My response: ”Instead of stopping me from pursuing my passion, why don’t you come along?”
My girlfriend Pam has opened my eyes to this possibility. When we share outdoor activities together, we create our own exclusive memories, which strengthen the bonds in our relationship. Think of the time we bicycle-camped the Greenbrier River Trail and saw the bear. Or when we got caught in a thunderstorm backpacking on Harper Creek, then warmed by a roaring campfire. How about marveling at the Twin Arches framed in spring greens? Or the 17-mile day over the balds of Roan Mountain? Or seeing the mountain laurel bloom near Sherando Lake?
And those trying times – the punishing hills, the frigid mornings, the rainy afternoons, the tangles, the briers and blowdowns on the trail – overcoming those challenges together are metaphoric examples upon which we can draw when non-outdoor challenges arise in our relationship. “If we successfully paddled through 25-knot winds in the Everglades, we can fight through this.”
This is what I’ve learned: You can either turn your outdoor passions into a relationship-building asset or a relationship-destroying liability. In the end, though, it’s all about relationships. As Pam puts it, “It’s who you are with, not where you are at.” So these days, I willingly temper my outdoor passions with my love for her.
After all, adventures aren’t as memorable when there’s no one there to share them with.