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3 couples describe how long-haul trucking together changed their marriages and lifestyles: ‘You’ve got to learn to fight fair’

December 27, 2021

“Team truckers” are two people who take turns driving one truck. While one drives, the other sleeps.

This allows the drivers to travel double the distance as a solo trucker and make double the pay.Insider spoke to 3 married trucking teams about the job’s impact on their relationships and lifestyles.

Stephanie and Frank Rebelo have traveled to 40 countries together over the past nine years. Their joint Instagram account features selfies from the sand dunes of Dubai to the Brazilian coast.

But the Rebelos aren’t influencers or travel photographers they’re truck drivers.

Better known as “the trucking couple” by their combined 30,000 followers and subscribers on Instagram and YouTube, Frank and Stephanie belong to a cohort of truckers who drive with their spouses. Team drivers can cover double the distance of a solo driver and can make over $100,000 a year.

Trucking teams have always been highly sought after. Now, as the national driver shortage and port congestion continue wreaking havoc throughout the supply chain, they’re in more demand than ever.

Insider interviewed three trucking couples about how their marriages have survived and even thrived while driving freight across the country.

In the beginning, I wish we had an eject button in the truck.Robert Holmes

Veteran truckers-turned-owner-operators Deb and Del LaBree have one piece of advice for couples that want to start trucking together: Spend a three-day weekend inside a walk-in closet first.

“Even prisoners have a bigger cell than a truck,” Deb told Insider. “If you don’t kill each other after that three-day weekend, you got a good chance of trucking together.”

The first six months of driving as a couple have a steep learning curve, all three teams agreed. On top of perfecting the art of driving an 18-wheeler for 12 hours straight, couples are faced with navigating a completely new type of relationship.

“Of course you love the person, but you better like that person, too,” Frank Rebelo said. “Picture being confined in an 8-by-10 box with them 24/7, 10 months a year. You’ve got to learn to fight fair.”

Fighting with your spouse while they’re driving an 8,000-pound vehicle isn’t the best idea, Rebelo explained.

In a truck, the only separation between work and home is a thin curtain between the front seats and the sleeper. And “you can’t slam the curtain,” the Rebelos and LaBrees said.

“You get into a little bit of an argument and you’re packing all your stuff,” Deb LaBree told Insider about the couple’s early trucking days. “You want to get off right there on the interstate.”

The sleeper in Carla and Robert Holmes’ truck.

We’ve been married 16 years that’s 32 in trucking years.Deb LaBree

Showers and sinks are a luxury. Robert Holmes brushes his teeth outside the driver’s seat window with a water bottle, while Carla prefers truck stop restrooms, where she puts on mascara if she can.

Team drivers divvy up shifts depending on individual preferences. Deb LaBree drives from 3pm to 3am, while her husband does the opposite. She said her husband is a “sunrise person” and she’s a “sunset person” so it works out.

During one month, the Rebelos said they drove almost 20,000 miles between New York and Southern California, rotating an “8-2-2” split shift.

“That was a month that we almost made $20,000 for ourselves with bonuses,” Frank said. But after 30 days of nonstop driving, he worried Stephanie was “never going to get back in” the truck.

So they left the truck in New Jersey and hopped on a cruise the next day.

Daily challenges in the Holmes’ truck include brushing their teeth without a sink (left) and potty training their new puppy Arrow (right).

The truck is the “third in the relationship,” Stephanie said, adding that it’s often hard to separate problems from the vehicle itself.

“You have to know your partner when your partner is on the verge of throwing the keys at your head and leaving,” Frank said. “You need to you have to figure out, do we just take two days off? Do we get a hotel room for the night? Or do I take her on a cruise?”

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