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Climbing/Life Balance (Married, Kids, Life...) WHATS THE SECRET!?


Original Post
lewchoo · · Bergen County, NJ · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 5

OK, I know this has been covered to a certain degree in past forum posts, but SO much time has passed since 2008 that I thought maybe someone out there has cracked the code, and i am in desperate need of the key.  I can't be alone in this.  

Here's the deal.  I (re) started climbing a few years into our marriage.  We still didn't have kids and it was all good.  I felt like i was making up for lost time and did as many cragging days as I could and a few short trips. That said, I was (and am) a junkie and need my fix...some of which i can get at the local gym, some at the crag, some on day-long ice routes, and some in bed reading about climbing next to my awesome wife.  Issue is, while she will climb with me at the gym, she is NOT ok with me doing trips like I used to, and even going out for a day is an exercise on eggshells because it easily turns into leverage against me.  I get it.  I run a small business that sucks time, I commute, we have two awesome kids (5&10).  Time is limited.  

Curious to hear what tricks are out there for husbands, wives, partners, etc who's love of their life may not be supportive of their ridiculously stupid passion upward movement.  How do you balance it all and keep everyone happy?  Is it even possible?

Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

"even going out for a day is an exercise on eggshells because it easily turns into leverage against me."

Sounds like a bad deal to me.  You got married to make your life better, not to crush your soul.   Time to stand up for yourself.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Anthony L · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 25

I'd probably get your kids into climbing.  That way it becomes a family activity.  And at 5 and 10, your kids could become major crushers.


But, if I'm honest, this is precisely why I wouldn't ever want kids.

Eric L · · Roseville, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 115
Anthony Lubetski wrote:

I'd probably get your kids into climbing.  That way it becomes a family activity.  And at 5 and 10, your kids could become major crushers.


But, if I'm honest, this is precisely why I wouldn't ever want kids.

^^ This - except I personally wouldn't trade my kids for anything, including climbing.   Also, I found my time freed up when the kiddos got into middle school / high school.  Then again, my wife has been supportive of me using climbing as a stress reliever (checking into the ER once for work induced stress helped my cause).  I don't know your relationship, but I've found the more I help her get away from the kids (together or with just her friends) the more willing she is to give me my time away.

Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50

Here - do yourself a favor and go talk to an actual marriage counselor, (PhD in psychology with 10+ years in marriage counseling, well reviewed, respected etc) 

You are at the perfect stage. Most people wait till they have problems and the D word is talked about before they go find someone. By then you are in a pit. Go now and get to the root of the problem - you sound hella busy, and likely the issue is not the climbing, but the lack of time at home leaving your wife feeling like she has to do it all at home. 

I spent almost 18 months in therapy (1x a week individual, 1x a week in group) working on myself and learning how to be a good partner. If you are like me you likely have no idea how to be in a relationship (even if you are married) and probably suck at being a good partner. I know I did. 

Another thing - read 7 principals for making marriage work - real eye opener. A mans guide to women is also great by the same author. 

To answer your final question "How do you balance it all and keep everyone happy?  Is it even possible?" The answer is yes - it requires compromise, work, and probably a set strategy from the counselor going forward. 

Good luck. Counselors are always cheaper than divorce attorneys. 

Brian Malone · · Olney, MD · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 3,620

I had the same problem before my kids started climbing, I got them involved at the local climbing gym in a climbing club for kids. They loved it so much that when they aged out of the club, they made arrangements with others aging out and now meet them every weekend (usually the gym but 5-6 outdoor trips each year too).

Now they plan the weekend climbing trips and I just go along for the ride (and climb)..

Oh, and I now have several additional climbing partners (ie. parents of the other kids)

It actually works out great for everyone.  Going on five years now, with very few missed weekends..

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195
Russ Keane wrote:

"even going out for a day is an exercise on eggshells because it easily turns into leverage against me."

Sounds like a bad deal to me.  You got married to make your life better, not to crush your soul.   Time to stand up for yourself.

