• Wed. Sep 21st, 2022

Ask Amy: My Husband’s Driving Makes Me Very Anxious

ByElla E. Kidwell

Aug 28, 2022


dear Amy: I have been married to my husband for over 30 years. Our relationship is loving, but difficult.

I have always done most of the changing, adapting and forgiving. Apologizing is not his forte, but he is a good and generous man.

We are both successful professionally and we support each other. Our adult children all live nearby. We are a close and loving family.

I recently developed a condition called Amaxophobia – a specific phobia about driving in a vehicle. Symptoms include extreme anxiety, shortness of breath, nausea, and rapid heartbeat.

I have all of these symptoms, but only when I’m a passenger in the car my husband drives. It doesn’t affect me when I’m the driver or riding with other people.

My husband has always been a fast driver, speeding up and tailgating other cars. For the past few years I’ve had to hold onto the seat or side door and press my feet to the floor to feel safe, but recently my anxiety has increased.

The last time we rode together, I was in tears: sweating, difficulty breathing, gnashing of teeth and fear of having an accident.

We had long discussions about this. He has agreed to drive more slowly, but does not. I suggested he drive locally and I drive on the highways.

He doesn’t want to make this change, so I’ve been going to town (45 mins away) with friends for several months – I always agree to travel as a passenger with him when we’re in town.

He blames me now for ruining our future retirement. He doesn’t want to go to therapy.

I don’t have any other anxiety or fear issues. Any suggestions I’m forgetting?

— Wife looking for answers

Looking at: Your husband’s career of dangerous driving, speeding and tailgating is more likely to lead to an accident as he gets older and his reaction time slows down.

I doubt he would allow a neutral person to review his driving, but AARP offers an online driving course (aarpdriversafety.org); I suspect that passing this course could reduce insurance premiums, as well as train your husband in safer driving.

He has staked his position, and you should be very realistic about your options and choices. Your body’s extreme anxiety reaction is a distinct signal telling you what to do. It’s your high-speed “fight or flight” response.

I suggest you buy, borrow, or rent a second car—or use another mode of transportation—when you and he are traveling a long distance, so you can get to your destination safely and ( fingers crossed) see your husband when you arrive.

Arriving safely at your destination doesn’t ruin your retirement; it saves him.

Please seek therapy for yourself, both to manage your anxiety and to discuss your response to your husband’s rigidity and disrespect.

dear Amy: I have been with my partner for 22 years. We lived together for most of that time.

We talked about getting married when our respective children graduate from high school. It was 10 years ago.

My partner’s son, “Sam”, who is now almost 30, still lives with us. He pays absolutely nothing, does nothing for the house and works when he feels like it. His mother always does his laundry and changes his sheets for him.

He now brings a bunch of stuff home and thinks it’s okay to do so.

I totally disagree with the whole scenario. I think we should tell him to leave.

I’m confused because it’s been 22 years and it puts a lot of pressure on the home front. I feel like the clues I threw out there don’t seem to bother anyone or make a difference.

Used: Your patience and passivity have reached pathological proportions. I assume you believe you have no power or say in this relationship. But it’s your life and your home, and you have the right (and responsibility) to claim what you want.

It’s time to stop hinting and start talking.

dear Amy:I have to admit, I was quite surprised – and happy – to see you advocating for fun and shameless “hot sex” in your normally very laid-back column – in your response to “older woman.”

Fan: This must be due to the heat wave this summer.

(To clarify – all of this hot sex should be between available, consenting adults.)

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency