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Relationships That Fuel Your Journey: Navigating the Communication Highway in Your Marriage

Welcome back to our series “Relationships that Fuel Your Journey.” Last week, we explored the complexities of friendships, shedding light on the attributes of a good friend, and encouraging self-reflection for positive changes. If you missed it, catch up with last week’s blog here 👇

This week, our attention turns to strengthening your marriage by establishing a foundation of healthy communication, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Car Talk

Bold Beginnings: Our Journey into Entrepreneurship and Marriage

In every marriage and situation, there’s a unique story, but one common thread stands out – effective communication is crucial. My husband, Robert, and I have really had to navigate communication obstacles and fight to keep a healthy connection. If you aren’t familiar with our story… In 2018, we eloped, and on our honeymoon, we ended up buying an RV. When we came home, we put our notices in at work, sold our homes and most of what we owned, and a a few months later, we embarked on a quest for a new way of living with fewer rules and more freedom – marking the beginning of what we now call our Bold Route.

We spent a whole year in close quarters, working together and building a business – Waterside RV Mobile Repairs. I had no idea about how to fix anything on an RV or what many of the tools were that I was supposed to be handing him. In fact, I really didn’t even know how to run our business on the business side of things. Each day brought a new lesson, a new skill to acquire. 

Working together as an entrepreneur couple brought a unique set of challenges. Suddenly, we found ourselves spending nearly every waking moment side by side, juggling the responsibilities of both our personal and professional lives. In contrast to our previous experiences working regular jobs where we had some space during the day, being together constantly required a heightened level of communication. 

We didn’t have any family or friends nearby to run to when things got hard. We had to work it out together, learning to rely on each other in ways we hadn’t before. It was one of the toughest yet most rewarding and freeing years of my life. The close quarters, the constant problem-solving, and the pressure of entrepreneurship stretched our patience to the limit.  Our main struggle was that our ability to communicate was far from perfect.

Navigating Communication Styles

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Robert’s method involved expressing frustration through anger and yelling, particularly when we were on-site with our mobile RV repair business. He treated me like just another guy he worked with, exhibiting the communication style of a ‘spewer.’ His anger would erupt in yelling, but by 7 pm, he was over it, wrapping his arms around me, kissing my cheek, and asking what was for dinner. On the flip side, I’m a ‘stewer.’ I kept everything in, stewing over his comments throughout the day. By suppertime, I’d entertain thoughts of dumping dinner over his head, unable to talk without spewing my pent-up frustration. The crazy part? He’d genuinely wonder what was wrong, having put the day behind him, oblivious to my lingering irritation.

While both our communication styles had their downsides (particularly his choice of words and tone), there were positives as well. Robert’s immediate approach sought resolution, aiming to enjoy the rest of the day. On the other hand, I attempted to avoid immediate reactions, keeping things in to prevent arguments. However, this led to festering anger and resentment, hindering my ability to enjoy our evenings off duty.

We kept trying to share our sides, but it never quite clicked. No matter how hard we tried, our words just didn’t match up. It was an ongoing process, both of us wanting to do better but not quite sure how to get there. 

Can you relate to this?

Torn Between Safe Choices and Bold Dreams

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After a year of operating our business in Florida, we chose to return to Kentucky. While we cherished the experiences gained, it was time for a change. I made the decision to return to teaching in a new district, while Robert continued to manage the RV business, mostly on his own. Despite our frustration over things not going exactly as planned, we both desired to work together. However, persistent communication barriers remained a challenge. We realized then, as we continue to learn now, that dreams evolve over time, and navigating this ever-changing journey is a vital part of taking the Bold Route.

Returning to teaching was refreshing in some aspects. I formed new connections with students, fostered friendships with other teachers, and engaged in something I felt genuinely proficient at—unlike my earlier struggles with understanding RV repairs. However, our desire to break free from the constraints of the 9-5 lifestyle and pursue our bold dreams and shared journey together continued to call to us.

A Turning Point

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About a year after our move back to Kentucky, we stumbled upon the concept of the 5 love languages. Robert was transporting a FEMA trailer to Florida for hurricane relief, and I decided to join him. On our long journey, I stumbled upon a comedy show by Leanne Morgan that had her sharing insights about marriages, so I hit play. She introduced the Love Languages discussing the differences in the way she and her husband communicate and receive love. It was a revelation for both of us, and we found it hilariously relatable. Intrigued, we took a 5 love languages quiz to discover our own. Despite initial reluctance, Robert participated as we drove.

Surprisingly, we both scored highest in acts of service. I also scored high in words of affirmation, and Robert in physical touch. As we drove on, I reflected on this discovery and how it revealed why we had struggled to relate in the past. I took time to think back to our arguments in Florida, recognizing Robert’s way of apologizing involved a big hug and kiss, whereas I wanted his help with dinner and actual words affirming his apology. This brought a new level of understanding into our relationship. 

I began to realize why my just using words of affirmation wasn’t enough for Robert. He needed me to focus more on helping him with tasks and expressing love through physical touch. This realization opened his eyes to the importance of his helping me accomplish daily tasks and has also led to better communication through affirmation instead of yelling.

Desiring More: The Unstoppable Call to Break Free

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Fast forward to the present—we’ve successfully broken free from the 9-5 grind. Robert has shifted his focus to something he’s truly passionate about—detailing vehicles, alongside continuing his RV repairs. I’ve embraced the role of a work-from-home mom, steering the Bold Route brand and managing our Amazon business. I still lend a helping hand to Robert whenever possible. We are dedicated to forging ahead in our journey, consistently working on improving our communication, and it’s because of this commitment that we have come so far. Life is more enjoyable, and we find ourselves dreaming more about our Bold future together.

Although there have been other pivotal discoveries in our journey, such as gaining insights into our ikigai (read more about this here) that have empowered us to stay on our Bold Route and avoid reverting to a robotic “safe” way of living, the main game-changer has been figuring out how to communicate love in a way that resonates with each other. 

As I reflect now, I’m realizing even more how crucial it was for us to stumble upon the idea of love languages during a trip a few years ago. It marked the turning point where we began making real progress in our communication – like a light bulb moment for us. This has been instrumental in enhancing our connection, making our communication more effective, and strengthening our relationship.

Our journey is an ongoing process, but I wanted to open up about what we’ve learned so far, hoping it might assist another couple out there. Whether you’re navigating the entrepreneurial path or simply aiming to strengthen your relationship, I encourage you to take on the challenge below. While understanding your spouse’s love language won’t magically solve all problems, giving it a shot can cultivate a deeper understanding, positivity, and a stronger connection in your relationship.

The 5 Love Languages: A Journey to Deeper Connection

We all express and receive love in five distinct ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. These are commonly referred to as ‘love languages,’ a concept popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman, who developed it through his extensive work as a marriage counselor.

While you might be familiar with the idea, I encourage you to dive deeper into it with your spouse. Understanding each other’s love languages can significantly impact your relationship. While it’s not the only factor in communication, being aware of these languages can help overcome challenges in your marriage. It’s a bold challenge to reassess how you communicate, recognizing the need for potential changes.

Check out our Love Language Challenge 👇

Life is short. Take the Bold Route.

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