How do I help my partner not terrify me in the car?
November 28, 2010 8:23 AM Subscribe
My partner is a goddamn basket case when he drives. It makes me really upset. How do we figure out a way to get from point A to point B without anyone freaking out?
posted by anonymous to human relations (31 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My partner, who is a kind and thoughtful person in every other respect, is a very stressed-out driver. It's not aggressive or rage-ful driving per se - rather, he's constantly monitoring and commenting on the actions of those driving around him, getting upset, yelling a little, generally being a tight little ball of stressy anger the whole time he's behind the wheel. He thinks every action of cars around him are related to him in some way - that clueless drivers in the left lane are slowing down on purpose to mess with him, that the white van up there has been slowing down and speeding up every time they see him, on and on. Occasionally he will tap (hard) on his brakes or perform some other dramatic action that skates on the edge of aggressive/unsafe.
This drives me nuts. I tend to absorb the emotions of those around me, and to me the car becomes a hostile, angry place to be. I don't want to talk, I want to shut my eyes and crawl inside myself until we get wherever we're going. This annoys him - he feels like I'm being dramatic.
How do we figure out how to make car trips work? Things that *haven't* worked -
- me driving instead. He thinks I'm a bad driver, and his constant instructions stress me out, too.
- me ignoring his outbursts, stopping whatever I'm saying, and waiting until he's calmer before continuing. He feels like it's overreacting and making the situation worse.
- me telling him that he can't change the actions of others on the road, he can only accept it and modulate his response to it. It's a given, so why stress about it? Or otherwise laughing off his crazy theories about what's going on the road. This works better than anything else, but it still irritates him that I'm lecturing him while he's performing the Important Act of Driving.
So, hive mind, I guess my question is twofold - 1) *am* I overreacting? Is this normal driving behavior and I should just ignore/otherwise be okay with it? and 2) if not, how do we come to a peaceful resolution on this stuff so we can be in a car together without anger or stress?