Living Two-Gether

 Posted by at 1:00 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 302014
 

If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked us how we manage to live together in the relatively small confines of a motorhome, or heard somebody say, “We couldn’t do it fulltime, we’d kill each other” I could probably retire and live quite comfortably. One of the most common questions I get when I present my Reluctant RVer seminar at RV rallies is “How do you do it and stay married?”

I call it living two-gether, and for a lot of couples, being together in an RV 24/7 can be a major adjustment. For some it’s even a deal breaker.

No matter how much you love each other, the secret is that you really have to like each other, too. And it’s surprising how many couples love each other a lot, but don’t really like one another all that much.

Terry and I truly are best friends. We knew each other for years and were friends long before romance entered the picture. Sometimes we’ll be driving down the highway talking about the things we see along the way or where we are going, or whatever crosses our minds. Other times we’ll each be lost in our own thoughts and not say a word for fifty miles. But it’s a comfortable silence.

It’s the same way when we’re in a campground. We can talk for hours, but we are just as comfortable with quiet times, each of us doing our own thing. I’ll be writing and Terry will be weaving or crocheting, and just knowing the other is there to look and give you a smile is all we need.

It’s wonderful being married to your best friend. But even best friends need time apart now and then. All couples experience occasional friction and have little spats or disagreements. When you are living in a sticks and bricks house you can always go out to the garage or the sewing room, or across the street to the neighbor’s for a cup of coffee and a place to vent. But when you live in 300 square feet, where do you go to escape to?

Sometimes going for a walk around the campground, or a bike ride, or just outside to sit under the awning with a good book is enough. If you’re ticked off and need to work out some aggression, grab a rag and some waterless car wash and clean the front of the RV. If you’re really upset, come over and do mine when you’re done!

There doesn’t have to be a problem though. Maybe you just need some space. How do you have some “me” time? A lot of campgrounds, especially in snowbird areas, have activities going on, from sewing circles (the ladies call it stitch and bitch), to golf outings, craft classes, genealogy seminars, and things like that. I don’t like shopping and Terry doesn’t like me shopping with her because she feels rushed. So when it’s time to stock up she’ll go by herself and I’ll stay home and sleep… I mean research my next book.

All relationships take compromise, and even more so when you’re fulltiming or spending winters in some snowbird roost. Terry and I are both night owls so we go to bed together and get up together. But not everybody is like us. Greg White is a night owl too, but his pretty wife Jan is more of the early to bed, early to rise mindset. It works for both of them – they each have their “me” time. But I’ve known some couples that had a problem because whoever is up first makes too much noise or expects their other half to get up too. That’s where compromise comes in; headphones can still allow you to watch TV without disturbing the sleeper, and hopefully as adults you can agree to work together so that each of you gets the rest you need on the schedule that fits you.

Compromise also comes in during the day. If all you do is go to ballgames, or to museums, or fishing, or whatever one person is interested in, the other one isn’t going to enjoy your travels very much. You have to agree to do your thing today and the other person’s thing tomorrow.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from women is that hubby wants to be on the road at the crack of dawn and drive nonstop until the sun goes down, like they’re in some kind of endurance race to see how many miles they can put behind them day after day. That gets old really fast. We’ve done it when we have to be someplace in a hurry, but it’s no fun. If all you want to do is see the world through a windshield, get a commercial drivers license and become a truck driver so you can get paid for it.

As fulltimers it’s just the two of you out there all alone. You need to communicate and learn to lean on each other. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to say “I can’t do this by myself.” Most regular blog readers know that I have a phobia about driving over high bridges. Terry, on the other hand, has no problem with it. So when we have a bridge on our route she takes the wheel and I snivel until we’re safely on the other side.

Something else that I think is very important no matter where you live, be it a house on a foundation or a house on wheels, is to never lose sight of what brought you together in the first place. My dad gave me some priceless advice when I was a young man, “Always treat your lady like you did on your first date, and never go to sleep at night without telling her you love her.” Terry and I may have had the worst fight of our marriage, but I never forget to open the car door for her or hold the door going into some place. You’ll seldom see us when we’re not holding hands, even if we really want to wring each others’ necks. And the very first thing we say to each other when we wake up every morning and the last thing we say before we fall asleep is, “I love you.” It makes living two-gether a lot more fun.

