One of the most-often-asked questions of me from non-fulltime RVers is “how do you stand being that close to your husband all the time?” John and I have shared life in the three-hundred-foot fifth wheel trailer that we affectionately call “The Jazz” for over three years. In fact, we started out with two human adults and two dog children. Now it’s just John and me and our cavalier spaniel Gingee.
I have to admit that my response historically fit whatever was happening between John and me on any given day. One day it might have been “Oh it is not easy!” Another day it was “It really is quite comfortable.”
After more than three years of fulltime experience living this way, I have decided to seriously consider and answer the question. Here’s my list of how to have a successful relationship with another human being while living in a small space.
1. It helps greatly to spend the majority of time in an inspiring environment. For us that equals being surrounded by nature with lots of places to walk right outside our front door.
2. Luckily both of us like a reasonably neat and clean environment. There is a place for everything and usually we try to keep everything in its place. This makes our small home feel efficient and spacious. We do bicker at times over things like how often to mop floors, clean carpets or wash windows. I’m usually more relaxed than my partner about these things but I have learned to simply set a schedule for doing these things, communicate the schedule and then try our best to let it go and live with the condition knowing that it will be attended to within a reasonable amount of time.
3. We have been very good at allowing one another space and time to do things that we enjoy doing inside the trailer. For me that means spreading out for hours on the dinette table to do an art project with very little interruption or disturbance.
For John space means having chunks of time and freedom to watch This Old House and other such shows (that I’m not particularly fond of) with the volume as loud as he needs to have it and with no complaints from me.
4. Both of us have regular outside or away-from-the-trailer activities that we like to do on our own. That gives the other regular doses of healing time at home alone. I go to visit friends when we are in an area close to friends. John likes spending a few hours just browsing around Home Depot with Gingee in his cart. Whereas we use to grocery shop together when we lived in a stick and brick house, now I grocery shop alone.
5. John and I share many similar interests, like exploring new places together, going out to eat or eating a meal at home that we both helped to prepare, watching romantic or any other type comedy on our nice HD flat screen TV, visiting with new people that we meet during our travels, walking our dog, and listening to music together from Pandora while we each work on our laptop or at our own interest.
6. Keeping the same bedtime as the other helps us both by creating the optimal sleep conditions of having a quiet, lights-out environment.
7. We try to share the burden of trailer, dog and financial management upkeep as equally and equitably as we possibly can.
8. After twenty-five years together, we still have to work at times to say what may be bothering one of us and earnestly and compassionately try to understand the other. Keeping unresolved conflict periods as short as possible works best. Minutes instead of hours. An hour instead of a day. One day rather than a week.
9. I try to remember often to have fun and to remind us that fun is definitely where it’s at in this life.
10. Support one another’s connections with friends and family members especially while traveling far away from loved ones.
This is how we survive in our small space and indeed it is how we flourish in this fulltime-RV lifetstyle that we have chosen. I wonder if John’s list would be the same or similar to mine? Maybe I’ll interview him. What works for those of you already living the lifestyle?