Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday (er, Tuesday) Marriage Matters: Driving

Thanksgiving went well, although, as I suspected, there is no perfect solution to splitting holidays.  So we're still working on it. 

Thanksgiving also brought up another interesting issue in our marriage - driving.  Recently, when discussing our Egyptian friends, Mark turned to me and asked if the mom in the family drove.  I looked at him as if he was insane, and said, "of course."  (Women in Egypt are allowed to drive.)  He shrugged and said he had never seen her drive.  I looked at him and said, "I don't drive when we're together."  Which is true, except for when we go to some beer related event or festival and I DD. 

This weekend, I did more driving on a car trip than I think I've done the entire time we've been together.  I don't enjoy driving, and I definitely don't enjoy driving on long car trips.  Couple this with the fact that my husband is a major backseat driver (he starts tapping me from like, two miles away to slow down when there is a car ahead with the brake lights on), and that I hate driving stick shift, and yeah, my husband does 90% of the driving when we are together.

I see this dynamic in a lot of couples, and it feels pretty gendered, other than my parents, where my mother drives and my father "navigates" or, sometimes, covers his eyes and cowers in the corner while on mountains and cliffs.  I have a number of little old lady clients who do not drive, and have never driven. The reason a lot of people give is that their spouse likes to drive, and they do not.  I believe I also used this excuse as to why I do not do the income taxes and got a dirty look from my husband, who also does not like to do the taxes. 

I always offer to drive, in the "I'm offering because I know you'll say no" kind of way, but this weekend, I wound up behind the wheel for part of the trip up to New Jersey and the entire trip home, while my husband sat next to me in the car and tried to make pleasant conversation.  That lasted for about 20 minutes and then we decided to see if we could download books on tape.  We wound up listening to 12 Angry Men for most of the ride, which was a lot of fun, and then the Indigo Girls for the rest of the night, as whoever drives gets to pick the music (I suspect this is a big part of why my husband offers to drive.) 

So weigh in - do you drive the most, or does your spouse?  Is it always the man who does more driving?  In same-sex couples, is it the same way, that one partner prefers to drive?  Do you discuss it, or is it just the way it is? 


  1. I don't know if any of this matters any more, but I ALWAYS drove on long road trips. If we were just going out to dinner or something usually he'd drive and we'd take his car, but if we were going long distance, I'd do nearly all of the driving. Hard to say why. I think it's probably because I like long road trips, but he didn't like being a passenger in my tiny stick shift car, and that's why we'd take his instead.

  2. Sadly, wife does not drive at all, so I ALWAYS drive. She is very picky about how I drive, though, so I do drive differently with her than I do when I'm alone. Even if she did drive, I suspect I would drive more often...

  3. I drive more on road trips, mostly because I can haul for a long way and if he drives we'll stop a LOT. :)
    When we're together, I drive over half the time with booze related stuff because I'm DD. Other than that, he may drive a bit more because he works almost exclusively from home, and I go in to the office a few times a week, school once a week, and internship all around. So I end up driving a bit more than he does overall.

    We fall into this naturally, but i'd probably push for it even if it wasn't natural because I've seen all of my sisters and friends stop driving as soon as they got a man, and that makes me feel icky. I also think that I'm better at driving in the snow/ice since I'm from Montana, even though he does have five years driving experience on me.

  4. It's my car, so I'm the default driver. Collin sometimes drives when I'm really stressed out, but recently I've found it more stressful to give him directions (he can't really follow the GPS because of his processing disorder), so I pretty much drive unless I'm drunk or we're on a long trip and absolutely must divide the driving.

  5. My mother always drove our family everywhere, so growing up, I thought that the woman in a relationship always drove, and I found it SO bizarre when my friends' fathers would drive us places.

    Flash forward to my relationship: I learned to drive and got my license two years before Roger, so I've been the primary driver since we started dating. He's much better at long drives than I am (and also can't read a map, so I act as navigator), so on road-trips, he takes over. But anything under an hour or two, or involving driving in traffic, and I almost always drive.

  6. 1) You forgot high bridges. I also close my eyes on bridges with is not advisable if you are driving.
    2) MOB was and is a fine driver. She taught me how to drive a stick shift after rescuing me on a car purchase where I could not drive the car home.
    3) MOB is, to put it mildly, a hopeless navigator. She has used a GPS and a map and still ended up in the wrong country. She drives and I know where we are.
    4) Recently we had to drive in South Africa in a stick shift sort of truck. We drove the car together She had the wheel but could not reach the stick since it was behind her. (MOB is short) I suggest that only those with about 36 years together can drive a car with one person on the clutch and the other on the stick. You really have to trust and pay attention when passing on a two lane road with minibuses and wild animals.

  7. Tony usually drives when we're together. He's an anxious, obnoxious passenger/back-seat-driver person, and he's also a much better driver than me. I prefer being a passenger, so it works out just fine.

  8. He usually drives (ALWAYS drove in the early days of our relationship), mostly because I know he enjoys it. And he's a better tired driver than I am, so at the end of a long day at work for both of us, I usually feel better letting him drive. Also, he can be distracted and unobservant, so I do a lot of our navigating. Despite this, I can be a terrible backseat driver - edgy and anxious - so if we're in a hurry or I know we'll be in a lot of traffic, I drive. And, he would agree, I am a better driver.

  9. He usually drives - mainly b/c he prefers his larger car over my tinier sedan. And I don't like driving boats. Also, I think I've forgotten how to drive automatic after driving stick for so long. It does feel pretty gendered - but driving makes me nervous now that I don't do it as much and walk most places. #cityliving

  10. My wife does the majority of the driving when we're together. It's her car, so that's part of it. But I don't drive much on a regular basis, and I've always been a somewhat anxiety-prone driver, so driving in heavy traffic stresses me out a lot. (And don't even get me started on driving at twilight/at night in places with a lot of deer--I'm a twitchy mess!) And I fully admit that she is a better driver than me. I'm not a bad driver, but I'm very cautious, and even I can laugh at the fact that I drive like a grandma. But so far this arrangement is working for us--she does pretty much all of the local driving, and I probably take about a third of the driving on long trips. If we eventually move to a place where two cars are needed, I'm curious to see if this will change at all. We're also fortunate in that right now we live in a place with ample public transportation, so the DD conversation is never needed!

  11. B ends up driving more often than not when we're together, though we try to split up long car trips. I don't mind driving, but I don't enjoy it (and certain conditions--heavy rain, snow, dark roads--make me downright panicky). When my (female) friend and I would drive around town when we were in our early twenties, she ALWAYS drove my car. So I'm not sure if ours is a gender thing, or just that I will opt out if the other person doesn't mind. I even waited until I was 18 to get my license, I was that NOT-eager to be the driver.