Getting Along With Your Significant Other In An RV
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 meltdown. 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?
Jerry Segers says
Working together starts before the trip with Deb and I.
1 – Organize the entirety of the equipment for ease of use and convenience. Make a place for all the tools, and other things needed outside the rig in outside compartments. Make a space inside for clothes, cooking equipment , etc. Strive to keep everything in the place where it goes. If it has no place then there is no reason to have it. This alone relieves a lot of stress.
2 – Let each person do what they do best. I am much better at checking the engine, tires, and outside items. Deb is better at cooking and inside items. I have a really hard time navigating, but Deb loves to navigate and does an excellent job.
3 – Take turns and do not get tired out. Deb and I take turns driving. One hour each and we do not like to travel more than 4 hours per day. When you are tired it is too easy to get irritated and lash out.
4 -Eat regularly. It is hard to keep from feeling angry and frustrated when you are hungry. Just think about what happens to a child when they get hungry. Adults are the same way. Keep snacks on board and plenty of fluids so you can take care of the hunger when you can’t stop for a meal.
5 – Above all have fun, make each other laugh every day and be sure to enjoy some smuggle time each night.
TC Wait says
Great advice Jerry! Thanks!
I agree we do the same!
We have been married 40 yrs and have been full time rvers for 10 months. We still finish each other’s sentences and laugh at our mistakes. We love each others company and we can find alone time while sitting next to each other.
Jesse Strong says
After spending a year living with my husband and dog in a tiny teardrop camper, I can say you have some good advice here.
I found that I needed a lot more “me time” than I expected. I kept a journal for the first time in over 20 years and it was a great way to wind down before bed and spend some time with myself. We listened to a lot of podcasts and had a nightly ritual of listening to a podcast together – this gave us a bit of a routine and also something outside of the trip that we could talk about and share.
I really related to the tip about sharing experiences, but also experiencing things differently. I am pretty easily awed and get super excited about a beautiful sunset or finding a new wildflower and my husband just doesn’t have that same level of enthusiasm. I just have to remind myself that he gets excited about things that I find boring as well.
Living in the road together isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
My long time companion and best friend introduced me to Rving about 13 years ago…
We have traveled all over California, Nevada, Utah, Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington!
Our secret to keeping sane and psychologically balanced with one another on these long trips is, to respect one another’s SPACE”..
Bob Seversonan says
RVing cost me my marriage. My wife and I are now divorced.
TC Wait says
Sorry to hear that Bob.
Bob Seversonan says
Don’t be sorry…..Good Riddance to bad rubbish
John C Gerrard says
“be sure to enjoy some smuggle time each night”.
I like that idea. What are you smuggling.
Tom Hall says
And shower together in the coin operated showers..
Yep, I always get the last word in with my Wife, “Yes Dear…”
frank fish says
IIf you like spicy foods, this may be a help…..
Patti Panuccio says
Spend some time together 24/7 before you go. My late husband and I spent 20 years working together sometimes we were full-time some time working out of our home base. The odd times that we couldn’t work together were the most stressful. I kissed a lot of frogs before I could find someone that was compatible.
Long trips in small spaces can bring you closer or —/. It’s okay to say, “ I’m tired, hungry, or whatever as long as you are honest and gentle.” Be prepared for an answer you may not want to hear, but actively listen to the other person. Never end a day in disagreement, be ready to compromise as long as it is not a life safety issue. Smile and tell your partner how much you enjoy their company.
“Don’t Go There”
Make sure you both agree on the precise definition of the word “nice”.
It’s sad if one spouse’s desire to RV, camp, explore & etc. and the other partner’s lack of interest leads to a divorce. In my marriage, I’ve had to content myself with doing my camping and trailering alone. However, that does not mean I am bitter with my wife, or we have to separate. I’m not on a pedestal to criticize anyone who has had to make a decision like that. But in our marriage, of 46 years, what has worked for us, anyway, is a couple of things. First, my wife who handles our finances (she has the aptitude, I don’t) allows me reasonable leeway in spending money on my 12 foot “rescue” 1969 travel trailer I camp in, and any needs my ’02 Durango tow vehicle needs (It’s a Dodge, an old one, so it always needs something). Plus spending money on various camping doodads, gizmos, fishing poles, and etc. I give her freedom to pursue her interests, which are always reading a good book, sewing, shopping (especially for clothing for the grandkids or the children’s church kids whose families are struggling financially, planning children church lessons (she’s a retired school teacher)). The point is we learned to quit bothering each other for not having the same interests. I support her children’s church team, and she releases me to my outdoorsy interests. We have had vacations where each of us took turns supporting the other’s interests on one day and the other’s interests on the next. One time, for example, in Show Low- Pinetop, AZ, I spent the day perusing antique stores with her, then the next she sat in the back of the kayak paddling for me so I could fool with learning how to fly cast. The rest of that vacation was similar. Also, Bob who hosts and writes cheaprvliving.com, had a good article on how to handle it if your spouse or close friend doesn’t share your desire to long-term RV or live on the road.
PJ Giammaria says
Just a reminder… In a confined space you can’t stay mad long or it will be a terrible part of the trip. I get upset when I can’t get satellite signal and we both get crazy when we can’t get internet or it is slow. We both still work when on road. You have to learn that it’s not always going to be your way or your significant other’s way. You have to learn to adapt…
Floyd and Janet says
We have a great working system. My wife controls everything indoors (making beds, cleaning, etc) and I control everything outdoors (hitching, setting up – taking down, sewer). Works great. BTW, all cooking is outdoors.
David Abbott says
Good advice is hard to follow. Respect each other first and foremost. Currently I am working in very extreme Humid weather. Our third work camp gig did not work out after 2 years so I voted to make a change. I feel the need to check myself every day. My issue may not be your issue and it may not be the end of the world. Love and laugh when you can.