Thursday, May 15, 2014

How backpacking relates to a healthy relationship

On our second day of hiking, I was feeling very exhilarated and happy from how much fun we were having. And my naïve, silly self said to Ryan, "I think any couple that is having a tough time in their relationship should take a trip like this!!!"

Ryan had to stop walking so he could laugh, and assure me not to suggest this to any couple in trouble.

Bad relationship + survival challenges + wilderness = feed significant other the bear

He had a good point.

A relationship should probably be thriving before roughing it out in the wilderness. Why do I say this? Because you really have to function as a team. Our tent was so tiny, it literally only fit our bodies. We had to squeeze in and out one person at a time.

But as I frolicked through the forest and reflected, there were many analogies between backpacking and healthy relationships.  (or life, in general!)

  • To have a successful backpacking trip, you must be okay with "nothing to do". There aren no TV's. Books add weight to you pack. There are no cell phones. You have to have a sense of peace with just being. Self soothing. You spend time wandering through the woods, exploring, wading in the waters, and quietly waiting to see wildlife.
  • To have a successful relationship, you must be okay with "nothing to do". You shouldn't always need a "thing" or event to distract you. Precious time together as a couple is something you need to learn to be okay with. Especially if you plan on growing old together.



  • In a backpacking trip, you and your partner may have different tasks or strengths. For example, Ryan was more proficient in starting our little camp stove. So he would get the camp stove going, and do the cooking. I would gather water from the river, filter it, and do our dishes. I was better at tightly rolling up our individual articles (sleeping pad, sleeping bag, clothing). Ryan was better at efficiently placing them in our packs.
  • In a marriage, you are going to have your own individual strengths. A healthy family operates like a business. You have a CFO (that's Ryan in my family), and a DO (Director of Operations (that would be me).


  • In backpacking/hiking, you sometimes have to take your own separate paths to get to your end destination. There were river crossings during our trip with rapids, and difficult/slippery rocks. Ryan would take a completely different path to cross the river than I. And that's what had to be done so we could both cross safely.
  • In a relationship, we each have to take our own individual paths to attain success and happiness sometimes, when faced with an obstacle. As long as we are sure to keep each other in sight throughout the "crossing".


  • There are times in backpacking/hiking where you have to help each other out. Give the other person a "hand". On the contrary, there are other times where it's best to do it on your own! You won't feel the satisfaction unless you make it to the summit of that mountain with your own 2 feet. Ryan offered to carry my pack several times, but by doing it on my own, I gained great confidence in myself!
  • In a relationship, it's important to help each other out and support each other. However, there are barriers you must overcome on your own. You'll be more confident in your own strengths, and in turn love your self. And one cannot be loved or love others, until they love themselves, right?!
These might sound a little silly, but this was kind of the theme of our trip. We were "reuniting" after living in separate states for several months. So I couldn't help but relate all the little obstacles to challenges we've faced in the past 18 months of intermittently living apart!

2 comments:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I love all the analogies you drew between backpacking and healthy relationships. They are all so true.

I am glad you guys got a chance to disconnect from the noise of life and reconnect while doing something you love! I am so glad the phase of living apart is over!!

Marlys said...

That was just beautiful! I loved how you compared the two experiences and I'm so, so happy you are reunited! I feel at peace knowing Ryan is home with you. I know you have learned lots during this separation that will benefit you in so many ways but being together is the best!