How We Avoid Fighting While Full-Time RVing

But… do you two fight all the time?

When people find out we live in our 20ft travel trailer, that is one of the most common questions we get asked. We get this question from family, friends, random people… but we especially get this question from weekend RVers we meet at campgrounds.

And the short answer is: Yes. Of course we fight.

Living in very close quarters, not having much contact with people outside of each other, and sometimes getting into stressful situations together (such as backing the camper in tight spots, getting lost, or the RV breaking) can be recipes for fights. And we are together all the time, I mean all the time. Sometimes the little annoyances you feel about your partner can become a huge annoyance if you are faced with it every day, within a few feet from you.

Oh, plus, we’re in the middle of a pandemic which just adds another layer of stress to everything.

But it’s not if you fight, it’s how you fight. Fights can be good – especially when you learn from the fight. The key to fighting is to do it within both partners’ boundaries. When both partners are free to express feelings in a safe place, it can strengthen the relationship and build even more trust.

And marriage (or any relationship) is work and takes effort. So here are things we (try to) do to avoid issues, and insight into how we practice being better to one another every day.

First, a little background

We’ve been living together for almost six years, married for almost three years. Though much of that time I was traveling for work two weeks month and Chad was working outside the home. And then COVID-19 hit.

My travel ended on March 1, 2020. Chad took a voluntary extended leave from his airline job on April 1. And there we were. Suddenly we were together all the time, day in and day out. It was a huge change for us and took a bit of getting used to. But honestly, it was lovely. We shifted some of the household duties, we found out Chad makes the best breakfast frittata, and by mid-May we thought – hey, we like each other a lot, we can be around each other all the time in a tiny space (spoiler alert, we were right!).

So, we bought our R-Pod 192, with the intention to take off in June just for three months, as we thought Chad would be going back to work on Sept 1. COVID had other plans for us. Three months passed and we’re still on the road.

Oh, and we don’t have kids. But we do have an adorable Tibetan Terrier mix, Frankie Sinatra.

Yes, we fight

So, yes, we fight sometimes. Don’t all couples?

Though, most of our “fights” never get as far as an actual fight, more of a tiff. For example, I’ll find myself snapping at Chad for leaving socks on the ground. Chad will snap at me when backing up the camper, etc. Thankfully, these happen less and less as we spend more time together and also learn (and practice!) how to avoid future fights. But we did have an intense fight, more on that later.

When Chad and I have talked about our fights (after we’ve calmed down, of course), they all seem to have a few things in common: we’re either hungry, we’re tired, or something really annoying just happened (like something on the camper broke, or something cost us more money than we anticipated).

What we learned from our “big” fight

This fight was so stupid y’all. So stupid. As most fights are, right? I won’t get into the very specifics, but I brought up a sore subject (on accident, I swear) to Chad. Chad reacted, I reacted, both of us hurt each other’s feelings. And of course, this was right before dinner, so both of us were hangry.

But even though it sucked during the fight (we didn’t speak for 30 mins – which is not usual for us), we turned it into a learning moment. From this fight, we learned we need to be better at being more specific when sharing with each other – and especially making sure both of us know it’s OK to ask for some extra personal space when we need it, and for the other to respect the personal space. Most importantly, we learned it is OK to ask if we can talk about certain topics later.

How we (mostly) avoid fighting on the road

So, how do we avoid fights on the road, or catch a small argument from becoming a full-blown fight? Here are a few ways we avoid issues altogether, or stop a fight before it really starts, and maintain the “Happy Camper” married life.

We have similar expectations for RV life

We had some talks about this before we left for the road, but we both have similar ideas of what our life on the road should look like. Yes, we should go to some tourist sites, but we don’t have to see everything. Sometimes it’s OK to pay a few bucks more for convenience. Three-hour drives or under are preferred. I don’t like to drive – Chad does. Chad doesn’t like to navigate or plan campgrounds – I do. Chad likes to set up and breakdown the outside of the camper, I like to do the inside. This eliminates ruined expectations, which right there I think avoids so many fights that many couples have.

We have similar interests

Chad and I like the same types of foods, the same types of hikes, and similar activities. I know if I find a good takeout restaurant, I don’t even need to run it by him. If Chad finds a good fishing spot, he doesn’t have to run it by me. This is super helpful and cuts down on back and forth that could come from wanting to do different things. And if we do want to do different things, we talk about it and plan it. This just makes it really easy for both of us, and just one less thing that could go wrong.

