When I was a teenager I learned how to drive, and before I turned 30, a medical condition caused me to relinquish my license and put on the brakes. That was circa 1990.
As much as I wish I could be credited for the many years of driving experience I have, too much time has passed, and I am considered a brand new driver. It’s frustrating, but just. I require a co-driver for eight months, need to take certified driver training, and won’t be able to drive solo until 2017 starts. Oh well. Last year at this time, it wasn’t even something I considered possible so there are no complaints here.
My husband, brave soul that he is, has taken on the role of co-driver. There are a few things to know about him:
- He’s amazing, kind and generous.
- He has been known to suffer from motion sickness, so he prefers to be the one in charge.
- His relationship with vehicles is such that he never (as in never-ever) gets in without first doing a walk-around to ensure no new scratches, dents, or dust mites have appeared.
Nothing in our marriage, therefore, has provided a better opportunity to evaluate communication skills than this new adventure.
For example: I respect his time at work so unless the matter is urgent, I send him a text asking him to call me when he’s free. One week after I got my license, I needed him and he didn’t answer the phone. He did, however, send back a text saying he’d call in five minutes. “Okay,” I replied, “But I have to move your (1993 prize) mustang off the driveway.” My phone rang in twelve seconds.
See how quickly I was able to convey the message that talking later was less desirable in that circumstance? Our communication had already improved.
The garage is a precise fit for our everyday car. He coached me through parking it the first time, and I’m glad he did because it’s impossible to sneeze without pushing the boundaries.
I didn’t, however, ask for his guidance the second time. I didn’t even tell him what I intended to do. Instead I pulled into the driveway, reached for the remote control and calmly proceeded.
Somehow my husband missed my confidence, my calm demeanour, my “I’ve got this” determination.
“Stop. Stop before you hit something!” he said.
He will not accept that he shouted, but we have agreed his tone was emphatic. I can understand that, because I wasn’t looking frontwards once I got the car halfway in the available space. I was looking out the driver’s side window. Furthermore, he is aware of the fact that when I was a teenager, one of my first solo accomplishments was to ram my father’s pickup truck directly into his immoveable beast of a hunting wagon in spectacular fashion. Dad needed to purchase a different pickup truck, though the hunting vehicle was fine.
“Calm down,” I said. “It’s perfect.”
And it nearly was. He stepped out of the car, and though I think he is loathe to admit it, there was just enough room for each of us to get out, just enough room to walk around the car, and just enough room to close the garage door afterwards.
“I lined myself up with this paint splotch on the wall,” I said, pointing to where someone had sampled a colour once upon a time.
He chuckled and shook his head. “I never noticed that before, and I couldn’t see it from the passenger side. It’s a completely different point of view.”
Ah yes, in every relationship there is a season–a time to be the driver, and many times to look at things from the other person’s point of view. I’ve been the passenger for most of my life, yet it’s clear to me I can never be reminded of that lesson often enough.