Traffic: the true test of any marriage

Posted on
Aug 26, 2012

I think the true test of any marriage is how well you can handle being stuck in traffic together.

If you can spend the afternoon staring at the same vehicle in front of you while you crawl across the interstate at 4 mph and you don’t end up strangling your spouse with a sock by the end of it, you can probably get through anything. If you encounter gridlock so heinous, people in neighboring cars actually get out to WALK THEIR DOGS, and you contemplate abandoning your rental car and your beloved to run into the woods and live amongst the hill folk, but you don’t do it because you would miss your husband and processed foods too darn much, then pat yourself on the back. You have a solid relationship.

That’s just how I see it.

Of course, I’m biased. Rand and I have sat through a lot of traffic jams. Like we did the weekend before last – we were in Colorado visiting friends, and got delayed by an hour both to and from the airport.

Rand entertained himself by falling asleep for part of the ride.

I sort of wish had thought of that, but it’s probably best that I didn’t, since I was the one driving.

I’m only pretending to steer in this photo. The car wasn’t actually moving.

Instead, I kept myself busy by reading every single sign that we passed. I even photographed them.

Don’t worry about me using a camera while driving. The car wasn’t moving. Not. One. Damn. Inch.

And had time to do dramatic interpretations of each one for a drowsy Rand:

“Wake up and take a picture of me pretending to be a sheep!” / “Wait, what?” / “Stop asking questions and just DO it.”

Guess how I acted out this sign:

Answer: I farted.

It’s funny: despite being stuck motionless on the road for positively ages, we actually sort of had fun. Rand noted that it wasn’t all that different from sitting together on the couch, watching an awful TV show.

He was right. Hell, there weren’t even any awful commercials to fast forward through.

I attribute the success of our drive to six things:

  1. Snacks
  2. A really awesome soundtrack (thanks to several CDs we brought with us, each one masterfully curated by my husband)
  3. Refusing to jump ship car
  4. Appreciating the time you get to spend together
  5. Staying calm
  6. Occasionally making out

And if you think about it, those are the same things that make our marriage work, too.

That’s why I say if you can sit through traffic together, you’ll be just fine.

Leave a Comment

  • I’ve been married to my husband for 30 years. Every year, he has made the same New Year’s resolution—to be more patient. So, he’s not my first choice for someone to be trapped in non-moving traffic with—-although at this point, I can usually talk him down unless we are about to miss a plane or something. Our latest marital car test was driving on the “wrong” side in Ireland.

  • Throw a couple of kids in the back seat and you have family fun day out! It’s all about how you react to these things I guess. Every experience we have in life, even the traffic jams, is a part of the ride. We can sit and sulk when it doesn’t go to our plan, or we can accept the journey as unplanned and enjoy the ride taking pics, eating snacks, listening to music and occasionally making out. I like your way of thinking!

  • TheOtherLisa

    I’m 27 years married and all I cant think is that sheep impression photo may be one of the cutest things in the history of ever.

    The only marriage rule we really have stuck to is “no killing”. It’s worked for us so far.

  • Kristina Cline

    Snacks are crucial to surviving a log jam such as that, and the humor you bring to sign interpretation is priceless. I am using that the next time we get stuck. Getting out and running around the car helps too, I am not sure the title that I know that game by is politically correct.

  • I think I have failed the spousal traffic test. I often have to bring my husband to the airport before a business trip (as his company will pay me instead of the taxi). Usually it’s a Friday afternoon and the traffic is horrendous. I complain/whine for the entire ride before depositing him at the airport for his unfortunately long night of travel to Uganda or South Sudan. Then I drive home (still in traffic) feeling bad for complaining since I won’t be able to talk to him for the next week.

    I think snacks would help.

  • I think the biggest test our marriage has been canoeing in the dark in a mangrove swamp. We had our reasons. I have horrible night vision, and I can’t even steer a canoe on a Wii, much less in real life. My husband is much taller than I am, so it’s not my fault that I sailed under the low tree branch that hit him on the head. It was still a romantic trip.

