Road Trips and Relationships
I LOVE driving. Growing up, my family and I would take road trips across the U.S. and Canada. For me, it is the best way to see everything this wonderful continent has to offer.
When my wife and I were attending graduate school, here in Denver, we would almost always drive back East to see our families in both Tennessee and South Florida. I drove every mile (like I said, “I LOVE driving.”). In 2015, there was an incident that left me unable to drive for two months, and I can surely say (and my wife will confirm) that these were the worst two months of my wife’s life.
Attending Denver Seminary together allowed us to carpool for class, but up to that point, I was the driver and my wife was the passenger. These were roles we were both happy in. However, when the roles reversed, I had a difficult time remembering that I was no longer behind the wheel.
“Now you need to get in that lane because this lane is going to end.”
“How much gas do you have?”
(These were the phrases my wife would tell me that were stuck in her head for months after we went back to our original roles.)
When we arrived at our destination my wife would get out of the car and make a bee-line for the classroom. I would always be running after her and asking her “What’s wrong?” “Are you mad at me?” “Is this about one of your friends?”
The “Couple Bubble”
What didn’t realize then, but know now is that my critical, controlling side-seat driving was bursting our “couple bubble.”
Stan Tatkin creator of the term “Couple Bubble,” wrote in his book, Wired for Love , “The couple bubble is an agreement to put the relationship before anything and everything else. It means putting your partner’s well-being, self-esteem, and distress relief first. And it means your partner does the same for you.”
As I reflected on this term and my comments toward my wife during this time, I realized that I didn’t keep any of these elements in mind.
We now laugh about that time together and when my wife is driving I keep my comments to myself. I try to make an intentional effort to keep in mind our couple bubble when we’re driving, visiting family, at the store, etc.
If you’re in a relationship now or hope to be one day, I would encourage you and your partner to begin integrating this concept into your relationship. Notice the changes that may begin to happen when you start to pay attention to your partner’s well-being, distress, and self-esteem. Ideally, this concept will communicate to your partner that you are safe to be around and when we feel safe with another, we are more likely to be vulnerable, intimate, and loving toward each other.
A Few Thoughts
If you’re looking to improve your marriage or relationship, what would you think about sitting down once a week and discussing your couple bubble with each other? Maybe you will discover something you do unknowingly that impedes your bubble and creates distance or distress in the marriage.
God doesn’t call us to be passive observers in our marriage. I tell my clients that paying attention to your spouse with intentionality and gratefulness will make you look at your partner differently and help you remember why you fell in love with them in the first place.
Are you or someone you know and love in a relationship where you struggle to connect and communicate well? We would love to set you up with one of our professional therapists. Feel free to explore our website and read through some of our therapist’s bios. Give us a call with your questions at 303-902-3068 or email us at [email protected]
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Director of Continuing Education and Training M.A., LpC, NCC
Some of Devin's specialties include:
- relational issues
- trauma and PTSD
- Certified Brainspotting Practitioner
- pre-marital and couples counseling (Devin is Prepare/Enrich certified)
- men's issues
- peak performance issues for athletes and performers
- emotionally-based chronic pain
Devin is also available for speaking engagements on trauma and the impact of trauma