Unsolicited Driving Lessons
I recently completed a survey about boomer couples and driving. It was small enough to be classified as anecdotal since it was based mostly on boomer friends and relatives, but after years of listening to boomer couples' arguments about this issue, it's apparently a widespread problem. Boomer couples frequently criticize each other's driving, and they persist no matter how annoying until it all too often escalates into something bigger than warranted.
Sarah and I were recently in Florida visiting her brother and his wife. Her sister-in-law mentioned that after three decades of marriage they have very few arguments any more, but that when they do argue it's usually in the car. Their disagreements are nearly always about her husband's driving, which she considers fast and unfocused. Not surprisingly he disagrees.
We met friends of theirs for dinner and they also mentioned that after more than a decade together most of their arguments occurred in the car and were nearly always about the husband's speedy driving.
I'm directionally challenged, a euphemism for getting lost a lot. Not so fast... it's not associated with aging since I frequently got lost as a boy too. Every time I wander from the path, Sarah expresses her displeasure with an audible sigh and head shaking. And after two years, she still acts surprised when I get lost. She becomes increasingly impatient with each wrong turn. In addition she feels I drive too fast considering that I'm lost. I tell her that I'm just trying to get un-lost as quickly as possible, but she doesn't consider this a cogent solution. I'd appreciate some patience around my poor sense of direction, and as for driving fast I admit I like speed. Still, I'm confident I'm a good driver.
So what's up with all the backseat bickering anyway? Why do so many boomers, who love and adore each other, lock horns as soon as their seat belts are buckled?
Not About Love
Sarah loves me, just as all of the women I spoke with love their partners, and she treats me nearly perfectly with the exception of our time together in the car. In truth her driving frightens the dickens out of me. I fear that every turn she makes will result in a head-on collision and each time she changes lanes on the freeway feels like a death defying act.
And when I tell her that her driving scares me her response sounds oddly familiar because it's the same as mine, word for word. "I'm in control, your driving is way worse." I'm not ranting, I'm just expressing my frustration. I'd like to find a solution to the boomer driving blues that affect me, and so many other boomers.
Here are a few ideas.
- How about boomer couples pledge to zip it when their partner is driving? I know how difficult this is but nothing will change until boomer couples install lip zippers.
- Try to see each other as competent drivers. How about looking at each other's driving records? The least number of driving infractions has earned zipped lips.
- Instead of riding in the passenger seat, the passenger might sit in the back seat, where he or she can text, call friends, or listen to music. Think of it as having a chauffeur-driven limo and it might not feel so weird.
- Perhaps the partner who does the most criticizing should do most of the driving. While this may not work if both partners are critical, it could work if only one is.
I'm not positive these tips will work for every couple in every relationship, including mine, but I'm going to send a link to this article to my partner, who I hope will be open to some of the suggestions. I'd appreciate hearing boomer readers' tips for how they manage to keep their on the road relationships, on the road.
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