May 112011

I got an e-mail the other day from a gentleman who shared a story that I have heard more than once. It never gets any easier to hear, and I’m never sure how to respond.

He told me that he has been a Gypsy Journal subscriber for years, and has dreamed of fulltiming for longer than he can remember, He will be 70 this year, and recently retired for the second time, first putting in 24 years in the Army and then another 20 years with a manufacturing company. Now he wants to live his dream. He and his wife are both in excellent health.

But his wife is totally opposed to not only fulltime RVing, but travel of any kind. He told me that several years ago they bought a used motorhome and took one trip in it, and it broke down the first night out, resulting in them spending the night in a repair shop parking lot. He said that as soon as the repairs were completed the next day, his wife insisted they return home, where he parked the RV and never moved it again until it was sold. According to him, his wife wants nothing more out of life than to watch TV from the time she gets up in the morning until she goes to bed at night.

He said he has begged her to just go south in the winter to escape the cold in New England, and she refuses. He said he finally told her that if she wasn’t willing to travel, he would do it on his own for two or three months during the winter, and she vowed to divorce him. He asked my advice, saying that he didn’t want to walk away from a 50 year marriage, but he also can’t be happy sitting next to her on the couch until the undertaker hauls him away..

I’m not exactly Dr. Phil, but my first reaction was that I’d tell her sayonara, and that she could kiss my taillights goodbye as I drove out of sight. What I did tell him was that I couldn’t make his decisions for him, but at age 70, if he doesn’t live his dream now, when will he?

As I said, he is not the first person to share this same problem with me. A lot of new or soon to be fulltimers have second thoughts. It’s a big step to take. We even experienced it ourselves, As happens with many people, Miss Terry was excited about the prospect of life on the road, but got cold feet at the last minute, when she realized that she was about to go off and leave her home and “security” behind. Fortunately, that only lasted until we passed the city limits sign, and now I couldn’t drag her kicking and screaming back into a conventional lifestyle, even if I tried.

Terry and I developed an entire seminar for Life on Wheels titled The Reluctant RVer that addresses this issue. We had many students thank us later for helping them get past their fears and hesitation to embrace the RV lifestyle.

But the class only helps those who are reluctant. What happens when one spouse longs to travel, and the other is adamant that he or she will not set foot inside an RV, and compromise is not an option? Who wins and who loses?

There is a big difference between having second thoughts, and not being willing to give your life partner’s dream even one thought. When that happens, what do you do? Who wins and who loses? In this case, I fear they will both lose in the end.

Thought For The Day – There is a word for somebody who has a dream and pursues it no matter what, never stopping, never giving up, no matter what. That word is successful. 

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  29 Responses to “Who Wins And Who Loses?”

  1. I have to admit that I consider myself a pretty fortunate person.
    Not my doing,but just dumb luck I guess. As proof of that,the latest stroke of good luck is that my wifr has agreed to travel full time with me. Today is her last day at work and we will load up our newly acquired ( used ) Winnebabo Journey and depart on an extended trip. We think about 18 months.
    How lucky am ? Very lucky

    Thanks Nick for your advice and encouragement

  2. Nick, this one sounds like she has been the decision maker all along. I feel sorry for the guy in question. I really wonder what would happen if he called her bluff? Would she really try the divorce route, or is it just a threat to get her way. In my mind, marriage is TWO people making decision together.
    There is more to life than a 32 inch TV set.

  3. I wonder how they stayed married for so long and both lived.
    That is a painful story.
    I hope they find some middle ground.

  4. Leroy, some folks take vows taken before God as permanent.

  5. I too feel very sorry for BOTH of them. I’ve seen a very similar scenario played out first hand.

    My mother-in-law was a self induced invalid, both in-laws had dreams of traveling once my father-in-law retired.

    They took one or two trips but then his entire life ended up caring for her.

    When she passed away, his remaining desire for life was: (and I quote) riding his motor scooter, dumpster diving and watching Jerry Springer.

    We watched him slowly deteriorate (while living his new dream life) from 1997 (when his wife passed away) until 2008, when he died in our home of Alzheimer disease. By the time he came to live with us, (July 2007) he was so far gone that he didn’t always recognize my wife or her sister.

    For the couple Nick refers to, I’m sure glad it’s not my situation or decision.


  6. I belonged to a RV club that went camping once a month somewhere. There was one guy there that never brought his wife as see refused to go RVing also. He just went on his own with us and had a good time. I think he finally quit doing it when he turned 85 and just couldnt drive it anymore. It was all local camping tho, not for several months at a time.

  7. Guess I was lucky, I’m 53, she’s 50, and in our 3rd year as Fulltimers, the hard part for her is leaving the grandkids. So, we spend Nov. to Jan and April and May in Florida (no, we not snowbirds, we’ve lived in Fl. for 30 yrs) with the kids. Rest the time, we are on the road, and yes, she has her days, and she’s fine after a phone call or 2.

  8. I have a friend & his wife who both wanted to RV. She picked out the RV. When he retired she didn’t want to go so he went off for 2 weeks. Came back home. She still didn’t want to go. He went out for a month. Came back home. Again she still didn’t want to leave. He left for 6 months came home & told her he found out he could live without her & divorced her. Come to find out she didn’t want to go as she had a lover she didn’t want to leave.

