View Full Version : Does anyone else have this problem?

08-11-2006, 22:08
I've got a problem that I wonder how many others share. My wife doesn't share the same passion as I do for hiking or the trail. I'll give a long explanation of what I mean. I had always heard of the AT, but my first encounter of it was back in 1999. I had just returned to the states from an overseas military assignment and I was living in central Georgia. One weekend I decided to drive up into the mountains just to look around because I have always been a huge outdoors person ever since I was a kid. I didn't realize where the trail was until I saw several places where the trail crossed the road. Over the next year I made a couple of weekend hiking trips and needless to say I was hooked. In 2000 I told my wife I was seriously thinking about planning to thruhike the trail when I retired from the Air Force. Her first reaction to that was "Hey, if that's something you want to do". I actually started to cry because I was so happy that it APPEARED she supported me. Over the next year and a half as I continued to plan and prepare she realized I was actually going to go through with it and her attitude started to change. I think she figured I would grow out of the idea. We all know that's not something you just grow out of. When she finally came to grips with reality that I was actually going to do it she started saying things to me like "I can't promise you that I'll be here when you get back". I ended up having to compromise with her and do an abbreviated hike just to keep the peace. When I left Springer on March 9th, 2002 it was with the knowledge that I was only going to go as far as Hwy 501 in Pennsylvania because that was the closest road crossing to my dad's house where he could come and pick me up. At the time I was just happy to have had the opportunity to at least do what I was doing. However, every time I called home she would always ask me if I was ready to come home yet. By the time I reached Damascus she was practically telling me to get home. After the Shenandoahs I just stopped calling home because I was tired of hearing the complaining. I had already compromised once. I reached Pennsylvania on the exact day that I had planned because I was so prepared for that hike. I was trail hardened and could have kept right on going, but I had to stop. After I got home she was mad at me for about 2 weeks. In 2004 I geared up my wife (at her request) and took her up for a week on the trail just to show her what it was like. She enjoys the outdoors and likes to camp, but I think she thought I was out for a 3 month vacation. Well, she lasted about 4 days and realized real fast that it was hard work. I give her all the credit for giving it a try, but I think it really opened her eyes to how hard it really is.

Fast forward to the present. I had always vowed I would complete the trail some day. A situation has arisen which may present a window of opportunity. I currently have a well paying job with a military contractor. However, our operation will be closing down due to military base closures and realignments. I'm expecting to be laid off from my job around May of next year. Do you see the window opening? I am trying to put myself in a secure financial situation where I may be able to take 3 months off from starting another job and complete the northern half of the trail next summer. However, I'm not sure what my wife will have to say about it. I remember all too vividly the crap I had to put up with the last time so I don't know how to approach this. Does anyone else have this problem with an unsupportive spouse? How did you handle it?


SGT Rock
08-11-2006, 22:18
Wow, hard question. But I understand where you are coming from. My wife has never done an overnight backpacking trip EVER.

I started by letting her know it was a dream of mine but I thought it was one I would never get to do. I often talked about it and hiked a lot of weeks and weekends letting her know how much I enjoyed it each time. I tried to get her involved in my hiking life as much as possible. Finally we were talking about it one day and she told me I better do it so I would shut up about it. Now she backs the idea 100% (at least she says so. I retire from the Army in 2008 and will hit the trail 2 days later.

Now the time-line is the key. I started planning in 1997. She told me I better do it in 2002. So it will take you about 5 years of consistent planning and work to get her to agree if you work like I do on it. And then you need to give her a plan that will give her 6 more years after she agrees to figure out how to deal with your hike.

Based on your situation I don't know if you have that kind of time.

08-11-2006, 22:22
I feel for you. I just went through something similar over a medical condition. My wife I was away fo my wife for a year getting treatment, and after about 10 of me noticing things were changing over via the telephone, she finally told me she didnt want me home. I wanted to kill her, for leaving me in a such a time. Well, in the end, she was just so scared that I was going to die, it was her way of dealing with it. We have worked through it and all is now ok.
I would say you need to find out what her issues are with you hiking and deal with each one at a time. Do not get angry or upset with her, one at a time. Try taking her camping or hiking and while there, tell what appeals to you about the outdoors. There are a couple similar threads on Whiteblaze already, an almost exact one if I remember right. I wish I could find it for you. There was some good advice on it.

Almost There
08-11-2006, 22:55
Definitely a tough situation. It a dream of mine to thru hike one day, and so one day I will do it. She is honestly, ok with the idea of me doing a thru. Will she miss me? Heck Yeah! Will I miss her? Definitely! However, the time is not now. The thing you gotta be careful about is the fine line between chasing a dream...and being selfish. You need to know your wife. Alot of times, we, as guys look for the answer we want and don't see the truth behind the answer. Many wife's will say...Go for it! Not really thinking how serious we are, or hoping that we'll realize the heartbreak they'll go through while were off for a few months. They are our ultimate supporter in a good marriage always pushing us to chase our dreams because they love us. I know there are many times I have wanted to do something but have held back after pausing to consider the effect my actions would have on her. We sometimes need to "really" listen to what they are saying. If the answer is out of line with who we really know our wives are...then we need to question, "Is it the right time to do this?"