We both take personal time

Our dog gets a lot of walks. But seriously, it’s great way to get a refreshing 20 minutes to yourself. We’ll also separate during errands, maybe I’ll do them one day, Chad the next. Just getting chunks of time to yourself is nice. Even right now, I’m at the dinette writing this and Chad is in the bed reading. Even though we are in the same room – we’re not interacting. And that’s good to do sometimes.

Everyone needs time to themselves. Some couples need more or less time, but whatever the time you need — make sure you take it. And if you’re partner needs some time, make sure you accommodate the request.

We are both flexible (sort of)

I admit, I’m type A and not as flexible as my husband. But we’re both flexible when it comes to RV life. And his extra flexibility helps me remember that everything is fixable. Maybe we can’t camp at the campground we wanted, maybe the weather is crap and we need to leave a day earlier, etc. As long as we’re both able to run with it, it seems to work.

Flexibility is so important when RVing because you pretty much need to expect the unexpected. And if one partner loses it because something goes wrong, that could easily cause a fight.

We both listen

While communication is important, the listening tends to be more important. We both try our best to listen to the other and really understand what the other needs or fells. In fact, I am amazed at how much closer we’ve become simply by practicing this daily.

We share responsibilities

We are a team, and this team works well together. We have our own “jobs” (like during set up and break down) but some other jobs are shared, or we tackle them together. We switch off with dishes and cooking. We both partake in cleaning days. We make the bed together. We switch off on taking the dog on walks. Neither of us feels like one is doing more than the other when it comes to the RV. Even when I take one some of the more emotional labor, Chad takes an extra step to pick up what he can (like he’ll cook every meal that day).

We pick our battles

Sometimes it’s just not worth it. I have a bad habit of losing my keys and sunglasses and instead of saying something, Chad will just find them. Chad has a bad habit of leaving socks out, but I just put them in the dirty laundry. Is it really worth saying something to the other person? I figure we both have our quirks, we can embrace them and keep the peace.

We share our feelings constructively

When we do decide to pick the battle, we do it kindly. We also don’t use accusatory words (you did this, you should, etc.) and instead use, “I feel.” But we converse with one another, share our feelings, so we can remedy the issue and move on.

We apologize (and mean it!) quickly

We both know we never intend to hurt one another, but it happens (again – usually when backing in the camper!). We listen, acknowledge our part in the hurt, apologize for it, and try not to do it again.

Morning cuddles are a must

Every morning we spend a few minutes cuddling together. It’s such a great way to wake up in the morning. Feeling the warmth of your partner, and sharing embraces, really helps affirm the care and love between us.

We practice gratitude and love towards one another each and every day

Practicing gratitude is so easy and effortless. Feeing grateful feels good. Saying thank you goes a long way. Thanking your partner for being on this journey, for being your partner, or for helping with some of the tasks that you couldn’t (or didn’t want to) do alone. And, for us, we also show thanks by doing nice things for one another. Chad offers to rub my shoulders without me asking, I rub his feet, etc. He’ll wake me up with coffee, or I’ll warm his towel up during his shower. And before bed, we end the night with a kiss and I love you.

We like each other

This is probably the most important one… and this should be obvious, right? But we really do like each other. Chad is my favorite person in the world, and I am his favorite. We genuinely like to be around one another and feel grateful and appreciative for this experience we’re sharing.

If you don’t like your partner (and I mean like them a lot), it’s going to be pretty difficult to share a very small space with them.

And finally, we reset

We have a sign in our camper that I found at an antique shop. It says “It’s never too late to start the day over.” (It’s a line from a Michael Franti + Spearhead song.) I grabbed it because it’s something that Chad and I say if we get into a tiff. We simply take a breath, agree to reset, and then usually a quick kiss and an apology for getting short. A simple reset has probably saved 99.4% of our tiffs from becoming an actual fight.

I should also add, I married a very patient and very kind man who is also logical enough to (mostly) not let stress get the best of him (and therefor, us).

The truth is — RVing is the best thing we’ve ever done, and it’s a shared experience with my favorite person in the world. Sometimes the unknown is scary, sometimes it’s thrilling. We’re learning a lot about ourselves, each other, and we’re finding that we really really do like one another (but we also know WAY too much about each other’s bathroom habits).

Are you a full-timer living in a tiny space with your partner? What are some tips, tricks, or advice you have for couples thinking about moving into an RV (or for us)? We’d love to know! Leave us a comment below or on Twitter or Instagram.