A new book dishes out relationship advice.
By Janet Groene, F47166
January 2009 FMC magazine
Are you and your traveling companion living together without a legal relationship? Cohabitating is especially complicated for full-timers, because many different state laws come into play depending on your legal addresses, where your assets are, and the laws of the state you happen to be in when one or both of you encounter a legal or financial problem.
Now a very helpful new book by John Curtis, who has a Ph.D. in human resource development and a master’s degree in counseling, called Happily Un-Married: Living Together & Loving It! ($16.95, Robert Reed Publishers) is touted as “an official fitness guide” for all twosomes who live together. And for those traveling by motorhome, where living quarters are tight (and grow tighter if you’re arguing), this book can have beneficial lessons for any age, gender, or relationship.
In the book, Dr. Curtis observes that for the first time in American history, more couples who live together are unmarried than married. It’s a 21st century reality that more than 10 million unmarried couples cohabitate. That’s an increase of 72 percent between 1990 and 2000 alone. The book takes no moral stand. It’s a simple, straightforward business model and activity book about making a relationship work for the good of those involved in the relationship, as well as their friends and family, and society.
While the book has a him-and-her focus, its goal is to create a harmonious, long-term arrangement for anyone.
The first step, says Dr. Curtis, is to create a vision of your relationship, then actually write a relationship vision statement. Once you have that, you can work together to build on it. The “business model” theme continues throughout the book. If you’ve ever been an employer or employee, you’ll understand the familiar parallels.
Chapter two helps readers understand the relationship’s objectives. It goes beyond frivolous answers such as “let’s hit the road together and see where it leads” and addresses topics such as mutual priorities, how to use your resources, and what measures to use to define the success of a relationship. These break down into what Dr. Curtis calls SMART guidelines:
S “” Specific objectives you can work toward together.
M “” Measurable objectives that allow you to see if you’re making progress together.
A “” Achievable objectives you can truly expect to accomplish.
R “” Relevant. In short, says Dr. Curtis, don’t lose touch with reality.
T “” Time bound. Have a reasonable time expectation, such as seeing so many states in two years.
Chapter three takes a clear-eyed business view of money and how it affects a relationship. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, as well as your partner, as you review your own history with money and how your attitudes are based on the way your parents and grandparents viewed money.
With that out of the way, you can proceed to “branding” your relationship. Meeting new people in your travels, and introducing your partner to your family, you need a firm grasp of who “we” are. Then, after you have a “brand,” you’re in a position to market it. Picture an imaginary family gathering and ask yourself how you’d introduce your partner. If you have marketed your “brand” well, you’ll know the answer.
The book then goes into “mindstyles,” a valuable concept in these days of blended families. Continuing with his business theme, the author calls it “mergers and acquisitions.” Couples of all ages and types will benefit from the chapter on Job Descriptions. “Whether it’s dishes, duties, or daily chores,” Dr. Curtis quips, “we all have expectations of what we are to do, what a partner is expected to do, and what we won’t do no matter what.”
Do you have to walk the dog? Does your partner have to balance the checkbook? If you wash, must she dry? Who scrubs the barbecue grill? Dr. Curtis provides a worksheet that won’t apply for every full-timing couple but can serve as a great example as you create your own.
“Relationship Feedback” is another chapter in which you’ll learn not just to communicate but how to create a feedback process, and then give and receive positive reinforcement.
The book concludes with receiving your relationship “paycheck,” followed by what Dr. Curtis calls Commencement, or the Beginning of the Rest of Your Relationship.
There are thousands more thoughts in this timely and inspiring book. By filling in the blanks, you and your partner will recognize, discuss, and work out feelings about family, spirituality, intimacy, health and wellness, finances, careers, and much more. It’s enormously helpful to write things down, workbook-style, so you can refer to them later. Even long-married couples will find eye-opening concepts in these pages.
Dr. Curtis is a researcher, organizational development consultant, author, business trainer, and a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Happily Un-Married is available at bookstores and online booksellers, or can be ordered from www.wecohabitate.com.
Lost camera? After I reported that www.ifoundyourcamera.blogspot.com could match up camera losers with camera finders, Rocky Larson e-mailed another idea for getting back your lost camera. “I did something with my camera that you might pass along to speed up lost camera retrieval,” he reported. He noted that his digital camera has a recording feature when the removable memory is not inserted; so, he printed his contact information in large type on a piece of paper (print your name, address, phone number, e-mail address or whatever you choose) and then took a picture of it that remains in the camera.
Full-timers’ insurance needs are always a popular topic. Lenny Richileau, director of specialty claims for Nationwide Insurance, offered these insights. He noted that RVs are more likely to be broken into when they are in storage rather than in use. “However, that doesn’t mean full-timers should let their guard down,” Mr. Richileau said. He suggested that full-timers invest in a deadbolt lock and an alarm system. “A deadbolt prevents thieves from using a common key to unlock the door of your vehicle,” he explained.
From an insurance expert’s “insider” perspective, he observed, “RV owners face petty thieves rather than the organized rings that target automobiles. RVs are rarely stolen in drive-away theft. More often a vehicle is ransacked for small items. Full-timers can avoid theft by hiding small valuables and leaving blinds open so a thief is not tempted to break in for what is assumed to be inside the vehicle. Additionally, RVers should be sure to check a campsite for safety measures. Cameras and/or 24-hour security will help keep you protected.”
Do you agree that it’s safer to leave the blinds open, closed, or some of each? Voice your opinion by sending an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include FMCA in the subject line.
Edward Basta, product manager for American Modern Insurance Group, agreed that full-timers have to be aware of their unique insurance needs. He said, “Many RV insurance policies will also cover items in storage while you’re on the road as well as other structures on your campsite or RV lot.” It’s one more insurance feature to look into when reviewing your policy.