We had no idea when we set out on our course to live in an RV that our marriage was bound to change. The whole dynamics thing…the closeness (as in space around us), intimacy and dealing with unspoken emotion. What ‘used to be’ is now ‘no longer’. We have become….oh, dare I say….’different’, more pliable and resilient. Even to go as far as saying more than when we were as an Active Duty Military Family for the few decades past.
Rarely do I talk about the intimacies of our marriage. It’s ‘ours’; its the one thing that we keep private because well…no one would ever understand our ‘no soap no radio’ quips to each other or singing in unison, ‘You and me and a dog named Boo…”. No one else would ever get it…or get us. But I did feel compelled to write about how RV life has changed our union.
“Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage”
The last four years of our 35 year marriage has been, in my opinion, our most incredible growing season that I must give credit to living in an RV. Not that it’s because of ‘the RV’ but due to the lifestyle. Even as my husband read this before posting, he will admit, this lifestyle has brought things to the forefront that we simply didn’t address while living in our former McMansion (well, to us it was a McMansion comparing it to our tiny house now). I think its because we were so distracted with life’s measurements of chaotic schedules, stuff and fluff.
Simply put, living in a 360 square foot pretty box on wheels HAD changed us; individually and as a couple, spiritually and emotionally. Never in a million years though, would I have ever thought THIS would be US.
I recently read a blog piece by Camille, a dear RV friend, blogger and business/life coach who truly resonated every facet of what I feel. I’m being really honest here, “this life truly ISN’T for EVERYbody” and I feel the need to convey that to those contemplating this lifestyle.
Let me tell ya, this is WORK!
Camille touched on all the emotional challenges of our “RV Life” and to be quite honest, I was so relieved to read that our experiences weren’t so odd, different or alone in this nomadic lifestyle. Her words resonated much of what we have experienced as individuals and as a couple. She brought up several good points that make us actually laugh but yet, pay more attention to each other, respect each other more and those emotions as a result. (Thank you Camille for digging this one out of my brain to put out in print at 4 a.m. You owe me a nap!)
‘Two objects can’t occupy the same space simultaneously’
Allow me to put this one to rest. OH, YES THEY CAN! At least in an RV, they can and I’m sure every couple out there living full-time in an RV (or boat) will whole-heartedly agree with that sentiment!
Living in tight quarter forces us to share some of those intimacies (oh, sit down…we’re not going to talk about our sex life!) with others of the same suit because we look for validation…but only from others who live a similar lifestyle. Seriously, no one else would understand, but get us all around a campfire with a few brewskis and stories will fly!
But it’s true about the whole space occupation thing. It never fails the when one of us goes to a tiny, two square foot part of the RV, coincidentally, so does the other but for a totally different reason. Same exact time in the same exact space. We both gawk at each other thinking to ourselves, ‘SERIOUSLY?’ while sighing heavily. I’m sure neither of us don’t do it on purpose…or maybe we do?
For example, our bedroom is only so big. I think it’s 8′ x 10′ or something like that. That includes our closet, king-size bed, night stand, small wardrobe and corner sink vanity so that leaves very little walking-around-room. If I go up into our bedroom to change into other clothes, it always seems to be the precise time he needs something out of his man-drawer too. We we pause for a quick moment and look at each other with disdain. Usually one of us growls while the other exits the room with that ‘Oh shit, what have I done now?’ thought (usually it’s him).
This happens often. After four years, we’d think we’d get that part right but I digress.
“WTF are you looking at?”
The floorpan of our fifth wheel includes a kitchen island that divides our RV living space left from the right almost adjacent to his man-recliner he sits in to watch television or reads or watches his favorite RV maintenance YouTubies. While he’s doing ‘whatever he’s doing’, I will be either doing dishes at the island sink or preparing our meal on the counter on either side.
Then, I will look over to him because I feel like I’m being stared at and wouldn’t you know it it, HE IS!. Our eyes would lock for a few seconds without words and then, I’d cock my head and blurt out, “WTF are you looking at?” Of course, we are only playing with each other. We laugh; just one example of how humor keeps our marriage alive.