Congratulations to Ed Allard, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run. We had 138 entries this time around, and stay tuned, because another contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  26 Responses to “Living Two-Gether”

  1. This is an issue we are struggling with Nick. My husband and I worked different shifts for over 30 years and usually had different days off. Now that we are retired we find that we can’t get our schedules to mesh. I love getting up before dawn to sit outside and watch the sun come up and the world come to life. He usually gets to bed about 3 am and sleeps until 10 or 11. I feel like half the day is gone by the time he gets in gear and we are ready to do anything and I get annoyed. He can’t understand why I’m ready for bed at 9 pm when he wants to sit up and watch TV all night. I really thought that retirement would give us more time together but so far it has not. Back in our working life we used to joke that we were room mates who just happened to be married. Now I’m discovering just how different we really are. I want to see things and experience the places we visit and all he wants to do is watch TV. He says I can go do the tourist thing if I want to but he’ll stay home. So why even have a trailer? We spent last winter in Fort Lauderdale and never left the RV park except to go to the store. What’s the point?

  2. Amen & amen to this! I once read in an RV book – “If you are in a bad marriage, don’t think it will be improved by being together all the time in a space of 200-300 feet. It won’t.”
    Truth, that. Great blog on the subject! It’s right on target.

  3. Our first year on the road was very difficult for us. We were both trying to figure out how to adjust to living in our motorhome and what to do. Jill couldn’t adjust to the small kitchen and no big bathtub to soak in, and I felt lost because it seemed like wherever I sat to read or watch TV I was in her way when she wanted something out of a cabinet over my head. Besides that we were running back and forth from here to there and wearing ourselves out. Finally we just sat down one day and had a long talk about what we wanted out of this lifestyle and what we needed to do to get it. I think that talk saved our marriage or at least kept us from selling the RV and getting another house. Now we travel at a slower speed and stay longer between trips. And we have adjusted our minds to the smaller space so that we each have our own place inside the coach. We still have our moments but it gets better every day.

  4. I RVed as a solo for 2 years and then hooked up with a lady friend from my old hometown. That lasted 6 months and ended badly. She couldn’t understand why I got mad when her two cats shredded the furniture with their claws and I got tired of doing all the driving hooking up and the cooking too. After another year solo I met another single lady who was a snowbird and the difference was like night and day. We get along famously and laugh all the time. She can drive the truck too and isn’t intimated towing the fiver and best of all no cats!

  5. Very good advice Nick. Just plain good manners go a long ways, don’t they? Hubby and I are not yet in an RV…but now in a TEENY apt…just about 450 sq ft. So not a great lot bigger than your setup. We will see how it goes come winter…when we will not be able to get out for walks as much…but mostly it works fine. We are good friends and companions. Yes, he wears earphones to listen/watch his sci fi movies on his computer. I would not care if he did not…but at least when I am resting, I do prefer quiet. We do not arise and go to bed on the same schedule…but sometimes we do. We do help each other, in ways that were never needed when we were young. He just helped me through oral surgery but soon I think he is headed for back surgery. The part I dread most is driving the car, frankly. Always adjustments in life.

  6. I guess Sue and I are lucky. We adjusted fine to the RV life and never had any issues.

  7. You have no idea what I’d give to have what you and Miss Terry do together.

  8. Boy, do some people live together just to file a joint tax return?

    We are like you Nick…..the lovely wife and I are best friends, except she doesn’t drive the MH, (yet) and we are still working.

  9. Two peas in a pod…what a loving relationship!!

  10. Sounds so familiar.. I liked the way you described the quiet times as comfortable. That is exactly the way i always felt. Living together in the RV, was the best time of our lives..No problem being in a small space..best friends is the key!

  11. another great blog. We are lucky I guess we have always been together since we worked together, and we had no real problem adjusting to living in the MH. We both have our areas to get away from each other even though it is only 6ft apart. Not saying we don’t have our disagreements cause we do. But they never last long and we always know that we love each other. Both of us love doing things together whether it is just sitting and reading or going for a walk. We love this life style and still hope we have a couple of more years that we can do this life style.

  12. We were very fortunate in our 5 years on the road and I am so grateful we had that time together. While I will miss that there were still things my husband had wanted to do, and while we always walked side by side, sometimes it took awhile to walk hand in hand as well, we always managed to work things out. Being on the road actually strengthened our relationship as there were not all different places in a house to “get away” and just refuse to deal with things.

    Nick, we took some of your classes at Life on Wheels and they were such a big help as they covered the quality of life issues that could arise and not just who to call when you got a flat tire or other similar troubles arose.

  13. For us the hardest thing was personal space. I like to spread out with my hobbies and crafts and hubby is a neatnik so it drove him crazy. But we worked it out over time. I try to be neater and he tries not to grumble as much.

