Years married: Five whole months! (As of this week!)
Location: We met in Austin, TX, but in our five months of marriage, we’ve lived in over 35 states in our RV. Oceanfront, mountainside, and everything in between.
Occupation/Hobbies/Etc.: We are both writers and filmmakers. Heath is also a consultant for an author friend. In our minimal free time, we love walking around the many places where we visit and exploring national parks. We love our travel lifestyle, so every day for us is a new adventure, full of opportunity.
Favorite ice cream flavor: H: Vanilla with crushed Oreos (Not Cookies N' Cream, I make this on my own!). A: Coffee ice cream with cinnamon, peanut butter, cookie dough, almonds, and mini chocolate chips mixed in (I used to work in an ice cream shop).
Contact: Check out alyssapadgett.com and heathpadgett.com. Also, check out this recent CNN article, The Huffington Post clip, and Fox News Clip to get the full scoop.
The Little Things
Q. Will you share with us some of the little things you do together, or for each other, that nurture your marriage?
A: Heath makes me coffee every morning. He’s a morning person and I…struggle. Coffee coaxes me out of bed. We’re also really good about reciprocal back massages. If I need a massage, I’ll massage him first and vice versa. In a weird way, that’s what makes us balance each other out so well. We never refuse to massage the other person and when you’re cramped in an RV driving all day, a massage is necessary.
H: When we were about to start long-distance dating, Alyssa purchased a journal to travel between us so we could always write each other. We keep that journal in our RV now and still write each other love notes, even if we’re sitting across the table from one another.
Q. Can you give us a few examples of things he/she has done for you that may seem small, but that have made a big difference?
A: Heath unclogs our sink, takes out the trash, and dumps our RV. I never want to do any of those things, and he does them all willingly. When you live in a small space (our RV is 29 feet long), you must constantly clean up behind you. If we don’t clean every day, our home feels cramped and unwelcoming. I was worried before we married about Heath being messy, but the RV has taught us both how to be hyper-aware of cleaning up after ourselves.
H: I like it when she makes dinner. It makes me feel like she cares and wants to take care of me.
Q. What specific ways has continued dating in marriage nurtured your marriage? Why do you feel dating is so vital in nurturing a marriage?
A: Dating is the only thing that keeps us sane! We physically take ourselves out of the RV and go on a walk, stretch our legs, and try to talk about something other than work. Every once in a while, we will go out for a meal, but we really can’t afford to. Instead, we’ll dress up and I’ll cook something fancy. We’ll pop open a bottle of Wal-Mart’s $3 wine and light a candle. Plus, so many RV parks are built in forests, on rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains—we almost always have a view. It’s like five-star dining.
H: Dating helps us not take each other for granted. We still need to learn about each other. Dating helps us enjoy each other’s company so much more because we spend so much time working together. Sometimes we need to take a break from talking work. Then we can just get to know each other and check in with our emotions.
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
A: When Heath and I were in Las Vegas, early on in our travels, we were leaving the grocery store because we had been out of food. I went back inside to send an email on their WiFi really quick, while Heath unloaded the groceries. When I walked back inside the RV, Heath was all dressed up and told me to put on a dress because he was taking me out to eat. We went to a casino and ate $2 tacos. They were delicious, we were highly overdressed, but it was incredibly fun and spontaneous.
H: Back in Washington, we parked our RV at a friend’s parent’s house for a couple days because we needed to fix our radiator. One night, Alyssa cooked us mashed potatoes, green beans, and salmon and dressed up for a quiet dinner in the RV. It was a little thing, but it’s my go-to favorite date.
Q. What are the obstacles you have faced in going on dates, and what have you done to ensure that dates happen?
A: With Heath and I, we are together 24/7. We work together, eat together, drive together, live together. That’s the beauty of our RV life. But at the same time, we are always together. We experience every moment of life together, so it’s really difficult to make time for a date or feel like we need to spend one-on-one time together. But even though we experience everything together each day, we still take time each night to decompress and “catch up” with each other.
H: We don’t have a car other than our RV on this trip, so quick trips out to restaurants aren’t possible. To be creative, sometimes on a day after filming (especially after we work in restaurants) we will hang around and eat dinner or dessert together. Just the other day we worked at the Hagley Museum in Delaware and spent extra time in the afternoon walking around the estate together. We also often do sightseeing dates where we take an entire day off from work to hike in Glacier National Park or visit Niagara Falls.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
A: For Heath to know how I feel emotionally or to know when the things he has said have hurt me. I’m an "acts of service," type of lover, so whenever Heath takes out the trash or does the dishes, I feel close with him.
H: Constantly communicating what is on our hearts and sharing our deep feelings with each other. And just wanting to know those things about the other person.
Q. There are many forms of intimacy in marriage, emotional intimacy being one of them. What does emotional intimacy look like to you, and what things have helped you draw closer together emotionally?
A: Emotional intimacy means giving my heart to Heath repeatedly. I need to constantly share my heart with him if I want to be close with him. (Something I often forget, perhaps assuming that he can read my mind.) After each day of filming, Heath and I film a recap video while we drive. It’s all for our documentary, but in a lot of ways, it’s therapy for us to thoroughly explain how our day was and how we felt about it. It keeps us reflective and sharing.
H: We face trials—like RV breakdowns, handling finances, getting places—enduring all of these problems helps us grow together.
