Learning Series part 3 – Our Relationship
People often ask us what it is like to spend so much time together and to live together in such a small space. Do we not get on each other’s nerves? Isn’t it a challenge?
We’ve sometimes read on other blogs that people never fight or argue in this situation, and that they’re just really happy together all of the time. Well, we think that’s great but we’re not that perfect!
We’re very, very human and we deal with all the little things that everyone deals with at times. Arguments about navigation whilst driving… “Left here! No, now you’ve missed the turn!” Or about being messy… “You left all your stuff lying around again, no wonder you’re always losing things!” Sound familiar? Just the normal stuff!
We love each other and we have great time together, but of course, at times living in a confined space can get challenging. There is very little room to find space and time for yourself. It is virtually impossible to do something quietly without disturbing the other. In terms of living in a house, we’re constantly in the same room together, probably the room only one size up from your box room. And in that space we cook, eat, sleep, drive, live, relax, clean, do chores, and yes, at times we argue.
Every day we have to make decisions together like where do we go next, what will we have for dinner, who walks luna, get chores done together, etc. Even getting dressed and ready in the morning requires some cooperation due to lack of space. All this requires constant communication which at times can get a bit challenging, especially when we’re tired or worse… hangry! We fall into the trap where we think a lot, but we don’t actually say our thoughts out loud and so easily end up with some miscommunication.
Luckily, we don’t have blazing rows, we don’t have shouting matches. But we do bicker and argue, and it’s usually about silly, petty things, and mostly caused by our own little flaws such as a lack of patience in a situation, or the inability to see a situation from someone’s else’s perspective, or having too strong an opinion to consider other options. Hangryness is the worst thing, but also the easiest to fix! Park up, get some coffee on, get some food out! Half an hour later, we’re good as gold!
What we have noticed is that we’re learning to monitor our own behaviour more, trying to keep our own little ‘misdemeanours’ to a minimum so that we can live in better harmony together. Being self-aware is very important in this situation, as we can prevent little tiffs before they even happen.
Learning to give each other space, not physically because that’s not possible, but mentally, is also a great skill. Just being considerate of each other when one of us needs time to ourself or when one needs to let off some steam or energy. Giving each other space to be simply ourselves in every way, whether that’s in a loud, noisy, annoying way which may be disturbing the other, or in a very quiet, still way. Either way, it’s ok.
An important part of this is having the time and space available to give each other space, which we’re getting more of now that we’ve slowed down, as per Part 2 in this series. Slowing down our travel pace gives us time and space to do our own things more. Maybe one of us goes out to do photography, while the other does a bit of sightseeing, but we won’t feel like we’re missing out on doing things together as we’re in one place long enough to do things together and separately.
Another thing that has changed is that we’re dealing with situations that in our old life could lead to an argument, with humour. We’re changing our standard responses to when our ‘buttons get pressed’ to a humorous response and suddenly the issue isn’t really an issue anymore and instead of an argument, we’re having a laugh. This is making our relationship stronger. Taking things, and ourselves, less seriously is so important in life anyway, and for our relationship, in this situation, it’s great to be able to laugh about stuff together, even if that stuff might hit a nerve with us sometimes.
We’re committed to each other, and we’ve always said that we’d change course if ever one of us really isn’t happy with the direction our life is going in. As such, we’re also committed to facing challenges together which in turn helps us work through any problems we might face. Kindness is key, patience is a virtue.
Realistic expectations in everything we do, and of each other, and knowing each well, also makes a big difference. Privacy and space are minimal, so much so, that sometimes it can feel like situations that might happen when living in a house over 25 years, you experience within 6 months in a van. We’ve joked before that the challenges of 25 years of marriage can be experienced in 6 months in a van, and in some ways it’s true.
Working through all of the above and continuing to do so, we’re sure our relationship will only go from strength to strength We’ll always be flawed creatures, but maybe, in 20 years, we can say that we never, ever have a cross word while travelling in a motorhome…