I didn’t realize my beloved husband looked at driving differently than me. I learned women love the trip; men love the arrival. No wonder there’s tension traveling.
It was many years ago and I was so excited. It was our first vacation since our honeymoon. I was going to be with my beloved for three days, and I was looking forward to the five-hour drive on our first day…without interruptions, We could talk and talk. But Larry seemed strangely silent or else gave me one word replies.
I guess Larry must be intent on driving, so I’ll enjoy the scenery.
Several hours later of little conversation, I said as hunger nagged at me. “Aren’t we going to stop to eat?”
Larry’s response: “I thought we’d just eat the snacks you brought. That way we can get there sooner.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Larry, vacations are times to relax and enjoy your way as you go along.”
Larry’s response: “Honey, I want to get there before dark,” I responded. “Just pull out the chips, okay?” I turned my attention back to the road and immediately got lost in thought. I just loved driving my new sports car (even if it was “new” only to me). It just didn’t get better than this.
Something inside me died as my dreams and expectations of a leisurely drive with lots of conversation evaporated. I concluded Larry didn’t like being with me and I swallowed back tears.
Why does this happen so much? I agonized. Why am I constantly being disappointed and finding my opinions ignored?
Hours later we arrived at our destination but stayed for only two hours. Then it was off to Larry’s next scheduled driving goal. When we finally did stop at midnight to sleep, he insisted we get up at 5 A.M. to continue our trek. I had no idea our vacation would be one long, very long, driving spree!
Larry’s response: I couldn’t wait to get back in the car. I’d reached the first goal; now it was time to conquer the next one, just 290 miles away. The driving and arriving was the vacation I really enjoyed.
We laugh now about that first vacation but I didn’t laugh then. We had no idea we were facing only the first of many experiences showing us the contrasts between men and women–and our personality differences.
Gary Smalley in his book The Joy of Committed Love writes, “I would venture to say that most marital difficulties center around one fact—men and women are TOTALLY different. The differences (emotional, mental, and physical) are so extreme that without a concentrated effort to understand them, it is nearly impossible to have a happy marriage.”
Later in the book, Smalley writes, “Watch what happens during many family vacations. He is challenged by the goal of driving 400 miles a day, while she wants to stop now and then to drink coffee and relax and relate. He thinks that’s a waste of time because it would interfere with his goal.”
Larry and I sure found that out on our first vacation and many since. Yet, now after more than 45 years of marriage, we’ve both learned to be more selfless and generous. Larry is much more open to hearing my preferences and honoring them. I am more open to allowing Larry to drive in peace. After all, I have my Kindle! But kidding aside, we do talk much more and to tell you the truth, sometimes Larry talks more than I do. Sometimes I’d rather read. Isn’t that a funny reversal?
These differences aren’t just for spouses. They can be for traveling companions, family member preferences, and other scenarios. Regardless of the situation, by understanding the person isn’t responding in order to show anything negative toward us, we can be more patient, kind, and selfless.