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Thread: Explaining driving anxiety to spouse

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017

    Explaining driving anxiety to spouse

    Hi everyone,
    I started driving a little later that my peers because I had my older siblings to drive me to events in high school and then I went to college in my home town. Even in grad school, I lived on campus and walked everywhere. I really only started seriously driving for my first job in 2012.

    Iím fine with driving my regular routes and can somewhat improvise if Iím still in town, but I have such bad anxiety if I have to take some new route in a slightly unfamiliar place or if I have to drive to a new destination.

    My husband is the complete opposite. He likes finding new routes and could just get in the car and drive anywhere. For me, I have to plan ahead and I have white knuckles by gripping the steering wheel so tightly.

    I know to others, this must sound completely stupid and immature, but itís a real issue. Itís also an issue to try to help my husband understand.

    We just found out that only one parent can accompany our younger child to his food allergy test in July, due to covid. We asked for an exception, but they are really strict. I know this is dumb, but I had hoped that my husband would drive us there and then wait in the car and then weíd all drive back. I know it would be boring for him, but he could read.

    He has basically said that itís nonsense for him to take time off of work to just sit outside when I could do it all myself. I donít know how to make him understand why this is a problem for me.

    The issues are:
    1. My son mostly likely does not have severe allergic reactions like his sister, but we really donít know until we try at the doctor. He could have a serious reaction in the car on the way home.

    2. Itís about a hour drive in an unfamiliar place on large highways.

    I know some will say to get over and Iím being ridiculous, but itís a real issue for me. Even with this fear, I would drive across the country and back for my kids.

    Does anyone have any tips to deal with the anxiety and to explain it to my husband? This isnít the first time itís come up.

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    , , United Kingdom.

    Re: Explaining driving anxiety to spouse

    It is all really about feeling safe in activity that you can control - such as driving a regular route that you know well - and not coping with uncertainty like not knowing where you are going, being far from home - particularly when you have the added responsibility of controlling your fears and anxieties whilst also being responsible for another human being.

    I have similar problems with agoraphobia when I have to drive away from my 'comfort' route where I can anticipate problems, potential obstacles and if the anxiety gets too much for me, knowing I am not to far from home and can get back easily. It is somehow worse when you are taking all this on board whilst having to be in control of a moving vehicle and simultaneously dealing with all the potential idiocy driving around on the roads.

    I don't even bother trying to explain to anyone why I feel like I do and the difficulties - perhaps self-imposed - that I have to contemplate. Anyone who doesn't suffer with agoraphobia will come out with the standard 'pull yourself together, what's the matter with you? response.

    As for coping with the anxiety, I just remind myself that if my fears get the worst of me, I can stop the car, pull over, ask directions - take a deep breath and carry on when I have calmed down a little. Take it in stages - a little further, then a little further and before you know it you will have arrived, seen to your business and then will be back home again. Can't really advise you on ow you might explain all this to hubby, but I would just be up front about it and tell him 'I can't do it and I need some support'. It's the way you are and it won't change until you feel that you have least have a measure of understanding no matter how ridiculous it seems to those around you. This might at least take a bit of the pressure off you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    Re: Explaining driving anxiety to spouse

    My husband has this a little bit. He also didn't start driving until he was almost 30 because he grew up in NYC, didn't need a car in college, and then after we lived in cities where we didn't need one for many years. It wasn't until we moved to the suburbs after having a child that he needed to be able to drive. He's much better now that he's been driving a few years, but he still like to plan ahead if he's going somewhere unfamiliar. He'll check the route on google and plan which roads he'll take depending on the location. He doesn't like having to make left turns over busy roads, for example, so he'll try to plan around that. The planning helps him avoid the anxiety once he's driving.

    Maybe for this you could plan out the route ahead of time. If you're nervous about your child having a reaction in the car, look in advance if there are hospitals or other places along the way you would be able to stop and know how you'd get to them. I think with a fear like this, exposure is the best therapy, so it's good to try your best. But, it's also not unreasonable to tell your husband you're already nervous about the appointment itself and you'd really appreciate him being there with you for support even if that just means driving and waiting in the car.

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