Patience, Driving, and Matrimonial Bliss

On Sunday, my wife and I drove into downtown Philadelphia to meet a friend for dinner. We had a delightful evening. The traffic was negligible, the parking situation was simple, the food was delicious, and the company, wonderful. My wife was full of joy on the way home, and her being so joyful filled me with greater satisfaction as well. Despite the fun we had experienced, however, I could not help but focus on one seemingly overlooked fact: we had handled the drive and parking situation with a patience toward one another we have not always had. It’s an odd observation to raise, to be sure; but I was really basking in it.

You see, my wife and I have had our tiffs whilst driving, as all couples do. In unusual or high-stress driving situations, we tend to both operate under the assumption that the other sees little, fails to react, and misjudges the road. We have often shared these observations with one another in a way that is less than encouraging. In fact, we can exasperate and infuriate each other.

Not Sunday. Sunday we navigated the trip alongside one another in regards to the correct exits, the other drivers, the parking, and so forth. My wife voiced her observations calmly and gently, and I responded in kind and adjusted accordingly. We made the trip a success together.

Now, what does that have to do with patience? Well, two things. First, in days past, her impatience with me in those situations was part of the problem. She felt that her reaction time was always appropriate and correct, and my operating with a slower hand was not–despite the fact that had she held her tongue, most times I would have done exactly as she would have, only a moment or two later. Second, I would lose patience with her as my navigator as soon as she voiced her first concern of my failure to do as she would. This was due to my own insecurity, but I would have taken her comment as a slight and furthermore would have begun my process of frustration with her. This angst would have been compounded with each additional observation, resulting in my driving less attentively and her feeling the need to make more comments. Through the snowball effect, we would have both been very unhappy with the other by the time the drive had ended. Her impatience with my technique led to my impatience with her assistance. Bottom line: we both failed.

I am not saying we are perfect now. Like all couples we have a long way to go…but my how far we’ve come. She now watches and waits for my actions, and I often adjust accordingly when her comments come. Tis a good thing, folks. Tis a very good thing, indeed. Sunday, I feel we were rewarded for it.

Thanks for reading, be full of love (and patience) this weekend,