Most of us married folk will remember the days far gone when we were first in love with our spouses and everything in the Universe simply fell into place. You were either like each others’ twin in every way, (‘we both love chocolate ice cream! Isn’t that amazing!?) or you found that any differences you did have, only complimented each other in the most perfect of ways, (I hate scallops and he loves them so at dinner, he ate them off my plate! Isn’t that just the sweetest!?).
Love was easy. Effortless. You felt you knew this person inside and out and he, you. The beginning is by far the most fun and exhilarating part of the journey.
And then, fast-forward 15 years later, in the kitchen, when your husband sighs in exasperation over the completely asinine way you loaded the dishwasher, and you swear under your breath because, once again, the 57 jackets he owns are hanging in the wrong place and mucking up the mud room.
The shift from “They are the Yin to my Yang” to “Can this person do anything the right way” is slow. Insidious. And you wake up one day and wonder, “Do we actually have anything in common other than our children??”.
At first, couples go through the hilariously futile phase of trying desperately to show their partner the light so that they can come over to the right side of things. This is a lively time for married couples as they try to change each other. Exciting and infuriating battles over the correct way to fill the recycling bin, (you break down the boxes, don’t just shove them in there whole!!! Everyone knows that!!!) to cleaning styles (you don’t just throw things in a drawer willy nilly!! You put back everything in its proper place!!!).
My husband and I are no exception to the harsh realization that each other does everything wrong and that we are stuck with having to put up with it. And every winter, our solidarity is challenged as I effusively try to sit in the passenger seat of my husband’s truck while he drives in a snowstorm with one hand in his jacket pocket and the other loosely grasping the steering wheel with his thumb and forefinger in the most blaze of manners.
“Um, I can’t even see the middle line. Can you see it?”
“Do you think you should put your windshield wipers on a faster mode other than Intermittent because the snow really starts to pile up on it in between.”
“Ohmygod! Ohmygod! That car is like half on our side……”.
an annoyed glance in my direction.
As I lean over to his side of the truck: “What speed are you going anyway, it feels like you’re going so fast”.
“Listen, who’s driving?”
“I’m sorry. You. I know. I’ll shut up.”
I’ve always been a freak about driving. Even when I was younger, I did not like to ride with other people at the wheel. In high school, when we’d all go up to Canada to sketchy bars and speaker-dance, I was almost always the Designated Driver. Willingly. It was an extremely annoying job to drive home a car-full of inebriated 17-year-olds, but hey, I wanted to get home alive and I didn’t trust ANY of them with that endeavor.
But, then there was my husband. I trusted him implicitly. One time, about 7 years ago, he drove us to Plattsburg, N.Y to do some shopping. I hopped in the passenger seat, chatted away for a while, got sleepy, and before I knew it I woke up in the parking lot of Gander Mountain. I couldn’t believe I had fallen asleep!!! I completely flaked out on my responsibilities as the backseat driver and put us in danger of having been in an accident!!!
Unfortunately, 7 years later, I’m still a Nervous Nelly about driving. Especially in winter–the season where I White-Knuckle it all the time.
Now, when I’m driving myself or the boys in my Jeep during winter, I pretty much hunt down the nearest Snow Plow going my way and tail-gate him. I mean, 1) they go super slow, 2) you’re driving on a fresh pile of sand and salt and 3) no one can honk and flip you off because, Hey, you’re behind a snow-plow! It’s not your fault!!
Then there’s my husband. His stoic nature befuddles me. It could be raining out and 13 degrees, and he’ll say to me, “driving in bad weather is actually quite easy. You’ve just go to let the vehicle do the work for you”. Okay, whatever honey. I’m just going to go wait at the end of the driveway until a snow plow passes and hope he’s headed toward Hannaford and the Bank, M’kay? You go have fun driving in freezing rain like it’s a hot July afternoon.
I’m learning that sitting quietly in the passenger seat of the truck and trusting in his ability to drive in bad weather is not always easy for me, but I’m getting better. Because I do trust him. I trust that man more than any other person on earth, to be totally honest. So, when I find myself holding my breath in my seat and grabbing for the “oh shit” handle, I try to remind myself that he’s got it under control. I try to remember that while I cannot drive in the snow and look for deer in every goddamn field we pass without crossing the yellow line–that he can, and does, and it drives me frickin’ nuts, but what are you going to do???
When we we’re younger, we think there is no better feeling than being in love. Than discovering this other perfectly made person. But there is. I’m learning that there’s the feeling you have when you trust someone so much, that even though they go through life with an almost entirely different compass, you let them do it their way and realize that everything turns out fine. And you feel better for it to boot.
That even though he’s passing the damn snow-plow instead of riding its ass like he should be, he’ll get us all where we need to be.