Note: This is a blog post I dusted off and updated because it talks about something I hear often from new or want to be RVers.
If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked us how we managed 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 knitting, 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?
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 off 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. My buddy 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 is also necessary 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.
Thought For The Day – Friendship in marriage is the spark that lights an everlasting flame.