Getting along – Pointers for a great RV partnership

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By Greg Illes

It is said that wherever your relationship is going, traveling together in an RV will take it there sooner. Here are some thoughts and pointers for traveling (and living) in close quarters with your loved one.

“Right” and “Wrong” — get rid of them

Does your brain work like this: “If I think one thing, and somebody else thinks differently — well, then, if I am right they must be wrong.” Ain’t necessarily so. Two people can be very different, and both can be right. Remember that old “I’m OK — You’re OK” book? Same idea. Blame, hurt, guilt — these are all part of being wrong, and they should not be part of your RV cargo.

You can’t fix the other guy

Remember how hard it was for you to change something in yourself that you really wanted to change (quitting smoking, fear of snakes, whatever)? Imagine if someone was demanding you change. Now imagine how difficult it would be to force a change in someone else who doesn’t even want to change. Let’s face it — we can barely, sometimes, make small fixes to ourselves. There’s just no way we can fix the other person. Let’s not try.

Are you a partner or a dependent?

Are you more concerned about loving your partner well or that your partner loves you? When you disagree, are you more concerned for your partner’s welfare or your own? Who would you rather turn out to be right? (There’s that word again.) Look for ways to care more about your partner than you care what he/she thinks of you.

Make it “their” choice

When you know they’re wrong (there’s that word again), and you know exactly how they can fix it, and you just can’t keep your mouth shut (this happens to us all) — give them the choice — really, give it to them. Be fully okay with what they decide. Try using a question instead of a command: “Do you think it would work better if you tried this?” instead of, “You should really do this thing this way.”

Nobody is (or can be) perfect

We’ve heard this so often that we no longer listen. All of us are riddled with imperfections. We’ll never fix them all — so let’s concentrate on the serious issues and let the petty stuff slide. Ask yourself: Is this really a serious issue with your partner? Be honest.

Right things are done for right reasons

A fundamental truth: Every human on earth makes the best decision they can at every moment of their lives. Sometimes they base decisions on horribly flawed data or dismally bad influences, and very poor decisions result. But those crummy decisions are the result of the information worked with, not any intrinsic failing of the person.

Respect is the cornerstone

Love is mercurial, capricious, magical and maddening. Respect, on the other hand, is foundational, heartfelt and lasting. Know, deeply, that your companion is being the best person possible. Respect them for that and help them — cooperatively, gently, supportively — in any way you can.

Can you wait?

In relationships, patience is a huge virtue. Today’s insufferable torture can well be tomorrow’s minor annoyance. Today’s steadfast refusal to change drifts into a bemused “we’ll see” later in the week. Moods and attitudes do change — even your own.

What do you really want?

Be honest with yourself. A “want” can be a must-have or a nice-to-have. Try to place as many as possible in the nice-to-have category, because this enables that “choice” for your partner. A must-have is a non-negotiable demand and should be used rarely if at all. So what if you are presented with a must-have? A refusal puts you both in the rock-and-a-hard-place scenario — not good. How about a more flexible, “I really, really want this (grin)” or “Well, let’s talk about it (wink),” as a starting point.

Negotiate for fun, but not for love

Approval, respect, love — these are not for sale. “I’ll do the dishes, you take out the trash” is fine. But approval, disapproval, love or shame should not be involved. Every partnership is a compendium of trade-offs. Make them cheerfully. If you love and respect your partner, you will not be concerned about getting the best of the deal; in fact, you’ll try to give them the advantage — because they are worth it.

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.

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Brian Holmes
6 days ago

most will agree that this is typically a one sided conversation or decision, just read the comments.

Elaine
7 days ago

I absolutely LOVED what Greg said — and maybe it means even more because it comes from a male person to this overly critical female person. And in these terrible times — it brought comfort to my sometimes tortured mind. THANK YOU GREG

Gene Bjerke
7 days ago

My wife is a pessimist, I am an optimist. She immediately comes up with the worst case scenario, while I tend toward the best case. Does that make for problems? No, we moderate each other toward what is probably the best solution. A simple example: we were about to drive to my brother’s house in a neighboring state. I estimated that it would take about five hours, she thought it would take seven. As it turned out, it took six. That’s pretty much the way things work out for us.

BadWolfe
7 days ago

I’ll offer one: Almost all views are correct. This one comes from an analogy of “There are 12 ways to solve a problem, and only one of them is wrong”. So, we all strive for the most optimum solution, but any of the other 11 ways will still work. Most of the time I hear people argue over their view being “Right or Wrong”, yet almost always, both are actually valid viewpoints. My personal problem is that my wife almost ALWAYS finds the optimum one before me… (he says with a smile)

everest gal
7 days ago

great article and fantastic relationship advice. my “non-negotiable” list, when I really come down to it, is not more than a handful of items. everything else, it’s things to “play” with!!

Roger
7 days ago

Wonderful advice. The one that changed my life years ago was finally getting it through my thick skull that “You can’t fix the other guy”. So many positive things flow from that.

Neal Davis
8 days ago

Excellent! Thank you!

Wanderings
8 days ago

Really great article!

Eldon
8 days ago

Very well said! All good points!

Bob
8 days ago

The timing of this article is impeccable! I will make this my new screensaver.

Peter McDonald
8 days ago

Well that is a lot to contemplate! Thanks for writing that down. It’s good to have those reminders!