Q. What other things help you nurture the intimate relationship you have with your spouse?
A: We are good at taking hug breaks. After bickering about small things, when we know the other person is stressed, or when we finally park the RV after driving a treacherous New England road, we take a minute to hug each other and recalibrate before moving on. It makes all the difference in how we relate to each other.
H: Intentional time together. Just me and Alyssa, no TV, or phones, or work talk. Just us.
Values to Live By
Q. What is your spouse’s strongest trait?
A: Heath does stuff. Hard things, messy things, impossible things, unconventional, wild, impressive things. He can do anything. More importantly, he does things. He doesn't just talk about it.
H: Alyssa’s strongest trait is that she is very others-oriented. She’s constantly doing things for us. Things like keeping us on schedule, charging our batteries, managing all of our cameras, etc. She does it without expecting thanks from me or without being asked. She wants to serve our family.
Q. What is your favorite characteristic about your spouse?
A: Heath inspires me that anything is possible. He is always thinking bigger and dreaming up new adventures for us. But Heath’s greatest trait is that he actually executes on his big ideas. He says “lets film a documentary in all fifty states,” and then cold emails a company to sponsor us. He dreams big and doesn’t give up.
H: I love her goofiness and love for adventure. (Hence how we ended up on this trip.)
Q. How have those qualities nurtured your marriage?
A: So far, our entire marriage has existed on interstates and back roads. All we know is adventure because we’ve never “settled” together. Heath mentioned to me often before we married that his biggest fear in life was settling. Heath feels nourished when he’s doing big things and making a difference.
H: She helps me to not take life too seriously, but also not to settle - to strive to live a life outside of my comfort zone. I feel like this nurtures our marriage because we are our best selves when we are striving for big things.
Routines and Rituals
Q. What things do you do day-to-day that keep you connected?
A: We are driving somewhere almost every day. In the RV, I could be walking around, working, and doing other things, but I stay in the front seat with Heath almost the entire drive. (To make sure he follows the GPS!)
H: We’re pretty good about cutting off technology when we eat together. We usually have some sort of quality time every evening, even if it’s just watching the Walking Dead with each other.
Q. Do you have any special places, things you say to each other, or other mini-traditions that are unique to your marriage?
A: Not yet! We stop at “every” state line to take a selfie, but we miss states where the state lines are on bridges or busy interstates. If we had a special place, it would be Granby Ranch in Colorado. On our 3rd date, I flew to Colorado to join Heath’s family ski trip. It was spur of the moment, I lied to my boss to skip out on work, and it was the best week of our lives. That’s where we fell in love—while he laughed at me for falling off the ski lift.
H: RV Olympics! We can get our RV hooked up at a campsite in under four minutes. We have a set routine for getting in and out of each place. That’s our online “tradition.”
Q. Do you have any routines/rituals around special occasions like anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, etc.
A: We haven’t spent enough of those together yet!
Q. What specific suggestions can you share that have helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
A: Live in a small space where you can’t run away from your problems. Space is the enemy of resolution.
H: Take time to cool down before trying to work things out. Don’t try to fix everything while you’re still upset.
Q. How do you talk about hard things, or tough issues where you don’t see eye-to-eye?
A: Heath makes me. I’m working to be better at talking through our problems, but it isn’t my strong suit. Heath prods me and asks me the right questions and helps me open up.
H: We acknowledge that we’re different people, and that’s okay. Just because we think differently, doesn’t mean we don’t love each other.
Q. What principles and/or practical suggestions have helped you, as a couple, manage your finances? What marriage-related financial tips could you share with other couples?
A: A couple of times a week, I go through our bank account and record every transaction in a spreadsheet. I divide by lodging costs, gas, groceries, etc. I can keep Heath filled in on exactly how much we have and how much we need to make. For me, being type A helps me keep the information organized and simplified. Plus, we know we aren’t making money. We know we aren’t turning profits or saving right now. We’re losing money to follow our passion. Once we signed onto less financial freedom and a more fulfilled life, everything about finances became easier.
H: We go over our finances at the end of every month (and sometimes more often). It’s inspiring. We’re gamifying it. We also keep a blessings journal. We record free meals, cups of coffee, anything that is gifted to us. This week a wonderful florist gifted us a bouquet of extra flowers she had after hearing we were on our honeymoon. Keeping track of our blessings keeps our hearts on track. Finances are less of a head calculation and more of a heart check. As long as we are grateful, our bank statements don’t really matter.
Q. How has working through conflict together nurtured your marriage and brought you closer together?
A: Without conflict, there is no growth. When I remind myself of that, it makes me want to bore through our troubles together knowing that a better future is on the other side. No matter what, I know Heath is always with me.
H: We feel like more of a team when we get through the hard stuff together. There’s no one else around to help us on the road. When the roof leaks, when our fridge breaks, we have no choice but to get through the challenge together as a team. We lift each other up.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
A: Give each other your best selves. For Heath and I, that meant quitting our office jobs. Office jobs—namely sitting all day doing mindlessly easy or repetitive work—made us crabby and unhappy. Now that we are both chasing our dreams, we are nicer to each other. We have more hope and energy, all because we chose to do what makes us happy. If your spouse doesn’t want you to chase your dreams, you married the wrong person. Doing something that you love makes you a better person, I’m certain of it. Heath and I are better now than we could have ever been if we hadn't have taken this extended honeymoon.
H: Don’t put too much pressure on your spouse to be perfect. We all mess up. Don’t try to change them. Just love them for who they are. Encourage them to be the person that they want to be. And more than anything, be their best friend.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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