My girlfriend and I are going to spend a month hiking the A.T. together. Our friends think we’re going to break up. Are we getting in over our heads?

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The trail is not really the place to see if a relationship will survive, but it’s a great place for a relationship to become stronger and deeper. Here are some thoughts that may make your hike together a memorable and enjoyable one.

1) Both of you must be totally committed to the hike. There will be days when one or the other of you may want to call it quits. With a joint commitment, one partner will be able to encourage the other to continue.

2) You both must be willing to compromise and put your partner’s feelings and well-being before your own.
The desire for personal achievement must take a back seat to your succeeding as a couple, whether it’s how fast you hike or how many miles you do in a day.

3) Be willing to accept your partner’s weaknesses and express appreciation for each other’s strengths.

4) Be transparent with how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally. Trying to be a martyr is of no benefit to either of you and often develops into disdain for the adventure.

5) Determine ahead of time who will lead and then no complaints by the faster hiker later.

6) Decide ahead of time that, even on the bad days, there will be something learned about yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

7) Be willing to laugh at the obstacles the trail throws in your path and have fun. Take time each day to reflect on the day’s events and how those events have made your relationship stronger.

—Randy “Windtalker” Motz and his wife, Georgia “Mom” Harris, are authors of Solemates – Lessons on Life, Love and Marriage from the Appalachian Trail, a book detailing the couple’s 2006 thru-hike of the A.T.

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