24 x 7 x 100 Days of Living Together

Before we left on the trip, I was sharing our plans with a girlfriend who said “Wow, that sounds fantastic!  But how can you spend that much time with one person in an RV?  Won’t you drive each other nuts?”

This was a bit of a worry for Timm and I as we contemplated living together in a space smaller than many people’s walk-in closet.  Not only would we live in a tiny space, but we’d be together virtually 24 x 7, hiking, driving and camping.  We have a loving, peaceful and balanced relationship and we didn’t want “the trip of a lifetime” to destroy it.  Both of us agreed that if we ruined our relationship in the process, this trip would be the biggest mistake of our lives.

Our adventure began 100 days ago

To ensure we kept focus on this vitally important aspect of our lives, we set a goal of being “more in love after the trip than before.” OK, that was my goal! Timm’s goal was more realistic which was to be “as in love.” Heck, I just thought I’d aim really high so the fall-back position would be “as in love” and nowhere near the worst case scenario.

Tomorrow is the 100th day of our trip and I’m happy to convey that we are still very much in love and very happy to be together in this tiny RV.  But it has not been without thoughtful modification along the way.  And the adjustments together and as individuals are certainly not over.  Here are the top 5 things we’ve learned so far about living 24 x 7 x 100 days together.

5. Choose to be in a good mood.  One of the first thing we noticed is how easily one of our moods can affect the other. If one of us was unhappy for any reason, it was nearly impossible to not drag the other person down.  Wanting to cherish every moment of this trip, I made a resolution: “No more grumpy days in 2012.” Timm has followed this approach as well and this resolution has held for both of us ever since.

Hiking together on our 20th anniversary in Death Valley

4. Give peace a chance.  Timm and I are very compatible, yet we’re obviously different people with different ways of approaching the same thing.  Neither way is wrong, just different, so we’ve both made conscious adjustments to accommodate each other.  For example, Timm is more patient and I’m more action oriented.  Timm has adjusted to my style when I feel a sense of urgency to address some issue or task at hand.  In another example, Timm follows rules more explicitly than I do (I think of them more as guidelines!).  I have adjusted to following the rules too, such as abiding more closely to the “dogs must be on a leash”  rule. We’ve found that accommodating the other person’s style is far better than repeated minor conflict that accumulates and can create permanent resentment.

3. Give each other space.  Timm needs more space than I do as he’s a pretty strong introvert. We try to get him some “Timm time” so he can recharge his batteries.  Often, I’ll take the dogs for a long walk or I’ll go do laundry so I can “get out of the house” for a little while. As another example, tomorrow, Timm is going to tour the Minute Man missal silo by himself, something he will enjoy that I’m only partially interested in.

2. Don’t pick at the little things.  When you live with someone 24 x 7, it’s easy to fall into being critical over really meaningless things.  Maybe Timm doesn’t hang the towel up the way I do or I prefer to leave the cargo holds unlocked when we’re in the RV and Timm would prefer them to be locked.  These things don’t matter at all, not one bit, in the grand scheme of life and love.  Unless it’s really important, let it go.  Better yet, accept that the other person’s way has just as much merit, maybe even more, than your own.

1. Remember to cherish being together.  In our old lives, Timm would greet me at the door every night when I’d come home from work. He’d give me a long hug and say “Best 10 seconds of my day.” Now, we’re together nearly constantly so there is no opportunity to miss each other. We compensate for this lack of separation by being attentive and sensitive to each other’s needs.  We work hard to not take the other person’s presence for granted and remember what it would be like to instead, take this journey alone.

Hiking together in the Badlands

Last night, Timm and I enjoyed an enchanted evening at our campsite in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. It was just me, Timm and the dogs, surrounded by the sounds, smells and sights of a place of beauty and peace.  It was a night I hope to remember for many years and relive with Timm in our memories, my partner in this journey and my forever love.

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