Dear Ms. Meniscus:A 10-hour road trip with a 2-stop problem

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and sometimes have trouble riding in a car for more than an hour at a time. My husband of forty years wants to go on a ten-hour drive to see our son this summer and wants to drive though with just two stops. I don’t think I can do it. We have been fighting a lot over this. I told him I’d rather not go than not be able to get out of car and stretch when I need to. 

Lois in Long Island

Dearest Lois:

Madame is rather perplexed by your husband, but we shall dissect this problem step by step, or should we say, mile by mile?  On second thought: maybe not with all that forthcoming mileage. And there is the keyword, Long Island Lois: forthcoming. What we must do is consider the missing pieces and hopefully it will lead to an illumination of the two-stop problem.

You’ve been married for forty-years, you have a son, and you have RA.  A ten-hour car ride would be uncomfortable for any person, and Mr. Husband knows very well that your RA complicates the situation. Madame will candidly state that many people (maybe even she) can’t bear to sit for extended periods in the car, so you have her sympathy.

Yet something is festering in the trunk. Maybe your husband fears that a ten-hour road trip is too difficult for you, and so he manages his anxiety by declaring rules before you even get on the road. What about the return trip? Oh! Just imagine if he were to need an “extra” stop, what then? Are you supposed to enforce the two-stop limit on him?

It’s rather ludicrous.  You know him best so you must think about his methods. Does he imagine that by warning you ahead of time that somehow magically you would require fewer breaks? Is this is his way of (not saying upfront) that he would rather go alone? That’s neither compassionate nor kind. Madame has considered (and rejected) the idea that perhaps your husband is under some kind of time pressure. What she’s really doing is wondering if this is a stalemate- and this argument about car breaks is more likely a front or difficult, resentful feelings that haven’t been aired in a long time. In other words it’s not about the number of stops you take.

What you really need to do Lois dear is to bring up the subject after a nice dinner or when Mr. Husband isn’t stressed or tired. Certainly the two of you have visited your son before, and have managed the road trip issue. The fact that you are “fighting a lot over this” tells Madame that more needs to be exposed than two pairs of legs getting out of the car. If all else fails and time and money aren’t pressing (aren’t they usually?) consider taking the train if that is an option. Madame thinks it’s a shame that our nation doesn’t have those beautiful, fast, efficient trains that exist elsewhere in the world. Then the two of you could relax in your seats or stretch your legs all afternoon.

Until then– explain to your husband that you are going to visit your son and it should be joyful. You certainly don’t want to arrive angry and frustrated, just to show your son how two people, married for forty years, still haven’t figured out how to resolve a dispute. Your son lives ten hours away from his parents. Realize that your time together is precious and limited, and make the best of what you have now. You all three are deserving.

Madame wishes you a peaceful journey.