“Watch the side!”
“I’m not too close.”
“You are almost hitting the wall!”
“Look out for the tour bus!”
“I see it, but I can’t move over any farther.”
“Slow down for the curve. I can’t see around it. There could be a bicycle rider or a walker!”
“There are no bikers here!” (There were bikers there!)
“I think you better pull over or back up. There is only room for one on this road.”
“He’ll pull over.”
“Be sure to yield….it’s another roundabout.”
“Remember to drive left.”
“I don’t think you’re in the right gear.”
This was what our daughters heard as they sat in the back seat of our rental car (stick shift!) as we drove through the Irish countryside this past week over mountains, around hairpin turns, along cliffs, and down one lane roads (that were meant for two cars). At least this is what they heard when my husband was in the driver’s seat (which, of course, is on the right side of the car) and I was navigating. What you don’t experience in the dialogue above is the way I was leaning in around every curve, pushing my foot down on the imaginary brake, the sounds of me sucking in my breath quickly, and the freaked out tone of my voice.
So what happened when we switched drivers?
Suddenly I’m calm and focused (You have to be or you will either go off a cliff, have a head on collision, or run off the road into a wall.) and we are moving our way though the curves and across the one lane mountain roads will less drama, albeit a bit more slowly than the Irish drivers behind me might have enjoyed. (My husband still did a few, “Watch the side! Pull over now! That bus is coming right at us!”) Both girls, at some point in the trip, said, “Maybe we should let mom drive.” Not because I’m a better driver, but because it creates a much calmer ride.
So what does this say about me and about my relationanship with my husband?
Yes. I’m a control freak. I’m working on that.
No. I don’t think my husband is a bad driver. In fact, he is a very good driver. It’s just that I don’t seem to be able to stop myself from “helping” him drive. Does this send a message of distrust? Is this kind of “help” really helpful? Do I do this with other people in other areas? My kids? My friends? My colleageus? I need to take a look at this. Helping is not always helpful!
Yes. I can be fearful about some things. How can I manage these fears?
Yes. We are still married. I think that says something.
Note: At the end of the week (no accidents, no dents, no major scratches on the car), our daughter said, “Aside from all of the squabbling, you guys did a really good job with the driving this week!” We all had a good laugh and decided that any couple that is getting serious about their relationship should try to drive around Ireland together. If they can make it through that, they will have a long, happy marriage! Maybe a new reality show?