Dear Annie: My husband is a wonderful man in almost every respect. But when we are in the car together, he uses road rage to manipulate me into agreeing to things I don’t want. He’ll drive threateningly if I don’t say it’s OK for him to take that fishing trip or go to a movie. When he is the driver, he controls everyone because we are dependent on him.
I have pointed this out to him, but it always ends in a terrible fight. Worse, he punishes me by saying, “I will never take that trip again,” or “I won’t go to that movie with you.” He accuses me of provoking him. My husband’s nephew was the target of the same abuse when we traveled together recently. The boy was behaving like an angel, when suddenly my husband became enraged and demanded all sorts of concessions from his nephew.
For the longest time, I didn’t realize what was going on. I thought he just couldn’t handle driving. What I didn’t understand is that he uses road rage as a form of bullying and abuse. I don’t know how I was so blind for so many years. It is the perfect tool to get away with whatever he wants. It also is a form of torture, because he makes us feel responsible should he have an accident.
I don’t know whether we will ever go on another trip together or even to a movie, but I am willing to go by myself or with a friend – and my husband knows it. I have no idea where our marriage is headed after 24 years, but I am preparing myself to do whatever it takes. I don’t believe he would go for counseling, but I refuse to let him drive me anywhere ever again. – Virginia Wife
Dear Virginia: You are wise not to get into a car with this maniac. Since your husband is “wonderful” when he isn’t driving, however, please reconsider counseling. You don’t know how he will respond until you ask and make it clear how unhappy you are about such manipulative, controlling behavior. (But go in separate cars.)