  9. Nick, that course of yours at Life on Wheels helped me. It helped me to understand the mechanics of full timing and how there was no one successful way to do it, that everyone had to choose what was right for them.

    My heart aches for this gentlemen. To me it sounds like their marriage has lasted because he has always appeased her. To me anyone who will not even consider something their spouse is yearning for is very egocentric.

    I do hope that he will at least take local trips, even if by himself especially since he can stay at military camping facilities.

  10. We know many couples who choose to travel separately, some for months, some for years. Many that we knew who chose to give it try, ended up separating or in divorce court. We feel that living this close to one another will either strengthen a marriage or blow it apart.

    We are lucky since we both agree that even after over 6 years and many struggles, we prefer this lifestyle over the stationary one. But, it wasn’t always like this…

    Even though this had been a childhood dream for both of us, Jerry needed assurance and security, which this lifestyle for us offered none of that. I dragged him out here kicking and screaming all the way and he continued to kick and scream for years, especially because some really tough things continued to happen to us on the road.

    Now we hope we are able to continue traveling as we do for many, many years…we both absolutely LOVE IT…but it is NOT for everyone!

  11. I say dump the broad and get on with his life. Life is too short to waste it

  12. We are snowbirds, gone for 6-7 months and home in the summer. My wife misses the grand kids, but realizes that we need our own life too. We told the kids when we retired that this would be our lifestyle. They are usually pretty good about it but sometimes try to lay the “guilt trip” on us. Together we enjoy being on the road. As with other things, we each have to sacrifice for the other to make it work out. I think the woman Nick talked about was very selfish and did want to sacrifice at all for her husband. I suspect that he being in the military, was gone away a lot during their marriage. She should consider what he wants to do some of the time, like cold winters, and then he should compromise and return home for summers. That’s what marriage is, compromise.

  13. I have to agree this women is selfish and only thinking of herself, if her main goal in life if to sit and watch the boob tube, she can do it in a motor home, they have TV and in motion satellites. I hope he does go alone, he has worked hard and supported her he deserves to do what he wants. If it comes to a divorce that would be sad, but it would prove she thinks only of herself. I do not thing it would come to a divorce I am sure she loves him. We know several folks who travel alone because their spouses do not want to go, but would not think of stopping their partners. Life is to short!

  14. There may be another reason for this woman’s reluctance and it may be medical. Having just lost my father to Alzheimers and seen his personality change over the years, he got anxious just leaving his home – that’s where he was comfortable. During the early stages of the disease, the loved one does a great job of covering up what is going on and this may be what is happening here. And if it is, the disease itself is to blame. Without going into a whole new discussion, simply stated, Alzheimers is hardest on the family and the family has to deal w/any issues the best they can – not easy in some instances.


  15. I remember the part of the vows that say “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer…” Forty years ago, I guess I missed the part that says you become joined at the hip forever and ever, amen, and can never have any activities of your own.

    If she doesn’t want to go RVing, that’s her choice. If he wants to go RVing, that should be HIS choice. And, more power to him…I sincerely hope he finds his own voice and does his own thing—if necessary, should it come to that, then do it without her.

    My father-in-law died at age 60, after taking early retirement due to health reasons. He never had a chance to enjoy retirement after working hard all his life. I can tell you first-hand–that is NOT the way to go out of this world.

    Nick, I saved this from an earlier post of yours:
    “Live your dreams today, because tomorrow is no more than a promise written on the wind.”

    Of course, there’s another way to express that sentiment, as well:
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a nicely well-preserved body, but, rather, sliding in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, “Wow! MAN! What a ride!”

    Oh, yeah….

  16. While our dream is not to full-time, but to “any time,” the biggest reason for my early retirement (at age 55) is “this is not a practice life.” We’ll start living our dream in only 22 days – and I’m thankful every day we share the dream.

  17. The woman sounds severely depressed. The man has options. He can try to get her to a doctor to treat the depression. And/or he can park a motorhome in the driveway and move the only TV into it being sure to get an in-motion satellite system. He might want to move her favorite seat and snacks into the RV, or bedding if she does her TV watching from bed as well, so she learns to feel at home there. Once she gets used to watching TV there, he can start moving the RV.

  18. This is not a practice life. __ I love it.
    He should experience the RV life if thats what he wants. Probably start with short trips and get her used to the idea. If she won’t bend, then hopefully he will find another RV friendly lady and leave the old wife where she wants to be watching The Price is Right and As the Stomach Turns.