Each couple is different. Neither my wife, nor I is ready for me to thru hike at this moment in time. Perhaps by retirement life changes will make it something positive in all ways, and I think for me that will be the time I can do it.

Others have done it with their spouse and have said to me that it was the only way they could have done it.

While still others have left wife and children and had their full support and blessing!

Then there are those that decide the trail is still more important than their marriage...that is their choice. The benefits or consequences are their own for the reaping.

Know which one you fit into, personally, I know when my wife and I are on the same page. If we're not then I have to weigh the consequences of my actions, however, I do know this...nothing the trail could ever give me could ever replace the love of my life. The trail will always be there.

Either way, my best to you and your decision...it's a tough one!

08-11-2006, 23:25
Walk a mile, drop your phone and high tale it out of there. Then call her when your about out of New York. Every little bit, stop, look, and most importantly listen, that the sound of life before marrage- silence!

08-12-2006, 00:20
I count myself lucky in that my wife shares my fascination with the outdoors. We had our first "date" hiking up Kephart Prong to Icewater Spgs. shelter and on to LeConte and we spent our honeymoon, twenty years ago this month, in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. She would support me in a thru-hike, if my practice would let me go long enough to do it (and the old bod would hold up)...

08-12-2006, 08:45
Thanks for everyones support. Like I said, my wife likes the outdoors. She likes to camp and fish, but the hiking thing was tough for her. At least she realized just how much work it really is. It's not that I wish she shared the passion for it like I do it's just that I wish she understood my passion more. By taking her out on the trail I thought she would. If I don't get to complete my hike next year, no big deal. God will give me the opportunity when He's ready to give it to me.

08-12-2006, 09:49
Perhaps a compromise. Is there some place she has always dreamed of going? Maybe you can make plans to go there once you get back from your hike.

08-12-2006, 10:00
Last year I went through the same kind of thing with my wife. She protested and then supported it 110%. But now.... I am paying the dues.. Now she says "I supported you all last year... " All I can say is "yes dear, Anything else you want done?" I am not complaining, It was all worth it. But make no mistake I am in indentured servitude until my next hike.....

08-12-2006, 12:38
I have been away from home many times since I've retired, mostly on the AT but lots of other trails. My bride will retire next year and I will try to involve her into my trips. If your wife likes the ods but not hiking have her follow you along with your vehicle this way you can camp, motel etc as you go along Just get her involved tell her that you couldn't do it without her. Good Luck sounds like you're gonna need it.

Brushy Sage
08-12-2006, 20:25
Sarge, it's good to see your name. You and I started a few days apart in 2002; you went farther than I did. In my opinion, your wife is hesitant because she is afraid of what a long separation will do -- to you, to her, and to the marriage. And that's understandable, because both partners do change over time. Now that she has experienced your absence and then return after hiking half the AT, she has more of a basis for understanding what it is like. Perhaps you can discuss with her what it was like for her, and give her some assurance. She might not shout for joy if you go again (if she does, you are in trouble), but she might be more accepting of the notion.

08-12-2006, 20:31
ya cant go without her permission. it would kill your freedom to hike unfettered.mexican saying:"a house dosnt stand on the ground, it stands on a woman."

Almost There
08-13-2006, 10:52
ya cant go without her permission. it would kill your freedom to hike unfettered.mexican saying:"a house dosnt stand on the ground, it stands on a woman."

Ain't dat da Truth!!!:D

08-13-2006, 11:05
Every little bit, stop, look, and most importantly listen, that the sound of life before marrage- silence!

That's also what a marriage sometimes sounds like, right before it ends.

08-13-2006, 18:13
Over the next year and a half as I continued to plan and prepare she realized I was actually going to go through with it and her attitude started to change. I think she figured I would grow out of the idea.

Women do have these control issues sometimes, but true love and devotion is giving the ones you love the freedom to follow their dreams. What is 3 or 4 months compared with a lifetime?

It is sad to hear that women are "holding this over" their men's heads when they get back, like now they owe you something - makes all of us look bad!

