Jon and I have been together now for over thirteen years and married for 1 1/2. Our lifestyle is such that we both live and work together pretty much 24/7.
That’s a lot of time together.
I honestly never thought I’d have the capacity to be with someone so much and in fact, many years ago worked for a couple that did exactly this. I remember often saying, “I could NEVER do that. I’d kill them and myself before the week was over!”
When you add to our 24/7 togetherness the fact that we also travel extensively together, it becomes really remarkable that we can manage to make this work.
But it works for us.
The Key To Making It Work
There are countless things we do to dance with one another throughout our days in order to afford each other the things we need to live this way. And we have often been asked how we make it work.
I’ll certainly share with you some of the things you can do to make it work for you and your partner, but honestly? None of those things will really work without having a foundation that is either there between you or isn’t.
For us? We just like each other. I mean, seriously. If I had to choose who I’d spend time with from all the other humans I know in my life? Jon is it. He’s my favorite human in the world.
There are plenty of couples out there that might love each other, but struggle in the like department. I see it on occasion and it looks painful. Add to that sort of equation a lifestyle where you are literally in the same space while you sleep, work, enjoy leisure and socialize and it’s a recipe for constant conflict, bickering and nothing anyone wants to be part of.
You have to genuinely like the person you are with.
Without this, things just don’t flow well. Without this, the hard times of conflict which are inevitable in life together, will become that much harder to work through.
Travel, Work + Life Together 24/7
Some of the things Jon and I do to make our life work has just come naturally to our personalities. We both share a need for quiet and low stimulation at home, so we can both be home together and replenish those parts of our introverted nature that needs it.
We also function pretty independent of one another and with a lot of allowance for space. So it’s not uncommon for him or I to go off on a short trip on our own without the other. These are natural needs to who we are and when we met, at least for me, this was one of the bigger attractions. I have always needed to operate with a lot of quiet time at home and the space and freedom to retreat when I need it.
There is a mutual security in living this way. So when one person needs alone time or to go off and do something recreational on their own, the other is respectful of this and insecurities don’t get kicked up. This is specific to us. I recognize that others might not work this way, and to that I simply suggest partner up with someone that matches you in this way, because I’ve been in relationships with partners that do not thrive well with the amount of space and freedom I need and it never worked. Jon and I are well matched this way.
The other things that we have worked on and continue to practice:
- Respect boundaries. Working for yourself from ‘home’ lends itself to a lot of distraction seeking and loose schedules in which to get work done in. There are times when one partner wants a break, a distraction or simply to stop, but if the other needs to keep going, that boundary needs to be respected. Work space and work times need to be boundaries that are supported in order to give each partner the time and space they need to work and succeed at the tasks they are committed to doing. Of course, respecting boundaries applies to all aspects of life no matter what, but in the case of digital nomads, having different work demands and schedules can pose a challenge when one partner wants to play and the other cannot until work is done.
- Play. This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in work and spend day after day in front of the computer for 10-16 hours. We’ve struggled with this and alternate between spending 7days a week doing this and setting aside weekends to go off and play and explore whatever country we might be in. The new challenge which honestly, we’re failing at, is trying not to work after dinner and doing something together instead. This leads me to the net thing:
- Be Flexible. A Digital Nomad’s life, especially when paired with having two entrepreneurs in the mix, requires a lot of flexibility. Time zone changes, differing work loads and social needs means you have to adapt and roll with changes and how that might affect your individual needs. Jon is much more tied to working with specific time zones than I am and that could mean that we have different sleep schedules while on the other side of the planet. Adapting to regularly changing circumstances becomes a necessary skill for both your personal well being and that of your relationship.
- Create routine that keeps you both showing up at a regular time. Because our work demands differ depending on projects or other reasons, trying to only work a specific amount of hours in a day isn’t always realistic. So despite the fact that we are working on not working 10-16 hours in front a computer screen each day, there are more days in which we do. It’s easy to go days without connecting or communicating much beyond the usual morning and even pleasantries like this. For this reason, we commit to eating together at the very least for dinner in order to schedule in time to actually sit face to face, connect and keep our communication going. You need to schedule routine times that have you both showing up to be present together. This is also true of play time.
- Communicate. About everything. Building on the above point, communication keeps you up to date with each other. It’s easy to take for granted the fact that you know everything that is going on with the other person because you’re together all the time. This isn’t true. When you are living in such a way where things are constantly in flux, influenced by so much new stimulations such as cultures, time changes, work changes and how you respond and grow because of them, things within you might be shifting constantly. One of the beautiful things of a partnered life of travel is that you have someone to share these things with and in the process you continue to learn the other person and grow in your intimacy. Don’t take for granted that you know what is going on with your partner.
All Partnerships Are Unique
It’s true. What works for one couple might not even remotely work for another. The key is to not only understand yourself and your needs intimately, but practice communicating yourself to your partner and listening/recieving them when they share themselves with you. This is where negotiation and agreements start and it’s a conversation that needs to be continuous. Jon and I have worked this out for ourselves over the course of 13 years and it continues to be an evolution as we both as individuals continue to grow and change as we age.
To that end this list is some of the things we have found that work for us. We’d love to hear what if any list you might have in your digital nomad and partnered life. Share in the comments. We love being in dialogue about this.