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!
31 Replies to “The Part of RV Life No One Talks About”
I feel like we’re in a snow globe and someone just shook it. Lol. We’ve been doing this for a year and we’re still trying to figure it out. Having an 11 yr old with us has made it more challenging. However, we wouldn’t change it for anything. So we’ll keep growing and hopefully some day we’ll figure it out and life will get a little more peaceful. Lol
Christine, I like that snow globe comparison. It does feel like that, doesn’t it? It makes our hearts smile to see you’ve taken your child out there to explore all that they can while they are still open and receptive to it. Looking back, they will think it was the best time and will be grateful for it as they mature. Don’t forget to enter our contest on our Always On Liberty Facebook page (currently going on 6/22/18 to 7/5/18). We’d love to get your submission of your child ‘outside exploring’. Safe travels to you all!
Christine- we are also doing this with a child and a great dane…we decided to do online school this year with my child, it is a little different for us because we (my husband and I only see each other every other week and on weekends we are at our main house. I have a lot of health issues so i have to be back in the city with my doctors.the weeks i don’t have doctor visits we are RVing with my husband who runs a construction company.
My wife and I are just about to start a RV life and we have been shopping we see a lot of 5th wheels with bunks and we don’t need them but I am thinking more about getting one and at least taking out the bottom bunk and making a craft area for my wife your story have helped me with that decision. Thank you
Oooooooooh, make sure you take ‘same angle’ before and after pics! We’d love to see it! What kind of crafts does your wife create? Being a crafter myself, this got my heart thumping. Don’t rule out the RV’s with the extra bathroom that you can take out and put in a little workstation. Hope to see your completion soon. We’re excited for you both! -Lisa & Dan
We bought the Montana 3950BR. It is perfect for my crafting and office. It has a separate room (with a door) that can be closed off when not in use (or when DH doesn’t want to look at my mess). It doesn’t take away as much space as a toy hauler.
Love this! My husband and I are embarking on this adventure in about a year so I’m trying to find everything I can to read to be prepared at least a little. We are also retired military with family every where. So excited for this new adventure.
Thats amazing that you’re going to do the same thing! Having been doing this for 4 years ourselves, if it weren’t for others who we followed their lead, we’d be lost. I hope our tips, campground reviews, RV modifications, destinations, etc. are all helpful to you. Let us know when you hit the road and what you decide on for an RV. Best wishes!! – Dan & Lisa
Amazing story! My husband and I have had our stints with living in close quarters – 6 yrs in an 18 wheeler (pulled oversize loads and I drove a pilot car) that included 5 yrs in a fifth wheel trailer when we were ‘home’, (it felt like a mansion!). We’re retired now, have a house, but have missed the close quarters to the point that we have bought a travel trailer. We throughly enjoy being together – true soul mates.
Advice? You have to be very best friends, be able to talk about anything and everything, compliment each other in all endeavors, share the workload…and last….love each other as if it’s your last day on earth!
We are in the process of selling everything and moving into our class C with our two boys, ages 10 & 6. I was happy to read that you feel this lifestyle has allowed your marriage to grow and change in good ways! My husband is my best friend and while I’m sure there will be bumps in the road as we figure it all out, I’m encouraged to think of what we are giving to our selves and our children by being brave enough to make a dream happen!
Love your observations. My husband and I have moved into our new 5th wheel in June full time. Off loaded our home. And a few things remain in storage. I am recently retired. While the Hubble works until end of year. Then we are off traveling. At times we both feel like our life is a snow globe and someone just shook it. Crazy but good. And it’s so true about space and finding us both in one area at the exact same moment… after 42 years married., you’d think we were good, but. Its growing pains all over again…… loving it!
We started our FT life Feb 2017. We opted for a fifth wheel with a front living plan. This floorplan allows for some separate spaces and living. We removed the dining table and replaced with two desks side by side. I can be in the kitchen and he can be in the “office” or upstairs in the living room. We have a w/d closet in the rear in the bedroom. I tell everyone we have a LR, kitchen, office, bath, BR, and laundry! I cannot imagine ever going back to our oversized suburban home.
I think I saw a cat bed/or two..how is it working for you having the pet/pets? Wondered how you deal with litter box/outdoor walking etc. Thank you.
HI Susan, our kitties are doing great. Krissie has some health issues but we keep her comfortable as she seems to be aging faster than Kandi. You can read more of our pet blog posts for RVers —–> How to RV with Cats…and survive!
Love the info & the humor in this. We are planning on the full time RV lifestyle in about 4 years., but for now we are weekend warriors. We are retired military and the kids aren’t local to us, 4-5 hour drive and use those trips for vacation. Once we’re full time, we may actually see them more. We’re excited for the adventure and will keep with yours to get future tips.
My husband and I drive 18 wheelers and I don’t know if you’ve ever been in one but it’s TIGHT quarters!! We left 3 days after our wedding and was out for 18 months before we were ready for a change. We came home to our 750 square foot “tiny house” and it seemed huge, now it’s getting small again lol. Loved your blog, happy trails to you both!!!
Thank you so much for your story. I was going to do this with my husband that was a disabled veteran (Marine). We had plans to buy a toy hauler and use the extra space (since we had no toys) for my craft and work space. I promised him that I would do this no matter what so this time next year I will be hitting the road. I was extremely nervous but after reading your posts the fear has turned into excitement. Thanks again.
Been married 31 years; full-timers 34 days. We hit our low point 3 days ago when he said “I feel like I’m walking on pins & needles!” and I retorted the same comment. That night I came to realize my ex-teacher talk of making rules about when we get ready to go somewhere was driving my neat but anti-“rules” husband absolutely nuts. After laughing with our homeowner friends about it that night, we both lightened up and enjoyed a very pleasant weekend together. Also, as a woman who likes to cook and tend the nest, I realized the truth that our RV is not our “new house” — it’s a vehicle that will transport us to our next destination for as long as we feel led to move about.
