“The Roads of Life and Marriage,” Feb. 12, 2019

It’s a strange thing, an act of foolishness or faith, to put your life in someone else’s hands. We were heading south on a freeway in heavy traffic in a downpour that made the three-hour drive feel like three days.

We had driven north the day before to visit my husband’s son and his family in Sonoma. But the roads then were dry. What a difference a day can make.

My husband was driving. His hands gripped the wheel, his eyes were glued to the road. I sat beside him, reclining in the passenger seat, pretending I was not the least concerned that at any moment, I might die.

My husband is an excellent driver. I trust him completely. His driving never scares me. Well, hardly ever. If it does, it’s rarely his fault. Often it’s because another driver cut in front of us without warning, forcing my husband to stomp on the brakes and dousing me with a cup of coffee I’d dared to sip.

Usually, if I’m bothered by his driving, it’s simply because of my own lack of control. He’s making life-or-death decisions, setting the speed, taking curves, judging distance, hitting the brakes for both of us. And me? I’m just along for the ride.

For the record, let me assure you that I, too, am an excellent driver. You can ask anyone who has never seen me do it.

I learned to drive when I was 8 years old, sitting in my dad’s lap, with his right hand hovering over mine and his left hand dangling a cigarette out the window. I got my license at 14 (yes, it was legal back then) and I’ve been driving ever since.

Never mind how long. Long enough. I like to drive. I don’t smoke, but sometimes I hang my hand out the window and sing off-key like my dad.

I will gladly drive any place, any time. But when we travel together, I make my husband take the wheel. Why? Because if I drive, he can’t resist telling me how to do it. And then I can’t resist getting hopping mad and driving like my hair is on fire.

Sitting in the driver’s seat gives the driver the illusion of being in control of the vehicle, the highway, all other drivers and even life itself.

Sitting in the passenger’s seat gives the passenger a chance to sit back and pray like there’s no tomorrow. That’s what I do. We all have our gifts. That’s mine.

Also, I play FreeCell on my laptop. It’s a good distraction. But if the glare from the screen is blinding my husband, I’ll shut it off and go back to praying.

Fifty miles from home, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun beamed down on hills that, barely a month ago, were brown. Now, thanks to a few blessed weeks of rain, they were emerald green.

I wish you could see them.

Just when we think winter will never end, life comes back.

An hour later, we rounded a bend and saw Monterey Bay, blue as the sky and rimmed with foam, welcoming us home.

Marriage is a lot like a road trip. Somedays it’s smooth sailing. But at times, it can get white-knuckled, hopping-mad, hair-on-fire bumpy. And yet, no matter who’s driving, you’re on the same road together. So you might as well take it as it comes and try to make the best of it.

Snacks help. Music, too, especially songs you both like and can sing off-key together.

But the best thing about road trips and marriage is this: You have someone to share the journey, to trust with your life, a traveling companion to tap on the arm and say, “Look at that!”

Here, free of charge, are a few tips from someone who’s been married almost as long as she’s been driving: Keep moving in the right direction. Know when to talk and when to shut up. Never argue over needing a pit stop. Pray like there’s no tomorrow. And try your best, come what may, to enjoy the ride. At the end of the road, you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s to happy trails.

Comments

  1. Sheri says:

    This is so my life. We’ve had many bumps in the road. With understanding and hand in hand we will drive our car through the roads non stop

  2. Jeff Van Hoosier says:

    Tell Joe congratulations on Clemsons National Championship !

  3. Geo says:

    Glad you were born, too!!

  4. Kate Sciacca says:

    OH MY GOSH!!!! I took that drive down 680 to the 101 several weeks ago… I’d forgotten what it’s like. Yes!!!! I prayed my heart out and tried to distract myself with the iPad. It worked… sort of. And it wasn’t the better half who scared me half to death – it was all the crazy people weaving in and out and staying six inches or so behind us. By the time we checked in at the hotel I was done… hardly had the energy to wander down to Rosines – ended up at the hotel bar that night.

    Happy to be back home shoveling snow – and complaining about the “traffic” because there’s three cars backed up at the corner stop sign 😀.

    Hope things have settled down in your neighborhood- I imagine the last week was crazy with duffers and fans – Bless their hearts 😉

  5. Sheila says:

    Thank you for sharing. Love your articles and can’t wait to read your posts weekly.

  6. Sally Merrill says:

    As always, thank you for your wonderful words! We’re getting ready to celebrate 43 years together so we’ve traveled a lot of roads over the years! I used to do most of the driving, especially on trips, but I’ve gotten to spend more time in the passenger seat for the last year or so since we got rid of my minivan! My husband hated driving it, but loves the car we have now and always wants to drive! Happy travels!

  7. Patsy Styers says:

    You sound just like me in that I refuse to drive with my husband in the car for the same reason. You’re column is so correct all the way down. Thanks for another great look at life.

  8. Barb Fisher says:

    This brought back so many wonderful memories to me. My husband and I resigned our federal jobs in 1986, sold our home, bought an RV and put ourselves on a five-year plan to see the country. 10 years later we came back, only because we were starting to have grandbabies and I needed to be close to them. My traveling buddy has gone to heaven, but I have wonderful and beautiful memories to keep me going. Miss you, baby…

  9. Patsy Mccroskey says:

    Like you,I’ve been driving all my life and it’s hard to be in the passenger seat.
    Now that my husband is disabled I do all the driving (he still tells me how tho,)

    Yes driving and marriage have a lot in common
    They’re both scary with lots of steep curves and mountains to cross but I’m glad to be along for the ride

  10. Janice Kline says:

    Oh Sharon…did I ever need to read this column!

    Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  11. Patti Peters says:

    Thank you again for your words…and putting the memories of Monterey Bay back in my mind, lived there at Ft. Ord for 2 1/2 years in 1978-1980. Such a beautiful place!

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