Turn Here! Slow Down!

Driving is a classic topic in couples therapy since it evokes power and control issues. Commands such as “Turn here,” “Park here,” “Go this way” are examples of a passenger directing a driver how to drive. The driver routinely gets annoyed by these directives. To minimize this irritability, the driver has the prerogative to drive as they see fit.

A passenger may use self-disclosure to communicate, e.g., “I find going this way quicker than that way.” This is more effective since the driver has the choice of changing course or continuing on the same route without reacting to a command.

Another directive has to do with the passenger’s safety. “Slow down” and “Watch out for that car” are examples of these. In these cases, the passenger is experiencing fear or anxiety about the driver’s speed or is concerned that the driver isn’t aware of a quickly approaching vehicle. The passenger feels their safety is at risk and is expressing feedback with these statements.

If the driver responds to a statement such as “Slow down” by saying “I’m not going that fast” or “Chill out,” the driver is being dismissive of the feedback. In these instances, the passenger sounds like they are issuing commands, but they are actually conveying feedback of fear. For a driver to ignore such requests is disrespectful.