  • I’m so glad I found your blog and I can’t even remember where.. 😉 I love your funny style of writing and have just been browsing through the site, reading bits and pieces. Have just added you to my reader! Great blog!
    We (my guy and me have been together for 20 yrs!) can have really have carrides/traffic rides and we can have really awful ones. Most of it depending on our mood and the need to be somewhere fast or not so fast. Most of the time we play silly games such as guessing songs or we talk endlessly about where we will be going on vacation next…

  • Janet T

    After 28 years of marriage I’m usually the passenger and navigator. Our worst traffic jam ever was on the I-5 through the San Joaquin valley- we were in the midst of a horrible dust storm in August. Couldn’t see anything ahead of us, barely crawled along, kept waiting to be slammed into by those who wouldn’t slow down despite the complete lack of visibility- oh and no air conditioner in the car- it would pull in too much dust (did I mention it was August in Central California?)- Survived that and many road trips with the kids (our daughter was car sick every road trip)

    Cutest sheep impression ever! It was so worth waking Rand up to take the picture. How can you have just had surgery, weeks ago and look so adorable?

  • Have you ever been stuck in LA during traffic hours? It gets so bad I almost lost a friend because I forgot to take the closest exit!

  • Bri

    You are hilarious. My husband and I have survived several months of our life together by this point (and this is a conservative guesstimation) sitting in traffic and driving absurdly long distances. We cope together in several ways – books on tape, endless conversations, NPR until it starts repeating itself (horrid feeling!), pulling over to make out, etc. And then there’s my husband’s vehicular narcolepsy…that’s what I’ve termed it. He can sleep darn near anywhere, and traffic is one of his favorite places. He plops right down, reclines the seat, leans his head back, and snores. To simultaneously compliment and combat this ruckus, I turn the radio up loud to a station he would hate. Immediately following that, I sing at the top of my lungs while he slumbers peacefully and the adjacent cars stare in horror. It’s bliss.
    Drive on.

  • Kara

    I was hoping the true test of marriage would be easier. This one terrifies me. Can’t it be ice cream compatibility or something?

  • Jen

    I am very impatient person, so waiting in traffic/lines makes me lose it. I also have a nervous bladder, and so if I’m stuck somewhere and know I won’t be able to find a bathroom for a while, that is, of course, when I suddenly really need to go. Even if I just did 15 minutes ago! Luckily, my husband balances me out: if I’m freaking out about traffic he is generally calm, and vice versa. I think we’ve been in a traffic jam in about that same spot, too!

  • I love my husband and we are both really go-with-the-flow people but he cannot handle traffic. Give the man delayed planes, train strikes or broken-down buses and he’ll be the picture of patience – but not traffic. It doesn’t matter if we aren’t in a hurry and we have nothing but time, traffic is what kills him!

  • “… wasn’t all that different from sitting together on the couch, watching an awful TV show.”

    That man is a genius.

    I will remember that later today when I am stuck in traffic with Kiddo and she shouts at all of the other cars, “Oh, come on!” I fear I have ruined her.

  • Farting is a very controversial concept in our modern society. Few people are willing to step up and accept responsibility. Only you can stop this ever growing epidemic.

  • Kathy

    The following conversation happened with my husband and I when we were stuck in traffic:

    Husband: I spy with my little eye something that starts with b.
    K: Brake lights.
    Husband: I spy with my little eye something that starts with e.
    K: Even more brake lights.

    This went on for quite some time to everyone’s amusement.

  • I will remember to bring more snacks next time we expect a winter storm to whip up while driving together . . . driving during a snowfall turned blizzard truly tested the marital bonds.

  • Or, how about 17+ hour car rides across the high plains, Midwest, mid south and over the Colorado Rockies with your wife, two kids and two chihuahuas so your wife could compete in triathlons. The highways were pretty much wide open. It was the inside of the car that was jammed. Of course, there was a bike and assorted gear for the race. It was nuts. But fun.

  • This was so much fun to read as all of your posts usually are ! This reminded me of all those trips as kids playing the alphabet game, Slug Bug and so forth. These days my road trips are with my Golden Retriever riding shotgun. And with no opposable thumbs I’m having a hard time getting him to take photo shots.

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