I am sure this will work out for you, and hope you are out on the trail sometime soon ;-)

08-13-2006, 20:11
Thanks again for all your feedback. I know that my wife really does understand what being out on the trail means to me. We are a Christian family and she understands how spiritual it is for me to be out in God's world like that. It makes me feel closer to Him. When I took her out on the trail we stayed at Tray Mtn shelter one night and I took her up to the summit to watch the sunset. If that doesn't make you understand then nothing will. Others mentioned things about giving her something she wants. I feel I do that every day. Believe me she gets a lot of what she wants! I know a lot of you can relate to that! We now live in southern Georgia instead of central Georgia because that's what she wanted. Within a month of my return from the trail we were packed and moved so she could be down here closer to her family. I felt that was the least I could do for her for allowing me at least some time on the trail and for following me around the world in the military for the last 7 years (at that time) that we had been married. Here's another interesting point for those in the military or used to be in the military (Sgt Rock, I know you can relate to this). During the last 7 years I was in the Air Force I was fortunate enough to be in a job where I did not routinely have to deploy. The 3 months I was on the trail was the longest time we had ever been apart! I think that may have been a factor. The bottom line is that she does understand what being on the trail means to me, I have sacrificed a lot for the opportunity to do it, and I try to allow her the things she wants in return. I guess I'm just reluctant to bring up the subject again. Perhaps I can drop some subtle hints to her about the timing of my lay off and see if SHE suggests the idea. Hmm, sounds like a plan.

08-13-2006, 22:01
Get TREK and watch it together some night ;-)

08-14-2006, 10:51
Christian men tend to get confused about the role of the husband in the family. Scripture tells men to "give up their lives" for their marriage. We understand that to the point of being uncomfortable with it. Essentially it means that we do not act like bachelors with wives.

It's not an "I get, you get" type of situation. It's a "We" situation. What is the "We" part of you spending 6 months on the Trail? If you can communicate that to her, your task is much easier.

08-14-2006, 13:43
I am one blessed individual. My wife loves me so much that it hurts, and yet she lets me hike anywhere, anytime, for however long I need to.

I have no idea what I did to get that from her, but I'm glad that I did!

Gray Blazer
08-14-2006, 13:54
Sarge, I like the idea of making her think it's her idea.

08-14-2006, 14:48
My first hike: wife not totally happy I was going, each time I called she was more upset.

Second hike: I was the one missed her, went home early.

3rd: We missed each other, but then she & the kids (2 boys) took their own vacation to Fla with some friends so we both had a great time. Can't get homesick if there aint no one there to miss.

4th: Her: "So when you leaving?" Then: "Back already? I thought you wern't comming home till tomorrow.

5th & subsequent hikes: See #4 above.

Yesterday: "So when you going hiking again, and how long will you be gone?" Happily, if I go in May, I get 48 hrs vacation from one year, then on May 18th I get another 120 hrs vacation so I can be gone for,,,,, wait for it,,,, over 3.5 weeks (I work 2 days a week, or 48 hrs / week on a 24 / 48 schedule with EVERY saturday off).

I havn't figured it up yet, but I think a month of hiking is possible,

doctari trying to be calm

still trying


That went better than expected. :D

BTW, wife will be visiting with her best friend in NC, which involves a 30 mile detour to drop me off at my start point & about 0 miles out of the way to pick me up again. Just works out that way.


08-14-2006, 15:10
Maybe the two of you need to watch (or re-watch) City Slickers with Billy Crystal. That story line reminds me of what a lot of guys get out of the AT. They're able to find their "smile" again. (OK, perhaps that's a little too simplistic or hokey, but it's worth a shot.)

08-14-2006, 15:22
Was supposed to say "about 60 miles out of the way" not "0 miles out of the way"

08-14-2006, 15:32
Sarge. Don't listen to any of us. Whatever you do will work out somehow but we ain't gonna be right beside you during any drama situations on the front end..... We people are silly creatures and we can't seem to predict, very well, what we ourselves will do in a situation much less someone else. Now in my case, my wife and I got a divorce, I hiked another few hundred miles, we're back together and I'm working a plan for next hike already & she is now very supportive....much more than ever before! Strange but kinda nice! Go figure. :)

08-14-2006, 18:22
I am so miserable when my wife is not with me, it's almost like being at home!

How can I miss her, if I don't go away?

Actalluy, I am very lucky. My wife puts up with it when I'm off hiking for 10 days. One key is to give her plenty of warning about the specific days I'll be gone. Hiking a bit faster to get home ahead of schedule also works out well.

Hiking with a family member or with a friend makes it easier to be accepted, too, although now I find that harder to do. It does help, too, that my wife used to like to backpack until she developed a bad back that does not enable her to carry a multi-day pack. She does like dayhikng, but that usually means motels and fine dining.

Do extra work around the house to earn days off for the trail.