  19. My initial thought was the same as Elaine’s (the wife can watch TV on the road if that’s all she wants to do), but Lu does make an interesting point regarding medical concerns. I hope the gentleman will find a way to convince his wife to travel with him, or at least not divorce him if he goes alone. My dream for many years has been to travel and explore the U.S. in a motor home. After having shared in my husband’s dreams, I believe he is finally convinced that it’s time for him to share in mine. One of his dreams was to become a pilot, which he did; the next dream was to cross an ocean, which we did. Before we left on our sailing trip I prepared my Will and said good-bye to loved ones, thinking I’d never see them again. I was terrified, even though we had spent 10 years sailing. How’s that for sharing in someone’s dream? The next dream was to build a home in Costa Rica, which we did, and that is where we’re living now. A bit out of my comfort zone, but I was willing to give it a try. We’ve both come to realize that life in Costa Rica is not what we had hoped it would be. We hope to sell our home soon, return to the U.S., and buy a motor home. So, in time, I hope we will make my dream a reality, and I hope it’s not a dream that my husband will regret sharing. He certainly has kept my life interesting.

  20. I feel sorry for both of them. He’s having his dreams crushed, she’s rotting away in front of the boob tube. Maybe she’s depressed, maybe it’s Alzheimer’s, maybe she’s just selfish & stubborn & used to getting her way. If he wants to travel, I say he should go ahead and go and if she really does divorce him (which I doubt she will) then he’s still free to travel to his heart’s content.

  21. I loved Linda Sands answer – that is just how we trained our cats to get them used to the motorhome (moved their favorite things in there, and let them experience it a little at a time in the driveway… then, away we went!).

    I feel very sorry for both parties, but particularly for the husband because he seems to have some life left that he is letting waste away. It is hard to believe his wife would even find the energy to divorce him… more likely, he would discover himself and all his life still has to offer if he went off alone. Still, it sounds as though he cares about her, and I’m sure making that decision would be difficult. Perhaps if he went off for awhile, she would agree to give it a try when he came back? Gosh, sure makes be grateful for my “livin’ life to the fullest” husband!

  22. Nick do you have any idea why every time I open the comments on your blog my internet explorer shuts down and says there is problem with your blog page?? drron

  23. Marriage is not about who wins and who loses. Marriage is about the “Team” and “Compromise.” Seems to me the wife has forgotten that she is not the only one in the marriage. Both partners in the marriage need to talk this whole situation over with each other.
    Why does the wife not want to compromise with the husband? It would be very easy for the two of them to work out some time in the RV and some time at home. Perhaps the wife is ill, perhaps the wife is selfish, perhaps it’s something else.
    The husband needs to really discuss this with the wife. If she won’t talk about it, there is counseling for the couple or for the man alone. But if he really wants to travel and she won’t budge, then he is either going to have to travel alone or stay home with her all the time. A very sad situation.

  24. I hope he gets her to see her doctor to see if there any changes in her well being. If not, he needs to go without her. She doesn’t need him to change channels for her. Life is too short to live 15 or 20 years doing what you don’t want to.
    The same should apply to wives who won’t learn to handle the RV and do the hook-ups. I know someone who had to hire a driver to take the motor home from AZ to Ohio when her husband became ill.

  25. Sold TT, bought new diesel, bought 5th wheel with recliners (husband said he needed), Husband didn’t want to full time. I retired from my full-time job because we planned to do some traveling. He agreed before we bought new truck and 5th. Last minute, husband couldn’t bear the idea of giving up his weekend job. I went ahead and did some traveling last summer. Then husband was going to work every other weekend so we could make short trips. Never happened. I would never have bought a 31 ft 5th wheel and new diesel truck if he hadn’t told me he was willing to travel, just not full-time. I spent January in the RV. Hate every minute that I am still waiting on him. I’m going again this summer and he can park at home by himself. Every time I start feeling guilty for spending money RVing, I try to force myself to remember that he said he was willing to travel. He has two motorcycles and a third torn apart so he has always done what he wanted to do while I was working. Don’t really feel like this is much of a compromise; my dreams just never counted for much.

  26. Nick I am one of the people who you and Terry helped more than you will ever know with your Reluctant RVer class. I was so sick from fear and stress that I threw up every morning for our 2 months in the RV. Then at your class at Life on Wheels in Tucson Nick said that if we go to far east or west we’ll run into an ocean and have to turn around. If we went too far north or south the border guards would turn us around. And the rest is the USA, so we’re home baby! It was like a light went off in my head! YES, home isn’t a house or an address. Home is with my husband wherever that is. I walked out of your class smiling, and have never stopped! Thank you both so very much!

  27. Sorry Ron, I have no idea. I will se if Greg or Chris can figure it out.

  28. I guess I’m a bit different (maybe quite a bit) from some of the other responders.

    While I’m relishing the thoughts of freedom and traveling, my greatest inspiration and goal is to SHARE the adventure with the beautiful lady that has been my wife for 40 years. Fortunately, at this point in time, we are both working in the same direction.

    If something were to change and she no longer wanted to travel, I might take some short trips without her, heck I do that now.

    If something happened that she couldn’t ever travel again, would I leave her (“dump” the broad” as 1 poster so eloquently put it), NOT IN THIS LIFETIME! I’ve given her more than enough pains to leave me and she hasn’t.

    Without her, traveling just wouldn’t be the same.


  29. Love the comments Nick. Do you have a book on the Reluctant RVer class that you taught? We are getting ready to go and I am having this problem and I don’t want to ruin my husbands dream. I use to be anxious to do it but I don’t know what is wrong with me. I can’t seem to get as excited as I use to. Any suggestions.

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