How to Survive Full-Time RV Life with Your Spouse or Partner

Full-time RVing with your spouse presents a whole different set of marital dynamics than living in a regular home. Dealing with living in such a small space in addition to the stress of constant travel can be taxing on your relationship. But, we’re here to tell that you can survive RV life with your spouse or partner with these tips!

Full-time RVing is a lifestyle, not a perpetual vacation!

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How to Survive Full-Time RV Life with Your Spouse or Partner!

Full-Time RV Couple

Respect

We all should all know by now that one of the most important keys to a successful marriage is RESPECT

Lack of respect is why most marriages fail. We have to remember that marriage or serious relationships are not just about you; nor is it just about your spouse or partner.

We’ve all heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life”. That said, while it may be easier to just roll over just to make your life partner happy, you’re actually disrespecting yourself. 

You both need to respect each other’s wishes, opinions, likes and dislikes. I’m not saying you can’t dislike them, but just appreciate your spouse or partner is as individual as you are. Show your partner how you want to be respected. The reciprocation will come much easier.

Communicate

RV Lifestyle - Talking Couple Communication

Combining full-time RV living with travel presents issues that you both need to prepare for when it comes to communication. 

To survive full-time RV Life with your spouse, it’s super important to take the time to listen and be listened to.

You both need to be as open to discussion as possible; even if it’s about things you really don’t want to talk about. Because if when you allow issues to fester, we know what happens, don’t we? There’s no room for “knock ’em out, drag ’em out” attitudes. Remember, RV walls are mighty thin!

Get those intense discussions out early so you have time throughout the day to think things through and more clearly. And of course, never go to bed unsettled or angry. Not only does that ruin a good sleep but those issues will still be there the minute you both wake up.

Action Results in RE-Action

Because your RV is much smaller, you both need to realize that everything is more pronounced and magnified. Farts, burps, snoring, teeth picking, nose blowing, door slamming and other bad habits are amplified by 100!

So, each of you needs to respect each other by ‘taking it outside’. Or trust me, you’re going to have problems further down the road because there is no place to run in a small RV.

Also, you’ll experience the trials and tribulations of RV ownership. RVs have different utility systems. You WILL run out of propane on a 30 degree night. Your air conditioner WILL break when it’s 90. You WILL eventually have a breakdown. You will be living on a muddy dirt campsite one moment and a posh concrete slab the next. How you both react to those will either make or break the vibe. 

Learn the Dance

Vanlife - Tiny RV Couple

Cohabitating in a small RV is a challenge in itself. And, because space is such a premium, you’ll need to master the dance together. I mean that literally. You’ll both bump into each other, step on toes, try to occupy the same space at the same time. And this, I promise, will cause some serious eye-rolls and frustration. So, you may learn to sit still while the other does their thing and vice versa.

As we transitioned from our 42′ fifth wheel to our 25′ motorhome, we had to learn a whole new dance to living in 160 square feet of space. Being perfectly honest, the first 3 months was daunting! So, we had to learn to work around each other; again, literally.

Especially in a tiny RV, only one of us can be moving about the RV at a time. But if per chance we both need to be hustling around, we learn to dance around each other like Dances with the Stars. Now, three years living in our 25′ motorhome, we pretty much know where the other is going.

I’m not saying it’s going to take that long. But, expect a few lessons (hard lessons!) to get it right.

Give each other space

RV Lifestyle - Give Each Other's Space

RVs get mighty small pretty quick. It’s easy to lose perspective when trying to live in less than a quarter of what you you both are accustomed to. As mentioned earlier, EVERYTHING from attitudes to farts is magnified, amplified and intensified (not necessarily in that order!). So, you need to have some grace and give each other space.

What you may think is a trivial matter, your significant other may think it’s the end of the world. At least one of you needs to keep it all in check.

Neither of you can allow things to fester. I won’t lie, the ‘get out of my face’ is a very real thing. This is precisely why it’s important to give each other space. Each of you will need quiet time to think, pray, grow and just do you. Learn to take walks or go for a bike ride or run when your partner needs a little space.

Privacy in your RV

RV Lifestyle - Privacy Shower

Living full-time in a van or tiny RV, privacy pretty much goes right out the window! There are some things that your partner or you wishes not to be seen or heard. Hence, why there’s a thing called a bathroom door and fantastic fan.

And I’m here to admit, that separation may still not be enough. Just because you’re married, living together or just dating, there’s a certain level of personal privacy that you both deserve.

Expect your travel partner to tell you “please go away for awhile” when they may need or want a little privacy. They (or you) may want private time to chat with their best friend, take a quiet nap or watch their own favorite show. And remember, the door swings both ways. Your travel partner needs to respect your privacy just the same.

Just because you’re married for umpteen million years or been with your partner for a lengthy time doesn’t mean either of you mist give up your privacy. RV life and marriage is about compromising.

Always On Liberty - Living the RV LIFE

Explore together and share new experiences

full-time rving with your spouse - explore and experiences

There’s nothing better than exploring, experiencing and sharing the magnificence of travel together.

Part of your RV lifestyle journey is exploring and experiencing things together. Go ahead and plan a hike or a day of sightseeing. Sign up for a pickle ball class together. Go enjoy a wine tasting or outdoor concert. Visit the National Parks and see the sights.

In other words, make the most of your travel by experiencing it as a couple. That’s not only part of the RV lifestyle but also, a big part of your marital journey.