08-14-2006, 18:35
i just checked to see if you were rambler from maine age 40 somthing who hiked half the trail this year and was called home for his daughters birth. your not him but you write just like him! know him?he loves his wife alot and they knew he had to stop short of a thru when he started. but at the end when she called and said she was ok, he diddnt belive her and got concerned and went home. she diddnt have the heart to directly tell him she needed him but he got the message loud and clear. so then i called him when i quit hiking a month later and he was great.
rambler if your listening,...JOIN WHITE BLAZE!

08-14-2006, 23:37
Just did a quick read of the replies here, and didn't see any with my particular situation. I LOVE to camp,hike, and kayak, but I can not seem to budge my boyfriend out of the house. We live very near some great spots in the North Cascades of Washington state.....but no....I've gotten him to go camping with me once. So when I told him that I want to take two monthes off spring 2007, he said that he would help me get everything together for it, but that was it. So I will have to say that I really am nervous about hiking the AT by myself. Hopefully I will find someone on the "hook-up" page who likes a slow pace!!


08-15-2006, 06:26
This is a problem for women too, as you can see by Nicodemus' post above. So I think it goes both ways.

Why should hiking be different from any other activity that you do differently?

You don't all eat the same, have the same hobbies, etc. and often opposites attract. This is part of life, it's sad when somebody tries to keep you from doing something like hike the AT. Go for it and smile knowing you followed your dream!

01-04-2007, 22:09
I have a happy update to this story. About 2 months ago my wife called me in to the kitchen. Out of the blue she says "Hey, when you lose your job next summer why don't you go and finish the trail!" I couldn't believe it. I had never mentioned this at all to her. I was worried about how I was going to bring up the subject to her and she was the one who brought it up. I'm still trying to get the logistics worked out, but God willing it looks like I will be hitting the trail sometime between about May 15 and Jun 15 depending on exactly when I lose my job. It's still not a sure thing yet, but everything is looking good so far. Even if something comes up between now and then and I can't go, I won't be disappointed because I know I had her support. I'll be starting in Pa NOBO where I left off in '02 so maybe I'll see some you around there.


Gray Blazer
01-04-2007, 22:18
I have a happy update to this story. About 2 months ago my wife called me in to the kitchen. Out of the blue she says "Hey, when you lose your job next summer why don't you go and finish the trail!" I couldn't believe it.

Sarge That's my dream! Not the part about losing my job, the other part. See ya at the XXX shelter (when I figure out where it is).

01-05-2007, 08:31
Congrats on getting the go ahead.

01-05-2007, 09:38

a) Let your wife know that hiking is very good for your health. In fact 3 months on the trail may well extend your life by 3 years.So she has a net gain of 33 months of life blessed by your presence.

b) Next let her do or go somewhere dear to her while you are away.Say to her, Would you rather go hiking with me or tour Slobovia with your girlfriend?She may decline the long grueling hike with you and choose to discover Hawaii with a boyfriend instead but, hey, that's way better than nothing.

c) Choose to do a month's worth of trail then come home for a week...repeat.

01-05-2007, 12:50
I read this book recently. The author had the exact same problem with his spouse you did. It might be worth the read for you. On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage
by Robert Alden Rubin

01-05-2007, 12:56
I read this book recently. The author had the exact same problem with his spouse you did. It might be worth the read for you. On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage
by Robert Alden Rubin

Excellent journal. One of the best.

Spirit Walker
01-05-2007, 14:10
I had a friend who ran into the same situation with her husband. They had talked about doing the trail together. When she retired, she decided that the time was NOW. He disagreed. Initially he was supportive, but once he realized that she actually meant to leave, he was much less so. She went anyway. When she returned, he was really angry with her and wouldn't talk to her about the trail or let her talk about her experiences on the trail. He told her afterwards, "I never expected you to last a month." She wanted to do more hiking, but decided that it wasn't worth the grief she got at home so she gave up that dream.

01-05-2007, 14:16
He told her afterwards, "I never expected you to last a month." She wanted to do more hiking, but decided that it wasn't worth the grief she got at home so she gave up that dream.

I'd be more inclined to give up my partner. A hike can be called selfish, but not to allow others, that are supposed to be supportive, to follow their dream seems to be more selfish to me.

01-05-2007, 14:29
My wife has always supported me! She's got the J-O-B!!:)

01-05-2007, 14:31
My wife has always supported me! She's got the J-O-B!!:)

You got a keeper! ;)

01-05-2007, 15:17
I had the same problem in 2004. I had always dreamed of hiking the AT aand it was all I talked about. Once our children were all on their own I thought it should be my time since I was the one who ran them to all their practices and took care of them and my husband. He was all for it and then when I was actually on the trail and I would call home he would wonder what was doing and got very jealous about being out there with all the other hikers. It was like he felt left out but had no previous desire to be outdoors. It really took a toll on us and after many troubled times of phone calls and such I just seemed to get tired of all the crap and had no motivation left in me. It is important to support your mate in whatever they want to accomplish.