I’ve just returned home after yet another nightmare driving experience with my husband Frank. He did not used to be this way, but for the past year he drives very aggressively and is quick to anger at the slightest provocation by other drivers.
This morning we were being tailgated by some jerk and instead of just ignoring him, my husband slammed on his breaks and almost caused an accident. Two weeks ago he got out of his car in a parking lot and banged on the window of a driver who had cut him off. She took off and he wanted to follow her but I talked him out of it.
I am frightened for my husband and myself. What can I do to make him see that his behavior on the road is dangerous? What if the next person he has an altercation with has a gun?
I love my husband very much and have tried to talk to him about this but he won’t listen and seems to think the problem lies with everyone else, not him.
Dear Albuquerque Wife:
Thank you for your email and the subsequent conversation.
You have been married for 21 years and he has generally been a safe driver. Suddenly last year all that changed, and you don’t understand why. Please bear with me as I list several life changes that may have increased your husband’s propensity for angry driving.
I’m not surprised you didn’t put all this together, because it takes an advice genius named Robin DesCamp to identify such things. Fasten your seatbelt because truth can have injurious impact!
What the Hell is Happening With Frank?
1. A little over a year ago your husband lost his job and has not been able to find another one. He is deeply worried about the family finances and thinks he is not competitive in the job market any more because of his age (55).
2. One year ago your youngest child left the family home, forgoing college to travel around the southwestern US with her band. Your husband wanted very much for your daughter to go to college and someday law school, something your daughter never indicated she wanted to do.
3. His best friend died suddenly of a heart attack 9 months ago.
4. You have been busier than usual at work for the past year because your new position requires a lot of travel.
That’s a lot of change, most of it negative, for one man to take. It’s entirely possible he may be channeling his rage into his driving.
Make an appointment with a marital counselor and have an open discussion with your husband about how his driving affects you. Express how worried you are about his road rage leading to an accident with violent and/or deadly results.
Obviously there is a connection between his sudden change in driving and the tough year he has had. A counselor should be able to help him sort out his feelings in a productive way and redirect his anger into something positive.
Although you told me you think your marriage is happy, he may not be feeling the same way so take this opportunity to explore the health of your marriage.
2. Shock Him
Show him pictures like this, taken at the scene of a fatal road rage incident:
That photo shows the carnage that can result when people take something like a failure to signal as a personal affront and a challenge to a duel.
3. Drive Yourself
Don’t ride in the car with him until you think he has been working on this issue and you can trust him with your safety.
4. Educate Him on the Law
I can’t give you legal advice and I’m too lazy to look up some New Mexico links for you (Google is your friend!) but I can tell you that here in Oregon, a friend of mine was once arrested for assault for the same thing your husband did: getting out of his car and knocking on the window of another vehicle.
He didn’t pound on the window, he simply knocked. The woman behind the wheel had cut him off and almost caused a terrible accident, and he happened to be driving with his pregnant wife in the car.
In his anger, he got out at the next red light and knocked on her window to initiate a “conversation,” at which point the cowardly bitch called 911. The next thing he knew, he was being arrested.
In addition, in many states aggressive driving can result in higher traffic fines and insurance premiums, so if he is worried about finances he is really pissing on his own leg by driving like an ass.
5. Meet with his doctor together.
You told me that the aggressive driving isn’t the only change in your husband in the past year. He has also seemed moody, distant and impulsive. I don’t want to freak you out or anything, but major personality changes can be related to health issues both physical and psychiatric.
Make notes of all the changes you have noticed over the past year and discuss them with his doctor, and do this right away. I am going to follow up with you in a week to make sure you do, so get on that. The last thing you need is me tailgating your life from Cyberspace.
6. Buy more life and liability insurance.
If you can’t get this situation resolved, at least you can try to profit from it if he dies and protect your assets if he injures or takes someone else with him into the great beyond of nothingness.
Hey girl, I’m just being practical. Don’t hate the messenger.
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