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SURVIVE RVing with Your Spouse -10 UNWRITTEN Rules

| Updated Jan 2, 2024

RVing with your spouse can be the best experience… or the worst. Here are our unwritten rules to help you survive RVing with your spouse…

We have been RVing for over 11 years now, and for much of that time in a small campervan! Oh, and we travel with a 70-pound dog, too. 

We’ve clearly learned how to survive living and traveling together in such close quarters. If we hadn’t, we either would’ve killed each other by now or given up on our dream of RVing. I don’t know which would’ve been the worse outcome. 

All joking aside, RVing with your spouse is a wonderful and very special experience. But it does come with some BIG challenges.

So, we’re going to share our “unwritten rules” that have helped us remain happy all these years of RVing. Hopefully, they will help you not only survive RVing with your spouse but truly enjoy it!

10 Unwritten Rules of RVing with Your Spouse

The following rules are based on challenges we’ve had to overcome ourselves. Some of these rules we figured out pretty quickly. Others we wish we would’ve learned much faster

Let’s hope that by us writing them down, you get a headstart on a happy, healthy RVing marriage!

**By the way, these rules apply to traveling partners and companions, too, not just spouses!**

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

1. Learn Your Spouse’s Love Language

RVing with Your Spouse

Did you know there are 5 love languages? For a long time, we didn’t know either, but boy, is that knowledge a game-changer! Or, rather, a relationship-changer! 

If you haven’t read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, order it today! Or, better yet, listen to the audiobook with your spouse on your next road trip.

You don’t have to take our word on it being one of the best marriage books, either. It has nearly 90,000 5-star ratings on Amazon. It is written by a Christian author, but the wisdom inside is for every couple, regardless of their religious beliefs.

2. Adopt the 330 Rule

RVing with Your Spouse

This is one of those rules we learned the hard way. Honestly, Jennifer knew better from the start, and I admit I should’ve listened to her sooner. If I had, we would’ve enjoyed the beginning months of living our RV dream so much more

The problem was… I wanted to get as far as I could as fast as I could every time we hit the road. I kept trying to set a new personal best. It’s 735 miles in one day, by the way. 

I was impressed with myself when I set that record, but now I’m impressed Jennifer didn’t kick me out of the RV and drive herself home. 

Eventually, Jennifer’s reasoning finally sunk into my brain, and we adopted the 330 Rule… most of the time. We STILL struggle with this rule. It goes like this:

Stop when you have driven 330 miles, or it’s 3:30 in the afternoon.

You can learn more about the value of the 330 rule here.

3. Staying Organized is a Team Effort

RVing with Your Spouse

Staying organized is essential when living the RV lifestyle. And the only way you’ll successfully stay organized is to make it a team effort. 

Sure, your spouse may pick up the slack and keep everything organized for you… but for how long? How many times will they trip over your shoes or put the flashlight back before they throw them at your head? 

Ok, let’s hope they don’t actually throw them at you, but you get my point. When living in tight quarters, you both have to do your part in staying organized.

To stay organized together in an RV, follow Marie Kondo’s organization method where you have a place for everything and everything in its place. 

4. Share Decision Making

RVing with Your Spouse

RVers face a very real challenge called decision fatigue. It’s when you become mentally and emotionally exhausted from having to make too many decisions in a short time. 

As RVers, you’re constantly deciding when to leave, where to stop, what to eat, where to camp, what to do, and so on and so on. And when it comes to RVing couples, the decision-making often falls on the head of one person.

That’s why it’s important to share decision-making. How that looks for you will vary. Maybe you’ll designate certain decisions for each spouse. Or maybe you’ll take turns on an hourly, daily, or trip basis. 

However you do it, share the mental load!

5. Intentionally Spend QUALITY Time Together

RVing couples spend a lot of time together, but that doesn’t mean it’s all quality time! We have met many frustrated RV spouses that are lonely even though they’re together all the time.

In many cases, one spouse feels neglected while the other obliviously enjoys their Me Time… all the time. 

The point is you need to be intentional about spending quality time together. Whether that’s turning off the TV while you eat, going on walks together, or taking a date night in the town you’re visiting. 

6. Give & Take “Me Time”

Speaking of “Me Time,” it is just as important as spending quality time together. When you live in close quarters and do everything together, the smallest frustrations will build up and eventually explode.

That’s why it’s important to take some Me Time AND make sure you give your spouse Me Time, too. Some spouses require more Me Time than others, so you’ll have to figure out a healthy balance for both of you. 

It can be as simple as letting your spouse read quietly or watch TV in peace. Or supporting their favorite camping hobbies.

