Solve An Argument On The Trail
Backpacker|January 2018
Solve An Argument On The Trail

Can a backpacking trip help a couple work out their differences?

Jessica Heaney

FIVE MILES UP the Lake Charles Trail in the Colorado Rockies, my husband Dylan was more than a few paces ahead. It wasn’t what I’d call a comfortable silence—we both needed the space.

We were trapped in one of those arguments that feels like emotional quicksand, and the more we struggled, the deeper we sank.

We’d been married just over a year, and were working to fully combine our lives— and bank accounts. As with most happy couples, it was more complicated than either of us had anticipated. And when my family decided to offer some unsolicited (albeit good-natured) advice on a recent visit, well, that didn’t exactly help.

Dylan and I had gotten sucked into a familiar dance of attack, parry, defend. After a few days, the argument morphed from hot to cold. We started avoiding each other, retreating into work and our separate lives, letting ourselves drift farther and farther apart.

And the twist? I’m a relationship therapist— I specialize in guiding couples through these conflicts. Yet, here I was, stuck.

I didn’t need my training to tell me that our evasive maneuvers weren’t getting us anywhere. I knew the solution was to do the opposite. We’d been hiking buddies since day one, so the next step was almost too obvious.

“I think we need to hike this out,” I suggested. To my relief, Dylan agreed.


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January 2018