We get the same question. A lot. “How do you manage being together all the time? Doesn’t that get you crazy? What about alone time? I could never do that!
Interestingly enough, most of these questions/comments, come from my women friends. Do guys have similar thoughts? No clue! (Please let me know here if you do and I’ll write a blog and give you credit)!
Handsome Husband and I just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary-our 4th on the road as Happily Homeless, and, yes, we’re still happy, still together, still planning on staying together. Anyone who’s been married for more than a couple of years knows that its tough enough when you’re sharing a house with someone, no matter how much you love them. Amplify that to the confines of a car and then talk to me about tough…
We travel in a Ford Escape, which is the smaller of their SUVs. There is a console in the middle between the two front seats. That’s about it for space while we’re on the road. But we’ve learned to have our own space even within this. Sometimes its a beautiful, comfortable space, listening to music, chilling out, staring dreamily out the window at incredible sights. Sometimes, if we’ve had a disagreement or outright fight…not so much!
Our marriage is a strong one. Started out that way, and grown stronger. That’s good. But that doesn’t meant that we get along perfectly, by any means. There are times when I need to vent over a particular issue, times when I need to share something not with Handsome Husband, but because of Handsome Husband.
Before retirement, Handsome Husband was Air Force and then, civil service. He was a long-range planner, he was a safety manager for his unit, he worked with numbers (not accounting but in tail number scheduling for the C-141’s and other planes). It took attention to detail, focus, and, as a safety officer, thinking through a sh*tload of “what if” scenarios. And he was really, really good at what he did. All praise for him and all that.
Does it sound like I’ve digressed from my original writing intent? Pay attention, because I haven’t, not in the least. I’m merely giving you some background as to how we aren’t perfect but still manage to stay married (happily) even though we are mainly only a few feet away from one another at any given moment. For nearly 4 years. That’s F-O-U-R.
For instance, regarding detail. I just told him what I was writing here, and the whole safety thing. And he pointed out how he wasn’t a safety officer, which is how I’d originally described it. He doesn’t want anyone to think that he was a military officer. He was an NCO (non-commissioned officer). But, as he just explained further, he wasn’t just an NCO, he was a Senior NCO. And then said I need to explain what an NCO is, for non-military folks. See what I mean? Attention to detail. Me? Not so much. The point is, he did a bunch of what if scenarios, and, while I am fairly cognizant of surroundings, my safety issues, etc, it isn’t anywhere near where he goes with it. (BTW, an NCO is an enlisted person of higher rank who does all the work for the officers, without any of the credit. That’s my definition, not his, which would be more technical, but you get my drift).
Now I have lost my point. Wait a minute. Hang on….marriage….relationships…anniversaries…lack of space…being together 24/7…..oh, got it!
We’ve had our times when it hasn’t gone smoothly. Handsome Husband doesn’t mind me sharing with the world at large (because I’m that sure that I have that many followers!) about our decision that he would do all the driving. It’s a good thing, I suppose, that we didn’t have our huge “Happily Homeless” decal on the back of our car early on, leaving us un-identifiable when the Ford Escape suddenly veered to the side of the road while driving through Vermont our first year of travel. Close upon that veering was the sight of Handsome Husband slamming out of the driver’s side of the car and taking off down the road in the opposite direction. Where was I, you might well ask? In the passenger’s seat, fuming. I don’t even recall exactly what we’d fought about. Something having to do with my driving earlier in the day, which he’d criticized, followed by silence for a few hours after he took the wheel, followed by me making some comment, followed by him slamming out of the car. (For the record, I’ve only ever had 1 (that’s O-N-E, ticket, when I was 17-year-old. Ask him how many he’s gotten). Anyways.
He kept walking. I kept sitting. He disappeared from view. I sat. And fumed. And considered driving away leaving him there. Especially after an hour or so had passed. He’ll refute that a few hours passed. I stick to my guns because, believe me, I was watching the clock. I was pissed, I was scared for him, and I was pissed. Until mainly I was pissed, and seriously contemplating driving off into the horizon.
He eventually returned. Somehow that moment was resolved. (How is it that we seldom remember such life-changing moments)? Anyhoo, I think we actually verbalized aloud that he would do all the driving from there on into the future. And, other than when he had cancer, and the surgeries on his arm, briefly incapacitating him, we’ve stuck to that. On some days I think, wow, if we’re going to continue traveling for the next 20 years, that’s an awful lot of driving! And then I think, hey, he wants to drive, let him drive. I’ll go along for the ride!
This is one small sample of how we’ve managed all these years. Which is to say, I don’t really know how we’ve managed. He’ll be the first to tell you that he doesn’t know how I put up with him at times, and on certain days, I’ll agree with him. He is a self-admitted obsessive/compulsive, and yes, that drives me nuts at times. The only thing I can point to that we share in common are our basic morals and concepts of life. Because, personality-wise, we are polar opposites. He does detail. I don’t. He speaks pretty literally. I speak in generalities. He makes a plan and sticks to it (and I most often agree with his plans, knowing that when he makes plans, he’s always keeping me in mind). But, me- even though I’m agreeing with his plans, my idea of sticking to plans means oh, let’s go off on that pathway, or, oh, look! we should check that out!
(He just now told me that he’s going to start blogging someday so that he’ll have equal time with the story-telling. Of course I realize that he must have his list of “What Alison does that annoys the hell out of me”. And if and when he does write, I’ll read it and laugh because he’ll probably be correct).
The only possible reason we’ve managed this long on the road is because we deeply love one another and are still very much in love with one another. It gets tough sometimes, absolutely. Its been difficult for him to deal with the cancer, and the results of treatments, its been hard for me to see him struggling, and I hate that our lives have been so impacted with illness. The thing is, as I remind myself through all of it-you gotta laugh. Me and Handsome Husband? We’re all of you, figuring life out, figuring relationships out. It’s just that we’re doing it in a really, really, small space.