No, We Haven’t Killed Each Other. Yes, We Have Been Tempted.

I mentioned on Facebook this week wanting to send Emma to her non-existent room. My stepsister laughed at my pain virtually and said what most people say when I talk about someone in my traveling party driving me crazy: I can’t believe you haven’t killed anyone yet.

No, we haven’t killed anyone yet. Despite living with four people in a tiny space and spending almost all of our time together, everyone remains totally alive and mostly bruise free. How do we do it? The same way you do it.

We remember that both abuse and murder is illegal.

It’s not that I think domestic violence is funny or a viable option. Really. It’s just that of course we get on each other’s nerves. My children roll their eyes and my husband bites his tongue. He also makes this spitting sound occasionally that is the. most. annoying. noise. ever. We snap at each other and say things that are unkind. We stomp, we slam, we refuse to speak.

And then we realize that the only option we have is to work it out.

Jared and I separated two years ago after what seemed like a fast and furious explosion. The reality was that our relationship had been slowly deteriorating for years, resentment and unsaid things eating away at our connection to one another. What we learned in putting our marriage back together was that it was not being unhappy or angry that was the biggest threat to our relationship, but the tendency to let the anger and unhappiness build up under the guise of “letting it go” or “keeping the peace.”

What does that have to do with living in an RV together?

It’s really, really difficult to pretend to let things go when you’re all up in each other’s space all the time.

Of course, we try.

Fighting in front of the kids sucks and we are almost always in front of the kids. Dealing with a pissed off spouse sucks, and so it is tempting to just “let it go” instead of “starting a fight”. Letting someone know you’re hurt or upset or even annoyed requires a certain amount of trust and vulnerability, and sometimes I’m just not in the mood to be trusting and vulnerable. All of those seem like very good reasons for not telling each other when something is bothering us.

But then the resentment builds up like steam in a very small pipe and BAM! It has to go somewhere. Before, we could go to work or talk to a friend or do any number of things to let off a little pressure temporarily, enough to get by as if nothing was building under the surface. The pressure valves are limited now and so we have to let it out. We have to work through it.

We don’t get along better than you imagine you would with your family because we’ve mastered familial relationships. We get along better than we thought we would because we have to.

We’re still trying to figure out how to prevent the steam from building up in the first place.

Have you ever been forced to get along with someone? What techniques did you use to make it work?

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