Full-Time RV with Your Spouse Pro Tip: Want to keep romance alive in your RV without your camping neighbors knowing? Check out How to Have SEX in an RV!

Get some YOU time

Just because you live and travel in an RV doesn’t mean you have to do everything together.

It’s easy to think our spouse will want to do exactly as you want. However, there are going to be some things your travel partner won’t want to do what you enjoy.

For example, Dan enjoys spending time in indoor museums; studying every artifact and reading every placard.

But having the attention span of a teensy fly, I prefer going out and taking photos of anything and everything. So, we each give and take; sometimes separating to enjoy our personal preferences.

It’s totally fine for each of you to have your own interests whether it’s going to watch a chick flick at the movie theater, wanting to play a round of golf or going for a run. Or simply, just to get a little me time.

Read about Our Funny Experience at Roswell, New Mexico!

Take separate vacations

RV Lifestyle - Privacy Time Away

As the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies to full-time RV living as well. Because even though you both may be enjoying all the great experiences and travel, living together in a small RV can affect your marriage.

So, it’s totally okay for her to plan a girls-only weekend away or a guys dude ranch retreat. Find a place to park your RV or caravan; leaving one to hold down the fort while the other takes a little time off away.

And be sure to reciprocate. That little vacation from  RV life will be a breath of fresh air that will strengthen your relationship.

Take a break from RVing

RV Lifestyle - Vacation Away from RV Life

Don’t let your marriage hit that boring road block. Even full-time RV couples need a vacation! Whether it’s just a weekend romantic getaway or a trip across the ocean, you need to take a break from RV life. Because full-time RVing is a lifestyle, similar to living in a sticks and bricks house. 

If you are living full-time in a van or tiny RV like ours, it may be as simple as parking your van in long term parking at an airport or cruise terminal.

But if you and your spouse full-time in a big rig RV, then find a decent RV park to plug into and find someone to make sure it doesn’t burn down. But take that vacation! Because even RV life can get a little mundane.

RV Travel Pro Tip:  Make your getaway plans now for next February with 10 Valentine’s Day Romantic Getaways for Adventure Seekers!

Share the load

RV Lifestyle - Woman Driving RV

To survive RV life with your spouse, it’s important to have your own roles, it’s very important for you and your travel partner to know how to do all of the tasks pertaining to RV living. 

Because there is going to come a time when the tables are turned due to health issues or injury. Or, one of you will have to stay behind while the other has to leave for a family emergency.

Both of you need to know how to dump your tanks, take on water and hook up to electricity.

In other words, don’t wait for an emergency to happen. Or getting stranded or find yourselves in a situation that requires assistance. While it’s important to be proficient in your own roles, it’s equally important to be knowledgeable and able to step in your spouse’s role.

Always On Liberty - RV Hacks Book

Keep a routine

Full-time RV lifestyle may tempt you and your partner to live in spontaneity. However, that will wear your wallet thin. But it will also wear both of you out before you get through your first year. This is why it’s important to keep a routine.

For example, just like in the movie Groundhog Day, we wake up, feed the kitties, make the bed, and make the coffee. Then, while sipping our coffee (we call it our morning coffee date) at the dinette or outside in our camp chairs, we chew the fat or discuss important things. We use our morning coffee date to discuss budgets, itineraries, reservations, Amazon orders to place, travel plans, work, etc. 

Then, we take turns showering and dressing while the other answers emails, makes phone calls, places orders, or whatever other verb that needs to be done. And before we even leave our RV, we make certain the dishes are done and our living space is tidy.

All of that is part of our routine; our constant. It’s what sets the mood of the day. If we detour from it even slightly, it can totally affect what happens in the next 24 hours.

So, as a couple traveling together, it’s important to make your own date; albeit a morning coffee date or five o’clock happy hour. Complete your daily chores before trekking off to your next adventure. By keeping a routine, your full-time RV lifestyle will be enjoyable.

Be Semper Gumby!

As a military family, ‘Semper Gumby’ means ‘always flexible’. And anyone who’s lived the military life knows that we have to roll with the punches to survive the constant changes. We learn to be flexible and bend with the mission or circumstance.

Well, Semper Gumby also applies to full-time RVing. The nomadic lifestyle will take away just as fast it will dish out. Your RV will break down at inopportune times. Sickness will strike when you need to be at your next destination. Your cat will run away, etc. Things will happen on the road that a will leave you feeling vulnerable.

So, it’s important to be Semper Gumby in this lifestyle. Otherwise, you snap or break. And sometimes, there’s no getting that back.

Final thoughts on how to survive full-time RV life with your spouse or significant other

sunset love

We’ve been married for almost 40 years; 9 of which has been as full-time RVers. We still have to work hard to make our marriage work. Coupled with the dynamics of full-time RVing, we admit that sometimes it takes a little more effort to keep our marriage AND relationship intact.

I wouldn’t say we’re experts in marital advice, however, we can share what works for us. Maybe these tips can help you both live your dream together in harmony.

So, our advice is to take the full-time RV lifestyle slow and steady. No doubt, you’re going to veer off course, swerve a little or hit a road block or two. Just keep the lines of communication open, respect each other, learn to dance and learn to be Semper Gumby. You and your spouse or significant other can make it work but only if when you both are in it together. For better for worse, you and your spouse will survive RV Life!

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