Road Trip

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” — Fitzhugh Mullan

According to a 2001 study by the Center for Transportation Analysis, the average time someone spends in a vehicle, whether as the driver or as a passenger, is one hour per day. And for adults between the ages of 35 and 44, that average increases to more than 80 minutes a day!

We can all relate to that, right? Whether it’s the daily commute to and from work, a hectic schedule of taxiing kids to school and other activities, or simply running errands, driving is a significant part of our everyday experience.

The question is: How do you use that time? Is driving simply a chore—a means of getting from “point A” to “point B?” It doesn’t have to be that way. Rather than allowing drive time to become just another part of the daily grind, consider making it an opportunity to connect with those you love. You don’t have to wait for family devotions or some other pre-planned event to connect with your kids. You can have meaningful conversations and make genuine connections during the hour or more every day that you spend in the car with them.

The same is true for you and your spouse. It’s important, while you’re in the car together, to embrace the opportunity to connect through conversation. It’s about enjoying the drive rather than simply getting through it. We call this “Windshield Time.” You may be simply making a quick trip to the grocery store. But those few moments in the car—something that seems so basic and routine—represent an opportunity for you and your spouse to share your feelings and connect. That’s Windshield Time!

Think back to last month’s date. Did you talk about anything meaningful in the car on the way to dinner, or were you simply in a hurry to get to your destination? After dinner, did you share anything special with one another when you were en route from the restaurant to the shared activity that was the focus of last month’s Date Night?

Whether we’re talking about Date Night, or any other time that you and your spouse have time together in the car… it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey!

DATE NIGHT

Remember to always act like you’re trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage, we forget that we need to pursue and “woo” our mate. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate—hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine. And remember, your date doesn’t begin when you arrive at the restaurant. Be sure to engage with your spouse just as soon as you leave your front door and get in the car. Sneak in a little Windshield Time before you arrive at the restaurant!

Step 2: Hit the Road

As we’ve already noted, most often Windshield Time will take place during the course of your daily routine, such as running errands or picking the kids up from school. However, in order to get more comfortable with the idea of connecting with your spouse while driving, the majority of this month’s date will be spent in your car. Just drive, and enjoy having the extra time to connect with one another. Here are some ideas to get you started on your “mini road trip:”

  • Don’t be afraid to venture outside the city limits. In fact, you might incorporate this idea into Step 1, and drive to a neighboring city for dinner.
  • Are there any scenic by-ways in your area? Are there out-of-the-way back roads that are known for their sightseeing potential? Explore the world around you.
  • If you’ll be driving after dark, find out whether there are any roads in the area that overlook the city lights. There’s nothing like taking in a romantic city scape!
  • Even if you’d rather stay close to town, there are likely places nearby that you might enjoy seeing from inside your car—a famous building, a city landmark, or an historic neighborhood.

Step 3: Make it Meaningful

Remember, driving for driving’s sake is not the point here. The purpose is to learn how to connect with meaningful conversation while you’re in the car. Windshield Time is a chance to invest in your spouse and take an interest in him or her. This is important on your Date Night, of course, but it’s especially critical during those times in the car that might otherwise seem routine and mundane. Here are some possible topics of conversation:

  • What are four questions that I could ask you on a regular basis that would tell you I’m interested in your daily life? (For example: How are you feeling? How is your relationship with our kids going? How are things going with your friends? What has God been teaching you lately?)
  • What are some ways I can show you that I’m interested in you and knowing you better?
  • What are some ways I can more effectively communicate that I love you?
  • Did you go on “family drives” with your family as a child? How did that time make you feel?
  • Out of all the Date Nights we’ve experienced together thus far, which one has been your favorite? Why?

Step 4: Relax and Unwind

After your mini road trip is over, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to slow down and emotionally connect over good conversation. In addition to the above questions, answer the following. Be sure to keep your responses positive, encouraging and uplifting.

  • What was your favorite part of the evening?
  • What is one thing you learned about me tonight that you didn’t know before?
  • Over the coming week, what are some ways we can maximize Windshield Time to help stay connected?

Step 5: Home Sweet Home

As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. And remember that the trip back to your house isn’t just a matter of going between points on a map—it’s yet another opportunity to nurture and develop your relationship with your mate. Once you get home, however, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!

© 2012 Focus on the Family.