Before I got married, I drove however fast I wanted and took whatever route I wanted. Granted, on my way to wherever I was going, I also had a knack for running late because of my propensity to get lost. And although I hate to admit it, even now my inner compass doesn’t function like the other people out there who have an unexplainable good sense of direction. One of those other people is my wife, and it wasn’t long into our relationship before she figured out that when it came to finding our way around unfamiliar areas, she and her man were unequally yoked.
Unfortunately, the disparity in our sense of direction became a constant source of tension. I wanted the control I had always maintained over my vehicle; she wanted to be on time. I wanted to take the route that was familiar to me; she wanted to get there the fastest way. The negotiations that ensued were sometimes ugly, and it wasn’t just because I was stubborn and resistant to being told what to do. She was often impatient with me; she was sometimes rude; and every once in a blue moon, her directions were straight-up wrong, which gave me a nasty little thrill.
“Do you want to drive?” I would ask, perturbed at her for being frustrated and perturbed at myself for absent-mindedly missing another turn.
“No, I just want you to watch where you’re going,” she would snap back.
The conversation would eventually devolve into an embarrassing spat that ended with us saying “whatever” to the other — until one of us decided to apologize for our part in the toxicity, and we both moved on.
Of course, those kinds of spats are a thing of the past — and when I say “the past,” I’m talking about last week. Yep, six years into marriage, I’m still adjusting to the loss of control over my life, and my wife is still adjusting to the lack of control she has over a man who won’t just let her be in charge when she clearly knows what she’s doing.
It’s a beautiful thing, people.
Driven to the Brink
The thing is, our car-driving fights aren’t what they were when we first got married. Although we can both still be hard-headed, I’m holding my tongue more these days — and why wouldn’t I? Heaven knows the number of times she’s saved me from driving the wrong direction or the various car accidents that didn’t happen because she raised her voice in the car. And not only has her tone softened, I’ve noticed that she uses a lot more discretion about whether it’s necessary to say anything at all when I’m driving.
A lot of men experience similar tension with their wives when it comes to negotiating car driving. I think the whole conflict is a picture of the adjustment that is required for marriage, because similar to my driving habits, in the years of singleness, you develop patterns, preferences, ways of doing things — and nobody gets a vote in what direction you’ll go except you. Then you meet this wonderful person whose opinion means so much to you, but it’s not long into the relationship before you discover that their opinion is regularly in conflict with yours. The endless frustration this provokes within is proof positive that what you really wanted was an amazing person who agrees with you.
But if you’re interested in changing for the better, you don’t really want that. I mean, just think about it: Whether I’ve appreciated it or not, my wife has literally pushed me in the right direction countless times because she has been willing to speak up about my misplaced confidence in my driving skills. And I can’t count the myriad of other ways she has positively changed the direction of my life because she was willing to challenge me.
So when you meet that person who both loves you and disagrees with you (even if they don’t always do it tactfully), rejoice. You could’ve gotten a doormat, a yes-man (or woman), a person who would smile politely and comply with whatever you suggested. And if you had gotten someone like that, only God knows how many wrong turns, missed exits, and longer routes you would’ve taken before you realized that He didn’t send you a mate to agree with you; He sent you a mate to help you grow up.
This post originally appeared at Boundless.org.