”
Getting their pilots' licenses would not be without its marital challenges. While Mr. Yamada seemed to innately know about spark plugs, electrical systems and mechanics, his wife would definitely not describe them as second nature. She had to work hard to keep up.
"We are both very competitive people,” Mrs. Yamada says. “There were moments while we were taking lessons that the tension was elevated in our relationship. My husband might get ahead of me in an area and I would work extra hard to catch up.”
A real sticking point for Mrs. Yamada was when she was flying the plane and he would give her instructions. "Don’t forget to make your ten mile radio call," or "Don’t forget your carb heat." That unsolicited advice would get under her skin. Mr. Yamada agreed that he has that tendency, but has found that this experience has motivated him to improve in that area and enjoy the ride while his wife flies the plane.
It usually takes six to 12 months to get a pilot’s license. The Yamadas got theirs in 90 days. They would tell you it was a great experience and ultimately a good thing for their marriage.
“This forced us to learn how to manage our personalities,” Mr. Yamada says. “I can be bossy and a know-it-all at times. However, that doesn’t work well in the cockpit. We also came to the realization that when we are flying the plane is not the time for an argument. Taking flying lessons together has taught us how to work better together as a couple team.”
The Yamadas learned some additional valuable lessons to pass along to couples planning to learn a new hobby together.
- Make the ground rules ahead of time. There will be conflicts and disagreements. How will you handle them when they arise?
- Be patient. It is easy to get impatient with each other if you aren’t moving forward at the same pace. Keep the end goal in mind!
- Guard against being critical. There are some things that each of you do better than the other. Take advantage of this by learning from each other instead of criticizing.
- Apologize when you are wrong. This did not come easily for Mr. Yamada, but over the years he has learned he is not always right.
“Getting our pilots' licenses actually improved our marriage,” Mrs. Yamada says. “We had to learn how to communicate better, trust each other’s decisions and manage conflict. We have been on several trips already. It has been awesome to be in the cockpit with my best friend!”