We had no idea when we set out on our course to live in an RV that our marriage was about 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 more resilient. I dare to say even more than when we were an Active Duty Military Family.
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…”. But I did feel compelled to write about how RV life has changed our marriage…for the better.
“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 biggest growing season and I credit that to living in an RV. Not that it’s because of the RV but more so, the lifestyle. Even my husband admits this lifestyle has brought things to the forefront that we never were addressed while living in our former McMansion. I think its because we were so distracted with life’s chaotic schedules, stuff, fluff and everything in between. And, while I’m no marriage counselor, that may be the reason why so many marriages fail today.
Simply put, living in a 360 square foot box on wheels has changed us spiritually and emotionally; individually and as a couple.
I recently read a blog piece by Camille, my dear friend, blogger and business/life coach who truly resonated every facet of what I feel. I’m being really honest here, “this minimalist life truly isn’t for EVERYbody” and I felt compelled to convey that to those contemplating this lifestyle.
Let me tell ya, this is WORK!
Camille touched on 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 or different in this so-called nomadic lifestyle. Her words also resonated much of what we have experienced, not only as individuals but also as a couple. She brought up several good points that made us put things more into prospective; paying more attention to each other, respecting 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. However, get us all around a campfire with a few brewskis and man, the 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 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, you’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 YouTube videos. While he’s doing whatever-he’s-doing, I would be either doing dishes at the island sink or preparing our meal on the counter on the side closest to his recliner.
Then, I will look over to him because I feel like I’m being stared at and wouldn’t you know it, I WAS! Our eyes would lock for a few seconds and I’d then, cock my head and blurt out, “WTF are you looking at?” Of course, we are only playing with each other. We would laugh and go back to doing what each were doing. This is just one example of how such humor keeps our marriage alive.
I guess its 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 these playful moments in our McMansion.
So, I’ve learned to actually embrace and love those moments. When I’m preparing a meal and notice his stare out of the corner of my eye, I start chopping and throwing stuff around like I’m some chef at a Japanese Benihana putting on a show for him. And, he still stares…but now as if I’m a woman gone mad! (C’mon, its funny!)
“Quit bothering me!”
We’ve learned to laugh more and take ourselves less seriously. We’ve tapped into each other’s goofiness that I’m not sure we would have found in that 3600 sq. ft. McMansion in Kentucky. There, we were separated by walls and large rooms. We always had our own space. But, now in our 350ish square foot RV, yeah…not so much.
“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. endless amount of chores, massive to-do lists, and overflowing calendars, etc.), we still are distracted by the other and what they’re doing because we live in such tight quarters.
It wasn’t 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 our former McMansion where I had a quiet home office and my own craft studio, I had to do my work at our 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 would be 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 and boy, he got the message loud and clear. It wasn’t his fault really, because in his mind, I was just typing at the dining table. He didn’t associate the dining table with work.
We had to fix that. We each needed our own personal space but how?
It didn’t take long for us to reevaluate our living space and fix this issue. 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 don’t bother me flashing neon sign.
Now, I have headphones that I can put Kenny, George and Kacey tunes on when he starts up with his amperage, voltage, gigawatts, empty-the-shitter-tank conversations with himself.
“Missing our family”
UGH! This is probably one of the biggest pitfalls 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 the United States. Dan’s Mom and some of his brothers’ families in Pennsylvania, our son’s 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 easier because we now plan some of our adventures around them. But that involves travel and parking logistics such as seasonal weather restraints, mileage and of course, finances. We have to really 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.
“Words to the wise but not from the wise”
The point of me sharing this is to show that our RV lifestyle is not all adventure; tall snow-covered mountains, 10-mile hiking trails, geocaching and scavenger hunts. It’s so much more than that. Its about finding ourselves in a new light and sharing it. Its constant change and resiliency. Its about making our marriage work in a different way never imagined. Yes, I’d say we work a little harder at it.
It’s also 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…. our RV Life.
So, if you’re contemplating this lifestyle, whether in a tent, an RV, a boat or a cab of an 18-wheeler, take a good, hard look at yourselves as individuals but also your relationship to each other because trust me, your marriage is going to be DIFFERENT!