7. Invest in Noise Cancelling & Wireless TV Headphones

RVing with Your Spouse

To help with Me Time, we highly recommend investing in two types of headphones. RV couples likely need one or the other, if not both.

The first is in high-quality noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. These will help you enjoy your Me Time without your spouse having to completely vacate the premises.

The second headphones you should get are wireless headphones for TV watching. These allow one person to enjoy watching tv without disturbing the other person in the RV. 

8. Have a “Reset” Plan

No matter how well you follow these rules or how well you get along, you’ll inevitably get frustrated with each other. That’s true for spouses no matter their situation, but it’s especially true when you travel or live in such tight quarters.

In many cases, it’s just little frustrations that build up to the point of bickering and, eventually, fighting. Let me give a common example…

We get up after not sleeping so well and have to quickly pack up and hit the road. It’s taking longer than it should, you keep getting in each other’s way, the RV shouldn’t have gotten this messy in the first place!…

By the time you’re on the road, you’re either bickering, angrily ignoring each other, or all-out fighting. Really, it’s over a bunch of little things that you shouldn’t let ruin the rest of your day, and especially not the rest of your trip.

So, you need to reset! Have a “reset plan” or a “reset button,” where you both take a deep breath and admit you need to reset. 

Sometimes, just acknowledging you need a reset and taking some deep breaths together is enough. Other times, your plan needs to include taking some brief “Me Time” to cool off. But the intention is always to come back together quickly with a clean slate for the day.

9. LOOK for Things to Say Thank You For

RVing with Your Spouse

One of the BEST ways to avoid little frustrations is to show gratitude for your partner as much as possible. Don’t just say thank you for the basics, like cooking your dinner or washing the dishes.

LOOK for little things to say thank you for. We say look for things because spouses often don’t even realize what the other spouse does for them.  

If your spouse organizes a cabinet, thank them. If your spouse fixes a squeaky door, thank them. If your spouse booked camping reservations or looked up things to do or took the dog to the bathroom at 3 am, thank them. 

The more you thank your spouse, the more you’ll realize something amazing happens… they’ll do even more nice things (it’s been proven!). So, if you’re both looking for things to thank your spouse for, you’ll continue to do nice things for each other. 

It’s a beautiful circle!

10. Have Defined RV Duties (but Know How to Do All of Them)

To avoid one person feeling like they’re carrying most of the load, each person should have designated RV duties. This not only makes setup and teardown much more efficient, but it ensures everyone’s doing their fair share.

If you notice that one of you finishes their duties much earlier than the other, it’s time to sit down and redesignate duties.

But, another very important thing we want to point out is that it’s VERY IMPORTANT that you at least know how to do your partner’s duties!

Why? Well, that takes some more explaining, which you can read all about in The Biggest Pitfall of Splitting RV Duties Down the Middle.

Special Messages for RV Wives and RV Husbands…

In the above videos, we each address our fellow RV wives and RV husbands. We share our experiences and some tips for all who are new to RVing with a spouse.

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-01-02

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

6 Responses to “SURVIVE RVing with Your Spouse -10 UNWRITTEN Rules”

January 04, 2024at8:51 am, Mike Rademacher said:

Hi Mike and Jennifer! I greatly appreciate this segment. These rules apply not only to RV life but life in general when in a relationship! I would like to add a rule that I made and have used over the past 40+ years of marriage.
I named it:
The Three C’s
Communicate
Compromise
Cuddle
Thanks again Jennifer and Mike!

Reply

January 05, 2024at10:31 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Read addition – thanks, Mike! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

January 03, 2024at12:03 pm, Matthew Colie said:

Mike, you missed on that we have found important. Be ready to yield the core. If you do not have an arena sized coach (and we don’t – she is a 50yo 23′ A) it is important to yield the core space when one of you is at a task. This is very important around meal times. The other doesn’t have to leave, but does have to find a perch that will not impede the other’s effort. Meal time is obvious, but some times there is something that I may need to do that requires a lot of the space. Just getting out my tool box kills the dinette. We have been in this coach for 17 years and in a 27′ sailboat for 10 years before that.

Reply

January 05, 2024at10:30 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Great addition – thanks, Matthew! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

May 21, 2023at2:01 pm, Linda Simpson said:

Thank you Mike for posting this great video for men. Sometimes I think “it’s just me” and seeing this video makes me realize that I’m not alone in my thoughts. I especially appreciate the section about personal care. I always tell my husband, “when we have a partner we have to remember how our decisions effect our partner”. I really enjoy being a member of your RV Lifestyle group and always learn great things from both of you.

Reply

May 22, 2023at12:03 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank YOU for this encouraging comment! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

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