My husband gets a little uptight on the freeway. He tenses up, changes lanes, and then says unkind things about the other drivers. Then he’ll calm down again, only to do it all over again a few minutes later. I can’t see what’s stressing him out, but something is. The driver can usually see more than the passenger anyway.
This quirkiness of driving shouldn’t really annoy me, but it does. Sixteen years ago, I was in a car accident, and freeway driving makes me nervous in the first place. I’m glad it’s him driving, and not me—in fact, I have refused to get on the freeway since then, so if we’re on the freeway, he has to drive—but I still find myself getting a knot in my stomach when he tenses up.
He doesn’t know how I feel unless I tell him, and neither does any other husband. Or wife, for that matter. We can’t expect our loved ones to be mind readers. So I sat down with my husband and shared my feelings, how seeing him get all uptight makes me feel all uptight, and because of my car accident and the trauma associated with it, being in the car is a very stressful thing for me anyway. He honestly hadn’t realized that, but after we talked, he started making a real effort to calm his driving down a little so he wasn’t affecting me with his reactions.
Is he still a little uptight? Well, sure—some traffic situations are very stressful and you have to move quickly and react quickly. But now that he knows how I feel, he tries to be more mindful of the emotions he’s sending out.
As you think about your spouse, are there things about them that you could be more sensitive to? Have they had experiences in their past that might be hurtful, and can you think of ways to make your future more joyous without reminding them of those hurtful times? The care and support of a loving spouse can mean the world in overcoming those difficult experiences.