Let’s face it, I’m a control freak. And not in the “I know best” kind of way. In the “you probably know best but I don’t trust you completely so why don’t you just let me do it” kind of way.
Whew. It feels good to confess that (as if my loved ones did not know). Is this the first step?
My biggest control issue is with driving. Even though I rarely drive and it is a running joke with my friends that I frequently get lost, I still can’t stand for someone else to be in control of the car. I hate being in the passenger seat, mainly because the brake pedal doesn’t work over there.
My husband is a more aggressive driver than me. Frankly, Mother Theresa was probably a more aggressive driver than me. And he has a good driving record and has never failed to deliver me safely to any destination.
But I still nag. And clench my teeth. And gasp. And grab the door handle. And of course press down on the non-existent passenger brake. Pretty soon I’ll have a Fred Flinstone car that is foot propelled from the holes in the floorboard.
It may amaze you to discover that it bothers my husband when I do this. Shocking, I know. And some of our biggest fights are in the car. He’s too aggressive, I’m too much of a nag, he’s speeding, I’m cringing, and neither one of us is having a good time.
Fortunately for us, neither one drives much anymore. He takes a shuttle to work, and I work from home. A lot of our activities are within walking distance or public transportation from our home, so we only get in the car a few times a month, usually for an extended period of time. Maybe that is why this problem never seems to get resolved.
Last week we had a resolution. Or at least a small hope of a resolution.
After yet another trip (to the Rick Steves travel fair, no less), we had another spat. How in the heck are we going to get along on the road if we can’t even be in the car for 30 minutes together?
And you know what I realized? I wanted him to drive like me and respond like me…from the passenger seat view.
When you drive, you have a specific vantage point, and all your training and reflexes are geared toward being in that driver’s seat. I was interpreting everything as the driver while sitting in the passenger seat and asking him to go against his training to respond to my view.
We’ve been fighting about this for years and it finally dawned on me that it will never be resolved until I give up control and act like a passenger when I’m not driving.
So, as a little reminder I now will say “I trust you to get us there safely” when he is driving and remember my role as passenger. We’ve been in the car once since then, but it was a rainy night in rush-hour traffic, and we did not fight. My statement reminds me that I’m choosing to give up my control by being a passenger and reminds him that he has my trust and shouldn’t do anything to lose it.
This is one of those old fights that may not go away overnight, but I think we’re making some real progress here.
Where do you have unreasonable expectations of control in your relationships? Or where is it hard to let go even when the other person has superior knowledge or skills?