The trouble with cars

Here’s this month’s PAIRS Quick Tips –
Just a minute to invest in your relationship skills! 

The Question:

Why is it we always seem to argue in the car! 

We are driving along and everything seems fine, and then suddenly there’s a bunch of tension and angry comments going back and forth – what’s going on?

The Answer:

This problem usually (thought not always) falls along gender lines.  Typically, the husband or boyfriend who is driving does something on the road that startles or worries the female passenger, who flinches or makes a comment.  He sees her fear as an assault on his driving expertise, and often starts driving even faster and less carefully.  Research shows that women tend to be more sensitive to noticing subtle dangers in the environment, while men are often on guard against what’s called “provider anxiety” – meaning that a man usually experiences a woman’s fear as a statement of failure that he is able to protect her.  To get past this, when a couple is in a good mood (and not driving), talk through how to handle each person’s fears when in the car together so they both feel OK.  This means really listening to the other person’s feelings, and not jumping in to defend or criticize a different perspective.  Explore how to nurture and cherish each other’s feelings, even in this stress-inducing environment.

I have experienced a major shift in my intimate relationship – we are no longer against each other – we are working together against the problems.”  –  David J., F

PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.