Yeah...that doesn’t sound healthy, although I know where you’re coming from, as taking care of kids is never easy, especially alone.  Still, you have to take care of yourself, and she needs to understand that making time for climbing is important to you.  Maybe you need to have a serious conversation and come to an agreement about a reasonable schedule of trips.  I’m sure she has things she would like to do, and working it out so that both of you are able to pursue your passions will make it feel less like leverage and more like cooperation.

Tony A. Davis · · Golden, Colorado · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 155

Yeah I would get your kids and wife more involved. I introduced my wife into climbing about 18 years ago so when we have my now 5.5 year old daughter it was already our life. My daughter learned to walk at the rock gym in Estes Park while we climbed. Guess it depends on the wife's views. I now travel most everywhere with the family for climbing, sometimes they are cool enough to let me go out for a day but I prefer to have them along. Took the family to Iceland and we each had our list of things to do and we accommodated each persons desires. My daughter already has crampons and a ice axe so I showed her first glacier, horse riding was also on her list, then ice climbing for me. Maybe try to set a "wish list" for the family and try a scheduled approach.

Kate Blume · · Denver, CO · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 0

I don’t have kids, but I am married to someone who has no interest in climbing, and trust me I tried and tried and tried (we were married for 5 years before I got into it). He loves the outdoors - hiking, backpacking, etc so I try to balance it that way, by compromising and doing what he wants to do some weekends, but it has definitely put a huge strain on us. I am a teacher so during the school year, I live at work and do work at home and every second I’m not working, I tend to be climbing. I feel like climbing is a rare sport - if you tell a fellow runner that your husband doesn’t run, you don’t get the same look of pity/horror that you do if you’re a climber telling someone you’re married to a nonclimber. Anyway, I wish I had more words of advice but I’m mainly just here to say you’re definitely not alone. Climbing is addictive. Balance is hard. 

ubu · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 0

I feel your pain, and have to start by saying there is no good answer.  It's great that some folks find that their partner and kids decide to take up climbing and make it a family activity, but that's not the way things work out for most of us.  Time is precious, and family time is the most precious of all, so figuring out how to balance work, home duties, family, and personal activities is essentially impossible.  There is no balance, just a dynamic back and forth between competing needs that shift with time.  Since you're looking for advice / tricks to make it possible to get out on the rock more, the only thing I can offer from my own experience is that when I put extra effort into letting my wife know she is a priority in my life, it becomes easier to set aside time for my personal fun.  The most precious thing you can give someone is your time, so when I'm not giving that time to the family I try to go out of my way to make sure they know how much I value them.  This greatly lowers the stress level for everyone when taking off on a climbing trip.

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 30

Be unhappy and angry when you don’t get to climb. Worked for me; my wife started sending me out. Took her a while to realize I needed some time away. Of course she tried to use that whole “I have to stay here and take care of four kids” guilt thing against me for a while. I did have to persevere to win my freedom. I offered her time away but it turned out she didn’t really want it.

Anthony L · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 25
Bill Czajkowski wrote:

Be unhappy and angry when you don’t get to climb. Worked for me; my wife started sending me out. Took her a while to realize I needed some time away. Of course she tried to use that whole “I have to stay here and take care of four kids” guilt thing against me for a while. I did have to persevere to win my freedom. I offered her time away but it turned out she didn’t really want it.

Are you trolling? Because if so, well done. 

Jim Turner · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 295

Climbing is any extremely time consuming hobby.  You can easily be gone for 8-10 hours on a basic trip to the crag.  If your wife has a less time demanding hobby then she’s getting the short end of stick in terms of who’s staffing the homestead.

You need to find a way to balance that, maybe by doing 3/4 of all the housework on a long term basis, or something like that.

