My gracious wife has thanked me twice for driving very slowly last night when we were on an icy, twisting, and hilly primitive road (no makers or guardrails). She knows I went slowly for her sanity. Amazingly, I did not feel frustrated doing this. In the past, I would have slowed down, but not as much, and I would have been frustrated with her. Why the change?
I have figured out her being scared by my driving is not about me.
While many men complain about the driving of women, I rarely hear men say their wife’s driving scares them. I have however heard plenty of women indicate such fear.
Yes, men are generally more reckless than women (it’s a testosterone thing), and teenage boys are auto accidents looking for a place to happen. However, studies find that after age 24 men have slightly fewer accidents per mile driven than women do – although men are more likely to be involved in an accident with a fatality. I am not saying men are better drivers, but the statistics suggest they are not really reckless and scary.
All of which means nothing if his driving scares you.
The problem is most men get their pride involved in this. What they hear is “you are not a safe driver.” They think they are, and so they just get upset. They may even decide (consciously or subconsciously) to prove they are great drivers, which could result in them being even more scary. He feels you are insulting his masculinity, and that never ends well for anyone.
I have realised my wife is uncomfortable when I do things in the car which she would not do. She believes, and experience backs it up, I can safely do those things, but they still concern her. Even when I am driving, anything beyond her comfort zone makes her feel uncomfortable. I get that, it makes sense to me. Now I choose to drive in a way that makes her feel more comfortable because I love her, not because I do not want her to complain or to be uptight when we get home. Acting out of love is a great reason to do something, and we both benefit.
How, you may wonder, do you get your husband to do the same?
Find ways to communicate that your concern is not really about him. Help him see that you are uncomfortable because you would not do what he is doing, and the fact that he has the skill to do it does not resolve your discomfort. If this has been a big deal issue for many years it will take time to change what he hears. Be sure to put it on yourself – “I know you are a safe driver, but I’m uncomfortable, would you slow down a bit for me?”
~ Paul – I’m XY, and way too proud of never being in an accident that was my fault.