“How have you not killed each other yet?” is the question I get the most at cocktail parties and social gatherings, followed by “I’d [insert slow torture + spouse’s name] if we lived in a van together.”
My husband and I moved into a 108-square-foot van together back in 2009, after financial hardship forced us to vacate our California apartment. We set out to drive the Pan-American Highway from Canada to South America, both excited and daunted by the prospect of spending so much time together in tiny digs on a tight budget.
And the truth is, my husband and I almost did kill each other our first year out on the road. Our old patterns quickly became obsolete: He could no longer take off on a solo surf trip when tensions were running high in our apartment, and I couldn't go spend hours venting with girlfriends whenever we got into an argument.
Without our go-to solution of “time apart,” we had to come up with better ones in order to make our relationship last.
Since our rough start six years ago, we’ve figured out how to make our close and constant physical proximity translate emotionally. In fact, our marriage is infinitely stronger because we live in a small space and spend 24 hours a day together. Given our unique lifestyle, we just don’t have room for the kind of behavior that often drives lovers apart.
These are five critical lessons on love that we've learned living in a van: