I am really excited to write this post. I have been pondering this post for quite a while before sitting down to write it because I wanted it to be meaningful for anyone that reads it. Whether you’re married, or not, in a relationship, or not, how can I explain how our marriage changed without it sounding like a “dear diary” moment?
To preface me telling you about the different ways our marriage changed, I want you to know a couple of things first.
- We saved up for over a year, sold all of our belongings, and traveled around the country on a budget in 100 sq. ft. travel trailer. I also continued to work from the road so we could go for an entire year. It was the most incredible experience of our lives, and we are so grateful for that opportunity every single day. You can read a little more about the trip here.
- There are things to take away from this even if you never want to do a crazy road trip around the country as we did. I am so glad we were able to have that time and experience together because it opened our eyes up to how our relationship could be even better. We thought we had great communication and a good marriage, and it’s amazing how it deepened. So, if I was telling this to a friend who was never going to go on a trip like this, I’d say look at the list of things that changed for us and then challenge your relationship. What can you do at home, in your current environment, to learn more about each other and grow even closer than you thought possible?
What this is NOT:
In no way do I want this to be something you read and think, “man, I wish we could go on a trip, our marriage needs this,” or “well aren’t you privileged, we can’t all just go and do this,” or “I’m so jealous, people on social media have the coolest lives.” While these are some perks of us living on the road, there were also a lot of things that weren’t fun on the trip (more on that in another post). Basically… I don’t want to cause comparison syndrome. Because social media only shows the glamorization of our lives, the good parts, the highlights.
This is simply to share our story and perhaps inspire you to look at these areas in your relationship and grow together.
The underlying thread through each of these things is communication. Now, as I said above, we’ve been pretty good at communicating with each other, but there is something about being together every single day (for the entire day) that challenges that. So, here are 4 ways that living on the road full-time changed our marriage.
#1. Resolving Disagreements
We had to learn how to resolve disagreements on a much quicker timeframe! It would never fail that when we made each other the angriest it would be raining outside. The only place to go when that happens is… the bathroom? Unless you want to try and put out a little portion of the awning so you can sit under it and hope you don’t get wet.
It forced us to talk through our issues quicker, rather than sit angrily at each other or leave the room and not talk for hours. We are both very stubborn individuals and we can go a long time before one of us takes the first step. It taught us that we needed to give a little, more quickly, and work to resolve the problem faster. Rather than us both be miserable for what seemed like forever. Now, when we have arguments, we’ve noticed how we tend to resolve them quickly. We still have our moments where we need our space for a while, but we’ve learned that the sooner we can get past this, the sooner we can both be happy again.
Moral of this story… take a breather when you need to. But don’t let fights drag on endlessly. There’s so much more to life, and communicating more even if it means you’re wrong, need to compromise, or need to forgive quicker is better than being miserable.
Red Sox Game! #sweetcaroline
#2. Learning how each other works
For us, this related a lot to how the other literally works and does their job. He learned so much about what goes into my job, which I am so grateful for. It’s often hard for our family and friends to understand my job as an entrepreneur. I wear a lot of hats, and they’re usually only seeing the highlight reel:
- A more flexible schedule
- Posting on social media
- Working at a coffee shop
What they’re not seeing:
- Working twice as hard to make sure we can have a more flexible schedule, or working double time and planning ahead so we can have hours off to do something here or there.
- Working at night so we can grab a long lunch or do a photo shoot with a friend.
- Stressing over whether you’re going to make ends meet because the money isn’t steady.
- Working at a coffee shop because you’re lonely, and can’t focus in the home that you do life and work in 24/7.
Being on the road allowed him to see all the behind the scenes things that go into keeping clients happy, growing a small business, and attempting to build another small business (my poor blog…).
Vice Versa. I got to see how he worked! I learned how he studies the best, solves problems on the job, and handles conflict. He took a few jobs here and there while we were traveling, including tutoring! I learned how he needs to have certain tasks to keep him busy, and I learned which tasks he did not like to do.
This came in very handy when we had to pack up the trailer in a short period of time while it was pouring rain.
At the top of the space needle in Seattle.
#3. We learned we don’t always work well together!
We both have our strengths when it comes to work, and want things done in certain ways. He is an engineer, very structured, and things have to work a certain way. I am the polar opposite. I’m very creative, flexible, but I also have to have things working a certain way. When we do collaborate on things for work, we both know our roles. We also did say that we probably couldn’t work on a business full-time together. We tried, not our strong suit. And while we learned that and were frustrated during that learning process, we also discovered that we’re great supports for each other’s jobs – even more than before! Because now, we understand each other’s jobs, and feelings about work a lot more clearly.
So now, when things arise at work, we both get it. We’re not just listening to be there for one another, we truly understand. I hope I’m explaining this in a way that makes sense. I encourage you to learn what your spouse truly does. We do not understand each other’s jobs 100%, but we are appreciative of each other’s skills, the emotions that go into our jobs, the stressors and the highlights!
#4. It’s okay to have different interests
We’ve always had different interests, but something fun that changed was the way we encouraged each other in those differences. Instead of just heading out the door to do a hobby, we started to want to learn more about why it is we like doing certain things and why it was important to the other person. While you’ll never see me willingly play disc golf, or him willingly practice photography… we both have mutual respect and understanding.
You’re not going to want to be together 24/7, and you shouldn’t feel bad about that. Brannon and I are very codependent, yet we still find ways to enjoy our own things that are just our own. We’re better together because of it.
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