A wise friend once advised, “before anyone gets married, they need to do two things together: complete a house renovation project and go on a long road trip.”
Nothing brings out all the quirks, ticks, and annoying habits of your partner like being in a small space together 24/7. Add in a stressful situation like unexpected detours, flat tires, or other road mishaps, and it is fairly easy to find yourself daydreaming about leaving someone on the side of the road.
We asked two RVing couples to share their secrets for marital harmony in tight quarters: Chip and Judy, who have been married 50 years and enjoy months-long adventures through Canada and Alaska in pursuit of rampant fishing, and full-timing friends, Rene and Jim, who have been working together for 20 years and have spent a decade on the road. Here’s what they had to share:
Separate the mob/demob tasks into defined lists.
Call them the Green List and the Purple List, or Fred and Ginger – whatever makes it fun. This way you will get through the stress of setting up and taking down for the next adventure in a methodical, efficient manner. Each of you does the tasks on your list, and allow your partner to do theirs without interfering.
Clutter in a small space becomes old very quickly and can generate unnecessary stress when you cannot locate items you need. Everything needs to have a function and a place, and it needs to go back to that place as soon as it is done being used.
Don’t go there.
Jim says his favorite advice he learned from a couple who had been married for 67 years: “keep your mouth shut.” Judy echos this advice with: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Enough said!
Go with the flow.
Chip and Judy don’t make specific plans, so they are not tied down by external timelines and can enjoy life as it comes to them. Judy recommends spending lots of time outside exploring, fishing, hiking, biking to help alleviate any “Camper Fever”.
Have some alone time.
It is sometimes good to pursue separate interests and activities, even in the confines of a small space or while on the road. Go fishing, on a run, or do something creative like jewelry making to have a little time to yourself. Chip jokingly offers “we go out dancing twice a week. She goes on Monday and Friday, I go on Tuesday and Saturday.”
Acknowledge and appreciate differences.
Judy has found that even though you are doing the same things together, you are each experiencing things from a different perspective. You may interpret, react to, or remember encounters differently. This can either enhance your time together or occasionally cause frustrations.
Laugh through the tough times.
Inevitably you will have moments when you are both ready to melt down. Take some time away from one another and reset your minds with separate activities for a bit. Give each other and the situation space so that you can move forward together.
Rene and Jim use a method called Laughter Yoga, or forced laughter to deal with tricky situations. Not only does it break up tension but it helps couples reconnect so that you can then work towards a solution.
Do you travel with your significant other? What strategies do you have for getting along in a small space?