Thank you all.
Wife & I love RVing…on 3rd RV. Curious about full-timing…more me than Linda. Retired military & defense contractor (37 years), 9 kids all raised, 26 grandkids, & 2 traveling TERRIERists.
Hi Marc!@ Thank you for following! WOW! You guys have been BUSY!! Makes life interesting, huh? Keep on doing what your doing and enjoy your travels! Enjoy the ride! -Lisa & Dan
My Fiancé and I are on the road now 3 weeks to travel the US. We are in a 20 ft hybrid. There is little storage, thus our stuff is getting very mixed up! We are pretty flexible but have learned to take turns on the plans, be understanding, and take some time out of the camper doing some things independently. All our phone calls are now conference calls…thank God for texting…lol. I am so lucky to be sharing this experience with my best friend!
Love this! My husband and I have now lived in our Camper for 15 months. We have a 31 foot Forest River Rockwood travel trailer. It’s about 250 sq ft. We live in Kentucky also! We love it! It’s just us and our two cats. We married in April 2017 and moved into camper August 2017. Couldn’t agree more with how it has made our marriage better. We laugh all day long and no secrets between us. LOL Thank you so much for writing this article. And good luck with your adventures!
Hi Christa, it looks like you’re making your tiny life work just fine! Its one of those things that if you want it bad enough, you’ll make it work. We all have our little faults but at the end of each day, we’re grateful for what is in front of us and thankful what is now our past as it has taught us resiliency and appreciation. Keep doing what you’re doing! -Lisa & Dan
We have lived in our 5th wheelfor a year now . I has been an adventure . We were used to staying just on weekends and when my husband got sick we moved it next to our daughters house . i miss the bigger house and the little things you have no room for. But it has been better less upkeep.
tonie, thank you for reading of our experiences. I’ll be the first to admit that the transition to RV life from a 3600 square foot home was difficult but after a few months, I didn’t miss our big home and all that went with it. I’m more comfortable in smaller living but with a huge backyard in our travels. We all have our own choosing. You have to find what works for you and makes you happy. Best wishes and hope your husband is feeling better. -Lisa & Dan
I love your posts! You crack me up! This is my first saved post and I’m going to follow you on Pinterest. I’m so glad to hear of a couple out there who can be real with each other and not hold a grudge. Your positive attitudes are the key to happiness together.
My roommate and I are retired, less than a year for me. He went off and toodled around the western USA in his little Mazda with a camper shell for several summer trips over the last couple years. We’ve lived together here in my 1000′ stick house for over 3 years but we just don’t see each other that often. We both enjoy being ALONE, so when I retired earlier this year, we took off for a five-state wander in my Dakota with a camper shell. He used his tent because we’re just not that… together. LOL It was a blast! Neither of us is all that fond of cold so we’ll keep the stick house and just go on forays to wild areas, where we like to run trails and enjoy nature.
What an amazing adventure, Nikki!! You’re right, sometimes the best journeys are such as you described. You still can be together but separate at the same time. I applaud your honesty to still be able to travel together but admit that it won’t work in one camper. Your adventures, your journey, your rules! Please be safe in wherever your journey takes you. -Lisa & Dan
My son, his wife, 3 kids ages 8, 10 and 11 gutted an older RV and sold their house. They, along with two saint benards and a cat, will be living in the RV traveling across the US preaching, singing and sharing their faith. I , grandma, am excited for them and worried all at the same time. Their lifestyle will only be funded by pledges and donations to their ministry. The kids will be doing something called travel school. They are involved in a Christian motorcycle club that supports them and will provide housing occasionally. Any advice for them? For me to calm down and trust they’ll be ok? Lol Thank you Cindy
Hi Cindy, how awesome it is that they didn’t opt to live their lives as others deem they should. There are several resources for remote work out there. Have them check out my friend, Camille Attell from More Than a Wheelin’. She’s a fantastic Remote Work Coach who can put them in the direction of finding work while on the road and in between their primary reason for travel. Also, tell them to join Full-Time Families – a large online group of families who help each other with roadschooling and travel with kids of all ages. They’ll be fine, Mom. We know several families who do just great on the road. Their experiences and learnings will make them richer in education and in spirit. Trust that God will guide them. -Lisa
Enjoyed this article and your other posts. My husband has recently semi retired and now works remotely part time. Our residences now include a 40 ft toy hauler and a 520 sq ft cabin. We too are learning to adjust to all the “togetherness” but loving every minute of it.
Hi, Lisa. I am an experienced RVer, having had a Class C, a motor home and then downsizing to a trailer when I turned 69. I traveled with my work and, after getting artificial knees in 2003, this was the easiest way for me to travel. When I retired two months shy of 72, I thought I would never want to leave home again, but I find myself now wanting to do full time RV living for pleasure. My happiest times were at an campground in Kentucky. What I’m trying to decide now is what type of RV would be best for me. I have health issues but the primary one to deal with in RVing is problems with my legs. If bad weather such as tornadoes made a fairly quick move necessary, I would have a bit more trouble packing up to go than some people. Since I don’t mind living in a small space at all, I’m thinking about a Class C or a van conversion. Not having wheels makes those a problem though, unless I want to tow a vehicle which I don’t. I have also thought about pulling an A frame unit or something similar but I really don’t know which would be best. Have you seen or heard from any handicapped people and can you give me any ideas of what I need to consider now that I didn’t have to before. I’m 78 but I will tell you that I have a button that describes me best. It reads: “Cleverly disguised as a Responsible Adult”. Life is too short to be totally grown up all the time. I’m an unapologetic Christian but people are often amazed at how much fun we can have! Thanks, Lucy