Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?

Welcome back to A New Map for Relationships’ blog. We’ve been quiet for a long time, but here we are … still trying to “create true love at home and peace on the planet” as the subtitle of our book* says.

Yesterday, we were talking with some friends who are applying its lessons to their marriage when the issue of driving together came up. They really liked what they heard and said that we should add it to our book, so here it is in a blog post instead:

MARTY: Early in our marriage, when Dorothie would ask me to slow down on a curvy road, I would take it personally. Didn’t she trust my driving? 

But, as we tore up the old maps we had brought to our relationship and worked on piecing together a new and better one, I realized that my job as driver was to make my passengers as comfortable as possible. After all, they were putting their lives in my hands. 

Instead of waiting for Dorothie or other passengers to say something, I would tell them what I had realized and ask them to tell me if they would like me to change anything about my driving.

DOROTHIE: It was a huge relief when Marty made that shift. Before, I wouldn’t say anything, both out of fear of aggravating him and fear of being seen as a backseat driver or a nagging wife. But it felt awful. Silently, I would clutch the door of the car as we went around corners, getting stiffer and more frozen with each new curve in the road. 

At a deeper level, our inability to talk maturely about this issue added poison to our relationship. Marty’s driving however he wanted to, without any concern for how it impacted me, added to my feeling that he didn’t want to hear me and didn’t care about me.

MARTY: Maybe because I didn’t want to hear you and didn’t care about how my driving affected you! I am so sorry I let pride get in the way of my taking care of you, the woman I love and cherish.

DOROTHIE: Apology accepted. Actually, apology not needed. We both made mistakes like that. Remember the time I slaved for hours making a new chicken dish? I asked you what you thought of it and you said it was OK, but a bit dry and needed a sauce. You were right, but that’s not how I reacted back then. Our old maps put pride ahead of taking care of one another. Thank God we tore them up.

MARTY: I’m sure there are international analogies, but the only one I can come up with seems weak: how the US threatening North Korea with our much larger military force, rather than making us more secure, instead has motivated them to develop a nuclear deterrent capable of striking our homeland.

DOROTHIE: Actually, you have a good starting point. We think that our unmatched military and economic power puts us in the driver’s seat, not only in our relationship with North Korea, but also with Canada, Mexico, China, Russia, and every other nation. 

MARTY: I see where you’re going. And, just as I added poison to our relationship by not caring about how my passengers felt, our nation not caring about how the rest of the world feels about its “driving” is having the same effect on its international relations. Thanks! 

Dorothie and Marty Hellman

* A PDF download of our book is available for free, and Amazon sells printed copies.

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