This one is for the guys. You love getting out in the wilds, hiking and backpacking, going far and getting dirty and smelly. Your wife, however, isn’t as enamored with all of that as you are. You want to share your love of the outdoors with her, but she’s reluctant. How do you convince her to go out and stay in the woods with you?

Cathy and I were married 25(!) years before we spent our first night out in the woods together. Granted, I was never an outdoors enthusiast before this last year, but even if I were she never EVER showed any interest in camping in the out-of-doors and going on the kinds of adventures we’ve been on in the last year.

Admittedly, I have NOT done everything right. In fact, the list I am giving is probably based on the things I screwed up more than what I did correctly. I was simply blessed with a wife that could overlook my faults and love me in spite of them.

Without further ado, here are my five tips.

  1. Love her. Disclaimer: I’m no marriage counselor and don’t play one on TV. However, this first one is the most important. And remember, love is more than a feeling. Guys, we all stink at this. Your actions need to show her you love her. Take interest in her interests, do things together that she likes to do. If your wife feels like you genuinely love her, she will be more amenable to doing things with you she might not otherwise consider.
  2. Start slow. Don’t take your wife on a 10+ mile hike or week long camp-out right off the bat. First, make sure she is conditioned to do the kinds of things you have in mind, and condition yourself with her. Walks around the neighborhood, working out together at the gym. These are good times to talk about getting her out with you on your adventures. Pick easy hikes to spectacular vistas or waterfalls close to home. Slowly introduce her to the concept of longer hikes and staying out overnight. Don’t rush and don’t push, because that’s not helpful.
  3. Let her have input (when she wants it). Offer her options, let her make destination choices. Make sure she’s comfortable with distances, locations etc.  Educate her about gear, but let her choose her own gear. And if she wants you to decide something, make a decision and don’t force her to.
  4. Make the experience as nice and comfortable as possible for her. It can be tough, out on the trail. Long, hot (or cold) tiring days of hiking, sleeping (or attempting to sleep) in an unfamiliar environment, these are things everyone who pursues these types of adventures has to endure. However and especially in the beginning, you need to make things as easy on your wife as possible. Carry some of her gear, especially if she’s not as conditioned to the rigors of trail-life as you are. Involve her in the camp chores but take on the difficult/onerous ones yourself. I make it a point to make sure Cathy has a cup of coffee before she has to leave her hammock in the morning- it’s a small luxury but out in the wilds small luxuries aren’t so small. Do everything you can to make sure she enjoys herself.
  5. Be patient and be kind. I get frustrated easily. Nothing will ruin a trip faster than letting your frustration show, or worse, taking it out on your wife. Keep your emotions in check and don’t let them boil over. Don’t get in too much of a hurry, and don’t expect perfection from her or from yourself. Just take things as they come, adapt when needed and move on when appropriate. Encourage, don’t discourage. If you want your wife to keep coming out with you, make her feel like you want her out there with you.

These are just a few things you can do to get your wife out on the trail with you, and enjoy what you love best with the one you love best. Also keep in mind, that despite your best efforts your wife may decide that it just isn’t for her. If she does, respect that, but keep working on her with patience and gentleness. Good luck!

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