After I posted my Valentine’s Day blog about my parents, longtime reader Bettie Kincaid said it reminded her of another blog I did on our anniversary last year, titled Our Love Story, and said maybe romance ran in the Russell family. She added that she and her husband fulltimed for two years but decided to get off the road after that because it was too stressful for them living in the small space of their motorhome, and they decided that staying married was more important than staying fulltime RVers.
In Betty’s words (which I am sharing here with her permission), “in 17 years of marriage we never had a real knock down, drag out fight about anything until we started fulltiming, but in the two years we were on the road it seemed like we were always at each others’ throats. I applaud those of you can do it, but it didn’t work for us.”
This is something I cover in one of the seminars I do on fulltiming at RV rallies. I call it being two-gether, and no, that’s not a typo. As I say, it’s one thing to love each other, but if you’re going to live in an RV fulltime, you really have to like each other, too! And even then, it takes work.
When you live in a 1200+ square foot home and you have a little spat, hubby can wander out to the garage or his man cave to get away for a while, or go mow the grass, or whatever else he needs to do to let off steam. Or the wife can go next door to the neighbor’s house and have a cup of coffee and talk about what a stubborn SOB he can be. and get it out of her system. But when home is a 320 square foot RV, there’s no place to go to escape for a while. No matter where you turn, he (or she) is right there!
Even couples who get along very well under normal circumstances can find the adjustment to living the fulltime RV lifestyle challenging. In fact, after giving my seminar on fulltiming at Life on Wheels years ago, a couple came up to us during the lunch break and told us they wanted to thank Terry and me for talking them out of fulltiming. I said that certainly wasn’t our intention, but they said no, it was a good thing. “We love each other to death, and we usually get along very well,” said the wife. “And we love traveling. But after a couple of days in a motel we find ourselves bickering and snapping at each other. He says I take too long in the bathroom, I say he shouldn’t leave his shoes in the middle of the floor so I can trip over them, just little things like that. But those little things add up to big irritations. We realize that if we can’t get along for a week in a motel, living in an RV just won’t work for us. Your seminar probably saved our marriage.”
While I’m glad we helped prevent them from making a mistake, I wish they could find a way to work around their issues, because fulltiming with someone you love can be a great lifestyle. But I do understand that if there problems that a couple can’t work through, it can just as easily be pure hell.
So what is the secret to maintaining a relationship while being fulltime RVers? I can sum it up in two words, and it’s not a secret, because those two words are the ones that make any relationship work – communication and compromise. It can’t be one person’s way all the time. If the husband likes to go to Civil War battlefields, or to tractor pulls, or enjoys boondocking out in the middle of nowhere for weeks on end, while the wife prefers museums, and touring historic homes, and hanging out on the beach, somebody has to be willing to give up what they want once in a while so the other person can have their turn. If not, it won’t be long before resentment starts to build up.
However, if you are not the person who is getting what you want out of the RV experience, or any relationship, for that matter, it’s your responsibility to speak up. Maybe your partner doesn’t know that you want to go to those tractor pulls or to the beach, because instead of saying so you just go along while they do their thing and suffer in silence. That’s where communication comes in. There’s nothing at all wrong with saying, “I know you like such and such, and let’s do that this week. But next week I want to do something that interests me.”
Another thing that is important is that you have to be willing to overlook some things that might normally get to you. Here’s an example; I’m a slob. My desk usually looks like a tornado just hit it. I’ve got notes and pens and reading glasses and my phone and stuff scattered all over the top of it. Terry, on the other hand, likes things neat and orderly. I know there are times she looks at my desk and cringes, but she knows that is my space and she leaves it alone. For my part, I don’t throw my clothes on the floor and leave them there, I pick up after myself, and I try not to make too much of a mess everywhere I go to avoid making extra work for her whenever I can.
Don’t get me wrong, there will still be the occasional bad day. We’re all human and I don’t know any couple who agrees on everything. And sometimes you just need to clear the air. So do it. But do it respectfully, and then put it behind you and move on. It’s not always easy living in the close confines of an RV, and it takes work, but it’s worth it.
Thought For The Day – Be careful with words because once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.