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Fun and Friendship Ideas: Getting An RV

One of the most common complaints of couples who come to see me and one or the other is thinking of cashing in their marriages is: We aren’t compatible.  By this they mean we don’t spend time together, we don’t have the same interests, our lives are going in different directions, and we don’t even like each other.

I don’t want to sound crass, but I don’t buy the couple isn’t compatible.  I believe they don’t spend time together nurturing common interests.  This is a choice.  Life changes.  Culture changes.  Interests change.  Our schedules and availability changes.  On top of that, we develop patterns and habits.  Often these habits aren’t the best and encourage each of us to do our own thing.

Sometimes it might be helpful for you to go see someone like us.  We can help you think through your schedules together and find common interests.  We live in a free society.  You can do anything you want.  Surely of the literally thousands of things you can do, the two of you could find SOMETHING you both enjoy.  And then, as life and health and the number of children at home and jobs and life changes, you can change your common interests.  If you don’t know what they are, searching for them is half the fun!

If you are new to our website, check out our Thriving Couples Model we use in marital therapy.  Of all the levels of the Thriving Couples Model (click here for an explanation of the Model), the easiest one to address is Fun and Friendship.  Most couples find what brought them together in the first place was the idea that they enjoyed hanging out together and doing fun things.  You’ve heard the saying, “Families that pray together, stay together?”  We could also say, “Families that play together, stay together.”  It would be pretty rare for a couple to divorce if they really liked each other and spend time together!  It also helps people remain faithful to a spouse they enjoy spending time with.  It’d be easier to communicate with your husband if you liked him!  Sex and affection would make more sense if you’ve actually spent time together having fun!  Hey, it’s a win-win!

Sometimes people just need ideas.  Many times my clients seem to benefit with a story from my own life and my own marriage on how my wife and I did this or that. Since my wife and I just bought an RV (we picked it up a week ago Thursday), I thought I’d tell you a bit about it, to encourage you to develop your own patterns of spending fun time together.  You certainly don’t have to go camping!  But maybe how we address camping in our marriage can help you develop your own interests together and thus improve your marriage and family life.

This is actually my second blog about our RV.  The first one is here.  In that blog I told about why we ended up buying a new RV this year.  It was a bit embarrassing.  We’d actually bought our first RV last summer, but I ended up destroying it (What a guy!).  Here’s hoping this one works out better.  I think the first one we bought (28 feet) was too heavy for our towing vehicle (1995 GMC 2500 Vandura, 5.7 V8).  The one we picked up last week is a thousand pounds lighter.   I could tell before we even got out of the RV dealer lot it was going to be easier to tow.  That, in itself, reduced the stress.  Even so, our new RV (22 feet in length) may be a bit much for us to travel across country.  But most of what we’ll be doing is camping locally and going to work the next day, so we don’t have to haul it far.

On our “Maiden Voyage” to a local campground we were sitting by the campfire one evening and I said to Mary Sue, I’d wished we’d bought an RV 15 years earlier.  She said I was in school at the time and we were broke and we’d never been able to afford it.  Maybe.  But that’s just it.  It’s not as expensive as I’d thought.  I have a relative that bought a five year old RV that was 24 feet long or so for only $5000.  You can actually buy new ones for around $7000 (pop-up, tent types).  For some people (not us!), that’s one trip to the Caribbean!  My point was it’s cheaper than I’d thought.  We certainly didn’t need a new one.  Given our station in life, we were able to buy a new one now.

The short story on how we ended up with an RV is:

-The biggest contributing factor was my dad’s heart attack and stroke last May and my mom and dad ending up in a nursing home and our having to clean out and sell their old place.  What a project.  I immediately thought I didn’t want to stay overnight at their house without them there and thought of getting a camper to put in the driveway.  That got me actively looking.  Prior to that it was only an interest.  We’d check out the RV’s at the State Fair each year and every year we’d say we’re going to get one.  But having a real pressing family reason for one got the ball rolling.

-At the time of my father’s health issues, a couple I was working with (you know who you are.  A hearty thanks for your encouragement and inspiration) had just bought a new RV and were telling me about it and how fun it was and how it all worked.  That got me actually looking up various models and options.  Narrowing it down to what would work for us took a lot of time.  The website I spent a lot of time on is here.

-From a practical standpoint, camping in the back of the Van wasn’t cutting it anymore.  My wife and I are going on 37 years together this summer.  We’ve camped our whole marriage.  Our first “Date” was an all day outing to a state park with some mutual friends.  Another big date was after an all day canoe trip down the Zumbro River in South Eastern Minnesota.  Our first overnight date after we got married was on the bank of the Root River on another canoe trip.  My first job was as a Camp Director at a Christian Camp on the Zumbro River.  Mary Sue was the camp cook.  The first thing we bought after our wedding was a backpack (we still use it!) and a two-man tent (a raccoon destroyed it twenty years ago) so we could go camping.  We bought it with an Eddie Bauer gift certificate for our wedding from my neighbor in my home town.  Our first big getaway was to Itasca State Park, where the source of the Mississippi River is located, in northern Minnesota.  Nineteen years ago we added our full-sized van to the mix, with mom and dad in the van and the kids in the tent.  The thought of electricity, a refrigerator and a bathroom right there was beginning to sound appealing the older we got.  Loading the van every time we wanted to go camping is a lot of work.  Having everything in the trailer would make camping less work.

-We decided on a travel trailer, because we didn’t want the hassle of having to put up the canvas tent part of a pop-up trailer.  We’d had enough with putting up tents.  We wanted a self-contained unit where we could just pull up and everything is ready to go.  We already had the towing vehicle (the van listed above).  The cost of a motorized Class A, B or C RV were cost prohibitive.  The travel trailer was within our budget and that style made perfect sense.

-We initially got a rear living unit last summer.  We loved the comfortable living area so we could chill before going to bed or be inside on a cold, rainy day.  But, as I’ve indicated, it was too much trailer for our towing vehicle, so this time we went with a 22 foot Jayco unit (to see the layout of our unit click here and scroll down to the 22FB).  We bought it in Des Moines, about 40 miles away from where we live.  The other one we bought last summer in Council Bluffs, Iowa, 160 miles away.  It quickly became apparent to us buying closer to home was going to be a better choice from a service standpoint.  The 22 foot unit we purchased was the smallest unit we could find that had a separate sleeping area from the living area with a couch and dinette (so we could have company sleeping in our trailer overnight, like grandkids), an oven (Smaller units only have a stove top.  Our new favorite thing is hot cookies out of the oven while camping using frozen bread dough from the grocer.  We’re so lazy!), and a fuller size refrigerator (smaller units only have a fridge that fits under the counter.  We wanted more space in the fridge than that.).

Below is a pic from our first campsite with our new unit from two weekends ago.  This is the first time we’d ever been camping in April.  The weather was in the upper 60’s and sunny and we were actually camping on a lake.

In future posts on our RV I’ll tell of some of my wife’s upgrades and a few of the tricks we’ve discovered along the way.

I used my camera on my laptop because we forgot our camera. Unfortunately, the laptop camera puts the picture in reverse. Sorry. Still, it gives you an idea of our first campsite in our new trailer. What fun!

I used my camera for this picture on my laptop because we forgot our regular camera. Unfortunately, the laptop camera puts the picture in reverse and the resolution isn’t the greatest. Sorry. Still, this pic gives you an idea of our first campsite in our new trailer. What fun!

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