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For Your Marriage

Dennis and Mary Jo Weiss have been married for more than 30 years. They write about a shared love of nature, prayer, and their children and grandchildren from their home in Hamburg, New York.

Hiking Lessons

Last weekend, Dennis and I found ourselves in a place we love – the Adirondack Mountains. We were there to attend a wedding of the son of some dear friends. Since the wedding was to occur late Saturday afternoon, Den and I decided to use the early hours of the day to take a hike.

My wonderful husband is the organizer (brains – there, I said it) of this whole Weiss Family thing we have going. He had thoroughly researched a hike that fit our timeframe and desire for some nice views of the last of the fall colors. The weather was cooperative, partly sunny with warm temperatures for early November, as we set off.

The woods always make me pensive. Reflecting as I walked, some themes emerged and I thought that the lessons from taking a hike could be helpful to remember as we continue our journey as husband and wife:

Does Everybody Have Their Buddy?

Just as important as sticking together in the woods, it is important that Den and I view ourselves as a pair in life. We have observed too many marriages where different involvements, even charitable ones, pull couples apart. While it is healthy for us to have some separate activities and even friendships, there must be a balance that never challenges the togetherness we have promised.

Try Not To Look Too Far Ahead.

I have two problems with steep climbs. One is my knees, which do not do well on hills, and the other is simply that I am out of shape, so my breathing and heart rate require frequent stops. Den on the other hand is a steady and solid hiker. As the hike got steeper, I began to focus on my footing and the next step. I knew that if I looked at how much more I needed to climb, I would be discouraged.

There are those hard times in marriage when you must simply focus on getting through the day. I recall several winters where it seemed the children rotated illness among one another for weeks on end. In those bleary-eyed days, it meant a great deal to me to rely on Den for support and relief. The challenging times are when you must take turns being the steady one.

Sometimes We Get Off Track

At one point, we lost sight of the trail we were following. Being pretty fatigued at that moment, I must admit I felt a frustration at possibly having to walk for a longer period of time than I wanted to, particularly knowing we still had a wedding to attend!

In our 35 years of marriage, there have been times when we got a little “lost.” Our communication at those times was reduced to chit-chat about our day, light joking or only talking about the kids. There was little sharing of feelings or dreams.

It is important to recognize and admit when you are a little “off-track” and begin to make the corrections that are needed. Our Catholic faith provides us with some good “trail markers” that we can use to get moving in the right direction again. A visit to the Blessed Sacrament, a trip for family Reconciliation, an honest discussion, a night out–these are all touchstones for finding our way again.

Pause and Enjoy the View


Not too long after I focused on simply putting one foot in front of the other, I looked up and we were at the top of the hill. There was a beautiful gazebo overlooking scenic Lake George, and the view was spectacular!

We tend to be a people that are constantly thinking of where we would like to be, often missing out on the beauty that is in the here and now. As Den and I took in the glory of God’s handiwork, I was reminded that a young couple would pledge their love for one another later that day. I hope that their journey includes many hikes!