Are you ready for a long hike?

Imagine one day, some friends ask you to go on a long hike to a place that you have always wanted to go to but felt like was beyond your reach.

I would immediately think of the Half Dome Trail in Yosemite National Park. It is a strenuous hike of about 16 miles in total distance and with a lot of elevation gain. To get all the way to the top, you have to climb stairs that are almost perpendicular and the only thing separating you and a deep deep cliff is a rope. One time, my husband Dan (name of the character has been changed), who is an avid hiker, and a few of his friends were lucky enough in the lottery to get the permit to hike all the way up to the top of Half Dome. I was physically not fit enough so they sadly left me behind to do a more “reasonable” 8-mile hike to the Nevada Fall.

Is there a mountain peak that you would love to conquer? Or maybe you have a crazy road trip across some rough terrain in a foreign country in mind. Whatever it is, imagine you have the chance to finally do it. But would you be able to hop on the road tomorrow? Do you have the right equipment and clothing? Do you have detailed plans of how to get there and where to stay? Do you have friends that have embarked on the journey before and can make sure you will not get lost or be unprepared?

Some time ago, I read about the sad death of a lady who hiked the Appalachian Trails on her own. The lady had a poor sense of direction to start out with and then got off the trail and could not find her way back. She died of starvation and exposure a month later and was found only two years after that, but just less than two miles away from the original trail!

I used to think that if we are going on a short hike, well, I would just need a bit of food, some water and of course my phone and purse. I would be fine, nothing could ever happen to me! But after starting to date Dan and now over a year into our marriage, I learned from him that I need to be prepared – even for a short hike. He would remind me, for example, to download an offline map of the area onto my phone and print out several copies of the same map and put them in different corners of my backpack. You can’t rely on 4G signal and your phone battery when you are lost in the wilderness. For more challenging hikes on snow- and glacier-covered mountain tops, you even need a detailed training plan and several lessons from experts.

He would remind me, for example, to download an offline map of the area onto my phone and print out several copies of the same map and put them in different corners of my backpack. You can’t rely on 4G signal and your phone battery when you are lost in the wilderness. For more challenging hikes on snow- and glacier-covered mountain tops, you even need a detailed training plan and several lessons from experts. For more challenging hikes on glacier-covered mountain tops, Dan even needed a detailed training plan for the six months before the trip and several lessons from experts. In dangerous moments, prior training makes the difference between life and death.

Marriage is like a hike into the unknown. It can be extremely fun and rewarding to conquer challenges and enjoy life’s pleasures with one’s partner, but it can also be exhausting and leave you with permanent emotional scars if you are not careful. Nobody knows what the future brings but equipping oneself with advice and tips on how to navigate marriage life can make the journey a lot more pleasant. Just as hikers know how to make a fire under the rain or what to do when you run into a bear, we all would benefit from learning about communication, dispute resolution, and setting realistic expectations.

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