Do you think you and your spouse or partner can live together 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a few hundred square feet of space? Put that way, it seems daunting. Yet thousands do so happily in an RV.
Consider that for many of these couples, one or both have been working and out of the house for years until right before they took off together in their RV. So they’ll have two adjustments. Not only must they adjust to living in a tiny space, they must adjust to living together constantly. Either one can be a big adjustment. Adjusting to both together can strain the relationship. A little knowledge and planning can ease the way into all this togetherness.
At first, full-time RVing may seem like you are on vacation. But as the days pass, it may feel like too much togetherness when you live together 24/7. How do you cope? Here are some suggestions from other RVers who have successfully lived the full-time life.
Here are 10 techniques you can use when you live together 24/7:
1. Personal space: Have your own bit of space, however tiny. You might stake out a certain place to sit in the evenings or a place to work on crafts or hobbies. Claim a cupboard or bin underneath for the things you like to do: read, carve, bead, knit. Do not go into your spouse’s cupboard without permission.
2. A retreat: The bedroom or perhaps a corner can be a “retreat” for whomever is needing a little “space.” If one of you heads to the bedroom, you can say something to the other, or the other should ask permission to enter. Using the bedroom as personal space shouldn’t, however, interfere with the other’s bedtime.
3. Different bedtimes: One spouse may already stay up a little later or wake up earlier. This gives the other a little “alone” time.
4. Marriage saver: Whoever watches TV alone should use headphones. The same goes for music unless both people want to listen. When one partner wears headphones, both feel a sense of privacy.
5. Solo activities: Do some activities by yourself. You may be traveling in close quarters but that doesn’t mean you have to be joined at the hip and do everything together. Walking, biking, walking the dog, shopping, rig maintenance can be done alone. Go to a movie by yourself.
6. Go off for a day on your own. Kay Peterson, one of the founders of the Escapees RV Club, said when she was feeling like she needed some space, she would tell her husband she needed a “Kay day.” She might go to the library or walk around a mall — something on her own. It didn’t need to involve spending money, just some time away. Invariably these days were renewing and she had things to share with her husband.
7. Get involved: If you are staying at an RV park or resort, check to see if there are any activities going on in the park or community that might interest you. Invite your neighbors over for coffee or an afternoon snack. If you’ll be there several days, you could organize a get-together to work on a hobby like writing, beading or quilting. Men can meet other men by raising the hood of their truck or motorhome.
8. Find friends: Join an RV club or interest group within it so you can have individual friends as well as couples who are friends. Working or volunteering on the road can give you time doing your own thing plus the chance to interact with others.
9. Recognize stress: Recognize when you are feeling stressed. Packing up and changing locations every day or often can be stressful. Schedule some days to putter around and for rest and relaxation.
10. Communicate better: Improve your communication skills. Here are two techniques. One is to argue by the numbers. When you have a difference of opinion, state how important it is on a scale of one to ten. Often an item is very important to one and not to the other, so that makes the decision easy. If you both rank a difference of opinion high, then negotiate: Many decisions will become non-issues. The other is to designate one day a week for disagreeing with each other — say Tuesday. And, you can’t write anything down! On Tuesday, discuss any of the issues that you still remember!
Most couples are closer to each other and are better friends for RVing together. The pressure of life can be too difficult for some, however, and end a marriage. It’s more likely the couple would return to a more conventional lifestyle where they have more physical space and their own activities.
If you recognize your needs and those of your partner for personal physical and psychological space now and then, you can enjoy the 24/7 lifestyle. Keep in mind that your partner may need more or less space than you do. Each must take responsibility for themselves and find ways to meet their needs. Always keep in mind not to take your partner’s genuine need as a personal affront to you or your relationship.
This article first appeared on RVbasics.com.