A theme that has risen to the surface during this trip is the concept of ‘roles’. In our life in Cincinnati, Jose and I both had our own jobs, income, cars, gym memberships, and circles of friends. We were independant in the same way most couples are when they meet as adults. Since the beginning, something important when establishing our relationship was a sense of equality. In our lil urban apartment, we both cooked, both cleaned, and both worked.
Now our life on the road has taken this concept of ‘roles’ to a whole new level.
On a daily basis, there are a million decisions to be made a double million task to be accomplished. (Double million). We noticed how much we had to rely on each other and how many tasks needed to be accomplished. Who does what? Should we focus on our strengths or practice improving our weaknesses? Should I trust that the other person can handle it if I think I can do it better? Should we do a task together or divide and conquer?
Believe me. There are tasks. Set up tent, make the fire, cook the food, find water, do the dishes, organize the car, drive long hours, navigate to next location, plan next leg of the trip, update family/friends, update our budget, talk to the police officers at the check points, etc.
Some of the roles include:
Social Media/Blog/Update family Manager
The first week on the road was nothing but easy. Not only did we bump horns with those double million decisions, but our engine blew and we slept in a junk yard for a week eating ramen noodles. I reached out to my girls for advice. There is a Facebook group called “Women Overlanding the World” and it is basically a virtual ‘girls happy hour’. Its our space to laugh, vent, ask questions, and provide advice for all women living on the road. The feedback I received was overwhelming. To compile their advice and add a bit of my own, I leave you with these things:
- Play to your strengths. Know how to do each task, but do what you’re good at. It’s important to know HOW to do each task but repetition makes you more efficient.
- Communicate. Talk everything out. And the hardest part of communicating is really listening in order to understand the other person.
- Company. Come on guys, you know your most fav person in the world can still drive you a little cray cray. We’ve been traveling with another couple for 2 weeks now. Being surrounded by like minded people and healthy friendships is so refreshing.
- Don’t force it. Our roles have naturally developed over time. He starts setting up the tent while I start arranging the kitchen. I start driving while he maps out our next destination. One month in and I’ve already seen this develop.
- Cross-train. Even if roles develop naturally, it is important to KNOW how to do each task. I can start a fire and check the fluids in the car, and Jose is a master at the grill.
- Space. Life on the road is living in tight quarters. Your living room, kitchen and bedroom is all within your car. It’s easy to step on each others toes when trying to complete a project. Jose is installing lights in the living room while I make guac in the kitchen. But really we are standing right next to each other. It’s okay to go for a walk, read a book, write, and do our own thing for a bit.
- Take care of each other. On the road, you rely on the other person a lot more. There are so many opportunities to make the other person’s job a little easier and it goes a long way. If I can tell he’s hangry.. I mean hungry, I start looking for a taco stand. He stops for all my baño breaks.
- Don’t give input. Honestly, we haven’t figured this one out yet lol. One of the seasoned overloading woman suggested to let each other do each others task or be in their role without the other person saying HOW they should do that task or what they should be doing differently. Jose has those full blooded puerto rican opinions and my red hair flare can burn. We are still very opinionated about whatever the other person is doing… but hoping that will work itself out.
- Slow down. Life in the states was always fast, efficient, and goal oriented. It’s good to focus on a goal together: make dinner. But once its accomplished, sip the wine and enjoy each others company.
- Light. Don’t take anything too personally. If there is tension or stress it is mostly likely not because of the other person but rather an external factor. Every day is so different. A brand new campsite, a brand new city, and a brand new set of challenges. If tension rises, keep it light. One moment can be stressful but the very next moment is exhilarating.
We are working out the kinks and settling into our roles. It’s very little about ‘gender’ roles and much more about finding the rhythm that makes sense with your partner. These roles are evolving naturally.
Put on a little Radiohead, relax, and just role with the punches.