It’s bound to happen when living in such small confines. I’m not sure RV manufacturer’s floorpan designers planned it that way but it’s just so comical…each…and…e-v-e-r-y…day. Now, I think he stares at me just to get my potty mouth to say it. We never had that playful moment in our McMansion.
But, even though we’ve been married for three and a half decades and supposed to take those as moments of adoration or playfulness of each other, it CAN get a little unnerving and irritating.
So, I’ve learned to actually embrace those moments. When I’m preparing a meal, I will start chopping and throwing stuff around like I’m some chef at a Japanese Benihana. Let’s just say, I’ve sharpened my culinary skills so well to land me a spot on the Food Network channel. When he sees and hears me chopping loudly, he ‘knows’…to STOP STARING. (C’mon, its funny!)
“Quit bothering me!”
We’ve learned to laugh at ourselves and each other more and more. We take ourselves less seriously. We have to. We’ve found each other’s untapped goofiness that I’m not sure we would have found in that 3600 sq. ft. house in Kentucky. We were separated by walls and rooms with great square footage and we always had ‘our space’. In our RV, not so much.
Think about this for a second…
“though we have less distractions, we are more distracted”
What I mean by that is though we have less chaotic fluff and stuff in our RV life (i.e. keeping up with the Jones, endless amount of chores, to-do lists that make the Brady Bunch’s shopping list look like a Bazooka gum wrapper, etc.), we still are distracted by the other and what they’re doing BECAUSE we are living in such tight quarters.
It was until recently when we remodeled the aft half of our RV putting in a home office that we had this huge elephant-in-the-room distracting issue. Unlike in our former McMansion where I had a cool and quiet home office and my own craft studio, I did my contract work at the small dining table that…faced him in his man-recliner.
UH OH! Here we go with that whole “WTF are you looking at” scenario again! While I was trying to concentrate on my work, he’d be talking away about his maintenance schedules, voltage this, amperage that…womp, womp, womp like Charlie Brown’s teacher. After awhile, I’d just give him that ‘pissed off mother look’ (I’m good at that) and boy, he knew. It wasn’t his fault really, because in his mind, I was ‘just typing at the dining table’. The dining table wasn’t associated with ‘work’. We had to fix that. We each needed our space but how?
It didn’t take long for us to reevaluate our living space. We decided to remove the sofa in the back of our RV to create a real bonafide workspace. So now, when he sees the back of my head and hears the tap-tap-tap on my MacBook, he sees the preverbal “quit bothering me!” flashing neon sign. Now, I have cool headphones that I can put on to escape to Kenny, George and Kacey tunes when he starts up with his amperage, voltage, gigawatts, empty the shitter tank conversation with me or…himself.
“Missing our family”
UGH! This is probably one of the biggest downfalls of RV Life however, I’m going to say that even if we ‘didn’t’ RV, we’d still have this issue. We lived in Kentucky but our family was spread out all over tarnation throughout the United States. Mom and some brothers’ families in Pennsylvania, our son and his family in Minnesota, other brother’s family in Virginia and lets not forget our hundreds of shipmates and friends strewn all over the country.
RV Life has actually made it a little more bearable because we plan our adventures around them. But with that though, involves travel and parking logistics such as weather restraints, mileage and of course, finances. We plan. If we can’t take our RV there, we fly. It’s what we do. We agreed that we will always have a credit card bill with flight and rent-a-car charges.
I’m hoping by them reading this that they will know they all ARE very important to us even when we can’t be there.
“Words to the wise but not from the wise”
The point of me sharing this is to show that our life is not all ‘adventure’; tall snow-covered mountains, 10-mile hiking trails and scavenger hunts. It’s so much more than that. Its about finding ourselves in a new way. Its about constant change and resiliency.
It’s about respecting each other’s ‘space’; whether it be personal space or emotional space. It’s about testing our limits; not necessarily physically like hiking up a thousand foot trail in a half-mile. It’s really more about US than the cool places we go to. Its….RV Life.
I hope by any of you reading this that if you’re contemplating this lifestyle, whether its in a tent, an RV, a boat or even in the cab of an 18-wheeler, that you take a good hard look at yourselves as individuals and your relationship to each other because trust me, it’s going to be DIFFERENT!