How to survive as a digitally nomadic couple

Keeping the romance alive, as always

We originally wrote this article for our heroes at Escape the City

Rob is a foot-tapper. A really dedicated one. We’ve been snogging for seven years, an “item” for six, living together for five and married for just over one. But it wasn’t until seven-ish months ago that I realised just how much Rob loves to tap his right foot.

In the interests of balance, apparently I yawn a lot more than the average person.

These revelations came to light back in March, when Rob and I quit our jobs in London and moved to NYC. Our plan was to stay mainly in the city (moving to a new area every few weeks to keep things fresh), and work out how to make money as freelancers – preferably ones who could travel around the world as “digital nomads”.

We took a bunch of courses, attended heaps of events, met loads of people, worked out how to make money and had a blast. We also spent about 22.5 hours of each day in each others’ company. That was unexpected, and the one thing we didn’t plan for.

Not only were we living together (in weeny studios most of the time) and travelling together, we were also networking together and actually working on some of the same projects together. Compared to the “old days”, this was quite a change. Back when we both had jobs and separate social lives, weekends and date nights were sacred times to be together and catch up.

These days, “date nights” seem a bit unnecessary. But we still have them, because now it’s that much easier for us to fall into just being “pals”, “work buddies” and “travel mates” instead of a “loved-up married couple”.

Here are some tips if you’re planning on doing something similar to us in future.

Have date nights

And instead of talking about work, make a deal to only talk about non-work experiences you’ve had (either together or separately) recently.

Try not to focus on planning future experiences: it’s waaay too easy to waste an entire evening planning something, instead of being in the present and appreciating all the cool things you’ve been doing.

Hold dedicated meetings

For your dedicated meetings, a notepad will probably suffice

If you need to discuss work together, make sure it’s in a “meeting” rather than just over dinner or while you’re walking to the supermarket. It helps to keep work separate from everyday life.

Try to have some completely separate projects

Rob and I have a lot of shared projects as copywriters and web project managers, but we make sure we do different things too. I love website copywriting, so I do more of that than Rob. Rob’s really into property investment, so he has a blog all about that.

These separate projects help us prove to ourselves that we can still operate and do good work without relying on the other person! It also means we still get to update each other on “our day”.

Have a break from each other at least once a day

Spend time apart (preferably doing unusual exercises you’ve learnt online)

Those 1.5 hours we’re not together? They take place in the morning. Rob goes out and does press-ups and pull-ups and weird exercises he’s read about online, and I go for a run.

Try to become more tolerant

There’s no person more worthy of some extended tolerance than the one you’re madly in love with and spending almost every hour with. It’s worth it – trust me.

If you’re annoyed or angry, bottle it up

Hear me out on this one. What I mean is this: it’s so incredibly easy to get annoyed with someone you’re spending so much time with. And a lot of the time, it’s not their fault or something they can do anything about. So before you say, “Will you QUIT sneezing like that?”, hold it in, wait a while and see if it’s still worth bringing up. THEN say your piece.

Keep some things private

Weeing with the door open will never be OK.

Learn to appreciate the sound of an incessantly tapped foot

I’m trying, I’m trying…

  • Tearei McWhirter

    Great article, Mish :) My husband and I have been ‘digital nomads’ for just about three years and recently celebrated our 12th anniversary. However, we have worked together 24/7 for around a decade! I feel like I could write a book on the topic :) Love that you want to be in NYC as much as I want to be in the UK!

    • Mish

      Thanks Tearei! It’s great to know you’ve been working together 24/7 for so long – it gives us some hope!

      You must have plenty more tips than us, so perhaps you really should write a book – or at least a super-long blog post!

      I’m desperate to get back to NYC, and I’ve signed up to every cheap flight alert going!

  • Jill

    This was so spot on. I need to practice patience and tolerance, especially because our work life and married life and SO intertwined it’s easy to have minor snaps and then feel terrible 5 minutes later.

    Also, we definitely need to get better at not talking about work all of the time. It’s something we always fall into because we love it so much but it would probably be nice to turn it off here and there as well.

    I love knowing that we’re not the only couple who goes through these ups and downs :)

    • Mish @ Making It Anywhere

      I just said to Rob (who suffers from the worst hayfever), “Robbie, no one ACTUALLY needs to sneeze that loudly, do they?” I’M SO MEEEEAAAAANNNN! So yes, I clearly need to get better at practising what I preach sometimes!

      Isn’t it lovely to love work though?! We have the same thing as you: we love it, so it’s hard NOT to talk about it.

      • Jill

        hahahaha Josh loves to sneeze loudly…actually it’s like sneeze yelling. It drives me crazy!

        So I’m glad I’m not alone on that one and that there are other ‘mean’ wives 😉

        • Sophie

          This made me laugh out loud! When Carl sneezes it gives me such a fright and makes me instantly angry at him. I feel so mean as I know it would be awful to suffer from hey fever but it’s an uncontrollable emotion.

          I’m slowly training him to lower the pitch of his sneezes so they don’t scare me so much… What have I become!?!

          Great post though.. I can relate to it so much. We need to get better at dedicated meetings. Currently our best business discussions happen while riding around town on a scooter.. strange but effective!

          • Mish @ Making It Anywhere

            Gosh – I’m impressed. Whenever we’ve been on a scooter, we’ve both been so petrified that we can’t even have a regular chat – let alone a business meeting!