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When Your Partner Doesn’t Share a Love of the Outdoors

Life is full of give and take.  Sacrifice and love.  Adventures and lessons.

We talk a lot about getting outside as a family around here.  Obviously we believe in it whole-heartedly and do our very best to help inspire the same love of the outdoors in others.  

However, we also run across plenty of families that are split down the middle….by a love (or loathing) of the outdoors and anything active.  It’s certainly not an easy position to be in (on either side!)

I have asked around to people I trust in the “outdoor industry” and bring their tips along with some of our own here.  I need to make it clear that while I sincerely believe in the importance of an outdoor and active lifestyle, that really can be defined in a lot of different ways.  

Being outside and active doesn’t mean you have to be jumping off cliffs, skiing down mountains or spending a week with your 6 month old in the backcountry.  

Going on a walk, throwing a frisbee, discovering birds or trees or flowers…it all “counts.”  AND every person is blessed with their own gifts and talents.

I, in no way, want to devalue activities that are NOT outdoors or active – they all have their own place in this crazy world.

Just like everyone else, I have days when going outside (or – let’s face it – getting out of bed in general!) is really the last thing I want to do. I feel as though I have a to-do list a mile long and the effort required to get the family out these days is downright exhausting.

I’m not exaggerating when I saw the prep for adventures with 5 kids aged 10 and under takes nearly 2 hours. But, 1 kid or 10….the value in getting out there is always worth it.

So…what do you do when you’re NOT supported by your family members in your efforts to get out?


The bottom line? It comes down to love and respect within a family.  Do you want to share with someone you love what they love?  Are you willing to make sacrifices in your own comfort levels to show that love?  Do you take risks by trying something new to improve your quality of life?

It’s ok to be stepping outside your own boundaries (whatever they are) for the love of another and the enrichment of your own life.

Sit and have tea with your grandma (despite the fact that you hate tea and would rather be running around); take a 2 mile hike with your children (despite the fact that you may be covered with sweat and “challenged” at the end); ride a horse; ride a bike; take a ride to the top of a mountain (from the safety of your own car.)  

Learn, love, grow and don’t complain the whole time!

If You Are the Outdoorsy One:

Lead by example

No amount of forcing anything will bring your loved one closer to the benefits of fresh air.

Plan family trips that accommodate everyone.

  • Go glamping
  • Plan a trip that includes both some simple bike rides AND a movie (or whatever they prefer).
  • Stay at a lodge where you can both ski and watch the football game

Start Small

Encourage family outdoor time in small increments.  Increase that time as people become more comfortable with it. Again, everything “counts” – the hope is to find something that everyone loves!

Show Respect and Love

Respect your family member and their preferences.  Join in the activities THEY love too.  Any relationship is reciprocal.

Build Unity

Plan activities together.  Try something NEW together. Support each other, but also keep the door open for what life may bring you together.

Bring friends

Sometimes people just need a little positive peer pressure (or the knowledge that it isn’t JUST their crazy spouse/family member/friend loving the outdoors!)

If you could really care less about being outdoors (and are frustrated with the pressure):

Say Yes

I know this is so, so, so hard sometimes. But the benefits of choosing your spouse/partner are far more reaching than doing something you don’t love.

Dare to adventure….just a little.

Sign up for a fun run/walk; agree to go camping, but bring along your mattress; find adventure in the small things.

Be Inspired

Read a book about an extreme adventure…just for a little inspiration.

Give a little, take a little

Ask your loved one to join you in something that YOU love to do and then offer to join THEM in something they love.

Put Your Family and Relationship First

Communicate with your family about what is important to each member. Take your kids outside and just play (with no strings attached!)

More Advice/Personal Struggles You Can Relate To:  

“Tailor your trips to suit the needs or concerns of the hesitant party.”

Backcountry Parenting  

“I also have a bunch of mom friends who have a hard time getting their husbands to commit to trips and outings on weekends. The men find that they’re too tired after working all week and don’t want to leave home.

I feel for the moms because they are tired too but they are the ones more motivated to go camping, hiking, etc. Maybe they were always the more driven ones in their relationship – even before kids.”

Rockies Family Adventures  

“We have family friends here where Dad likes mountain outdoorsy stuff but mom doesn’t. And is nervous for her daughter to be outside as well.

That being said, we planned so many great family trips last summer with big groups that Dad felt like he could take his daughter solo to join in the fun, mom stayed home (and was happy there), and the kid got to play in the mud, camp, sleep in a tent…. It made my heart happy to see her camping and playing outside with other kids her age.”

Rockies Family Adventures  

“I see this a lot too and unfortunately it does keep the outdoorsy spouse from experiencing as much as they’d like to. I would say that early mornings are your friend.

While everyone is still in bed you have the chance to get up and out without them realizing you’re really dedicating that much time to your passion and you won’t be intruding on family time.”

Nature for Kids  

“I’m glad I don’t have this problem with my significant other, but I do run into this with my Mom. Ever since she had cancer she get’s anxiety in the outdoors, so it creates a bit of an issue with her more outdoorsy children.

Over Thanksgiving we were in St.George, perfect weather, lots of outdoor stuff to do and where was I on Black Friday morning? A craft show with a million other people, and my Mom (note that I don’t like crafting, shopping or crowds).

I did it for the love of my Mother. She loves to do the craft thing with her daughters. Later in the day she came climbing with us, we packed in a chair for her and she worked on some crocheting. With any loved one its all about give and take.”

I want to know:  Do you struggle with having different tastes that directly go against what someone you love prefers to do? Any tips of your own?

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When your Partner Does Love the Outdoors

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