This is can be one of the toughest balancing acts in this tricky game of life. On one hand being single provides freedom. Being able to do and go where you want, when you want. You can spend money on irresponsible things like a new mountain bike or that fancy new GoPro. You can spend months, even years away on an adventure without so much as a second thought for anybody else.
But for me, being in a meaningful, loving relationship offers much more.
A partner provides support when times are tough. A mate to adventure with and share new experiences. Somebody that will listen to your endless hopes and dreams and make you believe that it is all possible.
My wife puts up with more than most. It is quite common for me to spend months away with work. I then return and usually have plans to set off on an adventure alone. Our friends question why she puts up with it. To them, this isn’t normal behaviour. Generally, couples stay together in the same place, all the time. For some people, spending a week apart can be tough. Through years of being with me, my wife has a different perspective to the normal people that we are friends with.
She understands me. She knows that adventures and expeditions are important to my soul. Climbing legend Mo Anthoine describes it as “Feeding the Rat”. I have an urge, a desire so strong that I become obsessed with my expedition plans. Once a plan has started to develop, the “rat” will need feeding.
This is something that doesn’t come instinctively to me. I’m still very much working on it but I have come a long way since our early days when I would head off on an adventure with little notice or warning.
Only a few months after getting married, I flew to Istanbul alone. The flight from the North of Cyprus only cost £30 so I didn’t see it as a big deal. My wife was working and I had time off so I thought it was completely reasonable to visit Turkey without her. Looking back, the unreasonable part was then getting a connecting flight to Dubai to visit an old friend. The added cost and time away was not a fair way to spend our money and my time.
Now I aim to be much more considerate.
I still have aspirations to go on epic adventures. My mind often wanders and I start dreaming about spending months, even years on a human-powered journey. Testing my will, fitness and motivation. Facing the challenges head on alone.
But is this what I actually want?
Do I aspire to spend months away on a challenge for the experience or is my motivation bragging rights?
I know I have the will and motivation. I’ve proved this to myself countless times. I have no time for setting off on an adventure, simply to portray an image. This will ultimately lead to a hollow and resentful experience.
Involve your partner
My wife is not the type of person that would choose to go on a wild camp of her own back. She enjoys her home comforts. Still, for our honeymoon, rather than jetting off to the beach, we interrailed through Eastern Europe. Now we spend our weekends on day hikes in the mountains and on long walks along the coast with our dog Cleo. Rarely do we spend our free time in the house.
A few months ago we were considering selling all our possessions, quitting our jobs and cycling East for 18 months. Then after spending a month in Nepal, it dawned on me that she didn’t really want to do it. It was me projecting my aims and aspirations on her and this wasn’t fair.
Rather than quitting the jobs we both enjoy, our plan now is to fit adventures in around them. Over the next year, we will be living in Cyprus again. We will be making the most of our weekends and time off. My wife plans to get her sub aqua diving qualifications. We will spend time visiting surrounding countries in the Middle East. To be back on the Mediterranean Island is an opportunity that we will not waste.
Spending time with those that matter
My wife is kind, caring, funny and beautiful. Each day is better for being with her. She has the ability to make a gloomy day full of light.
If I was to set off on a round the world cycle ride, it is likely to be the straw that would break the camels back. I would be self-sabotaging my own happiness for an achievement that would matter only to me. Nobody else cares if I cycle around the world. The only person with an opinion that matters is her.
So, for now, I have shelved any plans for the round the world cycle journey. Instead, I am going to live a life of smaller adventures. To remain balanced. Have a home, a family and work hard to fund my expeditions. To earn the time away by spending time with those that are important to me.
You can have too much of a good thing. Spending too much time on the road living a life of adventure will lead to you getting lost. Checking in with family grounds me. It keeps me motivated and enriches my life.
Finding this balance is my way of avoiding the post-adventure blues. Coming home to a warm house and my dog Cleo after pushing my body to its limits is a feeling that leaves the rat feeling full.