Is driving overseas the ultimate test of a relationship?

October 17, 2017
Sheep on the road in Iceland.

There’s only one thing my partner and I argue about and that’s driving.

His driving.

Oh, and my alleged backseat driving.

Ok, not alleged. I’m 100 percent guilty.

But it’s totally his fault, Your Honour.

If he drove like a normal person then I wouldn’t feel compelled to offer advice and instruction, sometimes in an urgent, perhaps panicked way. And quite possibly in a (slightly) raised voice.

The problem is, shock horror, he abides by the road rules. So, when it says 40km/hour that’s the speed he travels. If it says ‘Stop’, he actually comes to a stop, not a slow crawl. And when he approaches a roundabout, he slows down and gives way.

When you drive with someone like that, you realise how little notice the rest of the population takes of the road rules. As JJ says, ‘people think the road rules apply to everyone but themselves.’ As a passenger with him at the wheel, it’s been enlightening. It’s also been absolutely PUNISHING.

To say he’s cautious is an understatement. His son calls him ‘Captain Slow’ and still wonders if he’s ever been out of first gear.

Driving overseas with JJ has taken things to a whole new level.

It all came to a head on a recent road trip around Iceland. It was our first ever road trip together and we covered about 2,500 kilometres in eight days of driving.

There’s only one road around the island – the Ring Road – a relatively narrow single lane in each direction where everyone is in a tearing hurry to see as much as possible. At times, it felt like we were in a rally car race, rushing from one spectacular attraction to the next.

More than once we found ourselves sailing past our turn-off point with 10 impatient cars up our rear and nowhere to turn around. It didn’t help that many of the road signs in Iceland are inadequate, often small, hard to read, and right at the point where you need to turn.

But what really brought us undone were roundabouts. With JJ at the wheel, it felt like we were in a bad movie where everything moves in slow motion. We’re stuck to the spot, unable to go anywhere while he looks around, ponders which direction we could, should, possibly, maybe, take … meanwhile 50 cars go by, there’s a bit of honking, hand wringing, head shaking, muttering … and that’s just from me!

JJ is possibly the calmest, easy-going person I know. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. He’s not one for histrionics. But after a few roundabouts he cracked. At one point in the middle of a busy intersection he threatened to get out and walk.

And from that point on, he refused to drive another kilometre.

It seems we’re not alone when it comes to driving with your partner overseas. Mention your roadtripping horror stories to friends and it becomes apparent that driving in a foreign country with your partner is the ultimate test of your relationship.

Just ask your friends. They’ll have their own relationship-threatening tales to tell.

So, from now on, I’m in the driver’s seat. He’s much happier and of course, so am I. We probably get to our destination a little faster and we’re both a lot less stressed.

What’s even better is that I don’t have to navigate. I confess I’m crap at reading maps, paper and mobile.

But that’s another story.

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