  14. I have no opinion

  15. My husband was one of those marathon drivers you talked about Nick. The first winter from Bay City Michigan to Davenport Florida straight through only stopping to go to the bathroom and drinking gallons of coffee to keep himself awake. Then we got there and he slept for two days. So why beat himself and me up just to get there in a hurry and sleep? Going back home in the spring he did pull into a rest area and sleep for four or five hours. The next winter we went to Alabama and he did the same thing. After that I told him no more. He could drive the motorhome and I’d fly down. He has learned over time to slow down a little and enjoy the trip but to him its still a race agains time.

  16. Retirement = half the money and twice the husband. After 6 months I told him to go get another job or move out because he was always underfoot and driving me nuts. No way we could live in an RV more than a weekend at the lake.

  17. Great article and I completely agree about having to like each other. We are best friends and get along just fine in small quarters. (most of the time)

  18. Into our 5th year and still loving the lifestyle. Our “alone” time is often in the evening. He in the living area watching his Westerns, me in the bedroom watching news or reading. As far as what we do and where we go – he wants no part of it. I am the “Nag-a-vator”. He says just point me in the right direction!

  19. Great blog today. We consider ourselves lucky, we went fulltime March 9, 2006 and haven’t regretted it a bit. We did very little planning, just decided we were fed up with our stressful jobs and put the house up for sale. It took 5 months to sell our first new perfectly decorated home. When we drove away all I felt was relief. It was a maintenance burden. The rv is much easier to care for. Since we didn’t plan very well we have to stop every 6 months and volunteer at a state park, that’s ok. We are in our “stop” mode right now and can’t wait until we hit the road December 26 to Tucson for 3 months, then more travel to somewhere! I guess we are best friends because we like to do the same things. We have 2 TV’s so we can watch what we want.

  20. In our 18th year of RV travel and yes, not only are we in love with each other but best friends as well. And we think that’s what makes it work. We have much in common, we like to do similar things when it comes to travel, sightseeing and relaxing. We also have our alone time. I go do the laundry or food shopping and he stays in the RV. Hubby also has ear phones to see shows and webinars on his computer and I have a small DVD player with earphones for movies. I also like to read in the bedroom in the evening while he is out front with his computer. To us the key is having both together time and alone time. Works for us.

  21. Wow NIck. I thought I was back at the Life On Wheels seminar that discussed living in a RV as a couple. I don’t remember the title but they gave a test with a max score of around 25. If you scored over 18 then you would probably succeed as a couple. Anything lower and you need to think about what you are doing. We got a 22. The test was accurate.

    I like that my wife sleeps until 10 to 11 am and I get up at 7 to 8. Gives us both our alone time. It just took me a while to not talk to her for the first 30 minutes to hour.

    Life is great when you embrace your differences.

  22. Beautiful written, Nick! ‘Like’ is often overlooked as a relationship attribute, love only gets you so far. Chris and I too are blessed to have found each other – we’re best friends and partners in life.

    Our slightly offset sleep schedules serve us very well.

  23. My husband and I have worked and played together 24/7 for 29yrs so moving fulltime in to a 21′ 5ver was no problem. We truly are best friends and have never understood why couples need “me” time or guys/girls night out. We got married because we liked being together. Part of liking and loving someone is being able to over look those traits that would drive you nuts from any other person

  24. My husband Tom and I have been full-timing in our 37′ Newmar Dutch Star for 5 years and 55,000 miles, 31 National Parks, countless Corps of Engineers and state parks, months in British Columbia, the Maritimes, and Newfoundland – we are very seldom apart, and almost never have a disagreement. I agree with Nick – you have to like each other, and be comfortable with each others habits. We are very comfortable with long silences, parallel reading/computer time, and we both like the same TV shows. Fortunately neither of us likes to travel more than 200 miles in a day, usually less. We both drive the motorhome and I try to keep our miles about even. Without really even talking about it we’ve hit on a division of labor that suits us both (although Tom thinks I should brush the dog’s teeth sometimes). I think the lessons we learned at the last two years of Life on Wheels, both before we started full-timing, were invaluable. So sorry that it’s no longer available, and that the Gypsy rallies are no more – we only got to attend one, in Celina OH in 2011, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  25. I can relate to both of them. In the first situation, she needs to take the house off from the market. Then tell him she is not ready to full time unless he agrees to at least 6 mo. Of full hook ups at a campground.
    In the second situation I would not argue. Just tell her you will do it in a minute and make the minute stretch out to an hour. After she cleans up the mess in the house, things may change.

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