Inside His Head: Wife who doesn’t enjoy tent camping seeks advice

insidehishead, 500

Dear Inside His Head,

The weather is getting warmer and my husband is starting to talk about camping out. He loves to camp in tents, but I’m more of a cabin camper. He feels like it’s not truly camping if we stay in a cabin or RV. I don’t want to camp in a tent.

I know this is a minor thing, but it’s something that causes us to argue every year. I’d like to skip the fight this year. I know the obvious answer is to humor him, but why can’t he humor me? Our daughters are getting older and it’s a little more complicated to tent camp now anyway. Do you have any thoughts on how we can resolve this running dilemma?


Michael, inside his headMICHAEL: I get both sides of this. I’m not big on rv’s. My wife actually used to not be an outdoors person, but now she’s the one who wants to tent camp. But even I know that it’s not nearly as comfortable as in a cabin.

I’ll tell you what we did a few years ago. We went on an extended vacation and we split the difference. We did half of the time in a hotel and half in a tent. Having said that, your husband has an interest that he wants to share with his family. At the core of that is spending time with you in a natural setting.

If you’re dead set against the tent just explain how uncomfortable it is and that you want to enjoy your outdoors experience. That means sleeping comfortably and then spending the day well rested and enjoying the outdoors.

Your side of that bargain though is to not hole up in the cabin with the girls. Get out and spend time with him. That’s what he’s looking for.

Inside His HeadMAVERICK: Well, it seems like your husband really loves to tent camp. It’s his thing. That’s why he shouldn’t have to compromise on it.

Likely you have tons of things that you love that he compromises on for your sake. Probably he does this daily or even hourly.

How about you return the favor?

He clearly wants you, and your kids, to participate in his love of the outdoors. Perhaps you can, in this one case, make your participation in something he loves, unconditional?

Here’s the crux: By requiring compromise in this situation, you are changing the entire experience for your mate.

The reason he doesn’t want to stay in a cabin or an RV is, it’s not camping. That’s just staying in a somewhat modified hotel.

Your position on this is similar to saying — “My husband loves gourmet food and we go on a food-based vacation every spring but I really can take fancy food or leave it. I suggested instead of the typical food tour we just eat at Golden Coral every night. It’s food, right? Now he’s mad. What gives?”

Perhaps you should stop looking at ways to get out of the whole experience, or change it so dramatically that it’s just not the same and instead, make the best of the situation.

If it’s getting odd that your daughters are older, get them their own tent. Tents are less expensive than renting a cabin or an RV, for even a single night. And they last for years and years.

Just because you’re tent camping doesn’t mean you can’t exert some control. There’s an entire industry out there built around the concept that folks like to camp but they don’t want to be uncomfortable doing it.

So, consider the following:

  • Get a cot or a quality air mattress, if you don’t like sleeping, or trying to sleep, on the  hard ground.
  • Get quality bug spray and sun screen. Camping is way less fun with bug bites and blistered skin.
  • Get a tent with lots of mesh and/or windows, or a battery powered fan to move the air if you’re too hot.
  • Get a quality sleeping bag and good clothing if you’re too cold.
  • Get a nice sun shade if the camp area is blazing.
  • Invest in a good camp chair for yourself so you can relax in comfort. It can make a huge difference.
  • A good cooler to keep some drinks icy, even if it’s just for you, can be a godsend.

In the end, your husband shouldn’t have to water down the camping experience if that’s something he truly loves.That doesn’t mean you have to be dragged along and forced to suffer.

Decide you’re going to go on the trip and get yourself the gear you need to make the best of the experience.

Who knows, you might just have some fun.

greg1.thumbnailGRAY: My mom used to make the best pecan pie. I have several memories of eating those pies. Even still her pies are what I measure all other pecan pies against.

And that’s what your husband is doing – not giving your kids a memory of a store-bought pecan pie that you forget about the next day, but the real deal and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

I take my daughter camping without my wife because she won’t sleep in a tent either. We don’t argue about it because we both know what the most important part is – that our daughter have fun.

And as long as she’s having fun I’m more than happy to give her the same kind of memories that I have of my dad taking me camping when I was the same age. So if I were to give advice it would be to leave it to your daughters. If they’re having fun isn’t that paramount?

And if your daughters don’t like it, then maybe the time has come to try something different. But I don’t get the impression your husband isn’t trying to get them to do anything they don’t enjoy doing already.

“Camping” in a cabin is hardly different than staying in a hotel, but being in a tent out under the stars, keeping your sleeping bag zipped up to keep the chill from the wee hours at bay is an experience you can’t capture by any other means.

It’s not a matter of not humoring you, it’s the difference between a pie anyone can grab from a store and something unique that not everyone has a chance to do. And those are the memories that will stay with your daughters their whole life.

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