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

the marriage and the children! oh my!

no, you cannot flash, no, unless she is supportive your hobby.

the peoplez they are a changing. you start the climbing after vows for marriage and exchanging of goods and livestock between your families. this change may be perceived as threat to the marriage and status quo that must be terminated, "hasta la vista." Hopefully your wife she would not be "the terminator" and she would be quite good and supports you having some time for the playings and the climbings, and you would help her also with some things, yes? 

all your flash are belong to her?

Drederek · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2004 · Points: 315

Get a pool.  Once Raoul the pool boy starts coming by to take care of it she will be sending you out to climb on a regular basis!  But seriously what worked for us was having our kids at a young age, we had plenty of energy to keep up with the kids, the yard, work, the house and most importantly each other. And I climbed at least one day every weekend.  A day with the GK's at our age now and thats it, we got nuthin left!

Ira O · · Hardwick, VT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 61

I definitely don't know the secret, but maybe I could add some insight. 

First, is there any other part of your life beside family/wife time that you could re-arrange? Working 32 hrs instead of 40, maybe, or 4 ten hr days then 3 off? Also, daycare and after school programs have been a lifesaver for me. 

Secondly, maybe less constructive... the person who loves you most should also support you and your raison d'etre. No matter what your passion may be. If you can climb and still be supportive to her, she should recognize that and even encourage you to chase that passion. If that's not the case, it could mean you two are growing apart. Life partners should encourage and stimulate each other, and hopefully share passions and goals. People grow and change... it just happens. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,455
lewchoo wrote:

OK, I know this has been covered to a certain degree in past forum posts, but SO much time has passed since 2008 that I thought maybe someone out there has cracked the code, and i am in desperate need of the key.  I can't be alone in this.  

Here's the deal.  I (re) started climbing a few years into our marriage.  We still didn't have kids and it was all good.  I felt like i was making up for lost time and did as many cragging days as I could and a few short trips. That said, I was (and am) a junkie and need my fix...some of which i can get at the local gym, some at the crag, some on day-long ice routes, and some in bed reading about climbing next to my awesome wife.  Issue is, while she will climb with me at the gym, she is NOT ok with me doing trips like I used to, and even going out for a day is an exercise on eggshells because it easily turns into leverage against me.  I get it.  I run a small business that sucks time, I commute, we have two awesome kids (5&10).  Time is limited.  

Curious to hear what tricks are out there for husbands, wives, partners, etc who's love of their life may not be supportive of their ridiculously stupid passion upward movement.  How do you balance it all and keep everyone happy?  Is it even possible?

You need to sit down with the wife and make a deal, negotiate. I would think that one 2hr session in the gym a week plus one weekend day outside a month would be a reasonable schedule? Tell her you need this to stay sane and ask her what she needs to stay sane and then work out how both of your sanities can be preserved. I guarantee during this process there will be butthurt because your priorities are not the exact same but not taking shit personally is the essence of a solid marriage.

What you can't do is be greedy and selfish, people, especially wives with children hate that. Children and their activities and events come first, period. But with a little forethought you can squeeze in some climbing too.

Good luck fellow swinging dick!


Andrew Southworth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 55

I have four kids under the age of ten so for me there are a few key things.

1. Planning/communication, every month my wife and look at the calendar and place  all of the times that I'm climbing and she's doing her things on it so we both know what's happening each week. The drawback to this can be if I'm scheduled to go outside and the weather doesn't cooperate I'm out of luck. Any trips hers or mine are scheduled months in advance.

2. Efficiency is key to maximizing time. I don't hang out and waste time when I'm climbing, at work or doing other activities. I know what I want to get accomplished, I do it and then I'm home, 100% home.

3. I have a small home wall with a hangboard at my house and sometimes a good workout on that is all there is time for, but it is nice to have it on weeks we are very busy or my wife is out of town.

Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

"raising kids continues the species."

The species is just fine.  Having kids is a selfish act, probably more so than climbing.   

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,631
Anthony Lubetski wrote:

Are you trolling? Because if so, well done. 

Bill C doesn't troll - never experienced that with him.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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