Are You Steering Your Marriage or Have You Been Cruising?

Woman in car with man talkingLet’s go for a ride. I am going to show you how the journey through marriage is analogous to the journey through life with a new car. This juxtaposition could really hit home for the guys; it may be a good way to help your spouse understand what happens to a marriage that is put on cruise control and why it is vital to take hold of the steering wheel and drive your marriage in the right direction.

Auto: I want you to imagine that you bought a new car; the one you’ve always wanted but never could afford – till now; it’s shiny, has all kinds of cool gadgets and drives like a charm. You’ve never felt this way about any other car; you treasure it and are excited to begin your journey with this new and incredible automobile.

Marriage: You finally found the woman of your dreams; you have dated so many but knew she was the one you wanted to be with – forever. Walking down the aisle she looks magnificent; you are the envy of all the guys there. She is the love of your life. The honeymoon is amazing. How exciting to begin this journey with the woman that you admire and adore.

Auto: After the first year, you are still very happy with your car, but the novelty has worn off; you stopped parking it at the very back of every parking lot, and you found your first couple of dings; oh, well, nothing looks brand new forever; it’s still a fabulous car.

Marriage: You are celebrating your first anniversary. The first few months were amazing but it’s been more of an adjustment than you thought. You’re very happy but less ecstatic than you were last year. You bicker over some little things but you are still very much in love.

Auto: One day you feel like going for a drive, sans GPS; no specific destination in mind, just a vague idea about which direction you want to head. Feeling tired of driving you turn on your cruise control. Now you can relax.

Marriage: Our marital journey doesn’t offer a GPS; we talked about having a family but never really mapped out how we would manage money or careers, or when we’d have kids. We are so busy, let’s put the marriage on cruise control; it’ll happen in its own time.

Auto: As you’re cruising, your eyelids become heavy and just for a moment you start to fall asleep. The rumble strips awaken you with a jolt and you slam on the brakes. Wow, that was scary I better stay awake for this ride. I could have lost control of the steering wheel and hit someone.

Marriage: You’ve been cruising; kids and careers happen; life is focused on the kids – too much to do and not enough time; you’re always sleepy. One day you see a young couple walking together hand in hand. Like a lightning bolt it hits you that you and your spouse aren’t connected; no dates, no sex; you’ve lost control of the marriage. It scares you to think, “What if I am not “in love” with her anymore?” Someone might get hurt here.

Auto: Hitting the brakes so hard, made your seat belt too snug, you’re uncomfortable and want to unbuckle it, but know that would be dangerous.

Marriage: This marriage is boxing me in; I want to run away but what would my life be like. I’m too scared to find out.

Auto: All of a sudden you realize you’ve been driving so long, you have run out of gas. You just make it to the gas station but only have a few bucks so you get a quarter of a tank, enough to get you home.

Marriage: You feel the marriage is boring; you’re more like roommates; your love tank is on empty. That night you have sex and feel connected but it’s not like it used to be.

Auto: The next day you see an ad for the new car models coming out. How wonderful it would feel to have the excitement of a new car; you are tempted to trade your car in for a newer model.

Marriage: You start a project at work and the new woman in your department is on your team; you have lunch with her and she admires your work. She’s really pretty; you start to have feelings of excitement that you haven’t had in years. You imagine what it would be like to have an affair and trade your wife in for a newer model.

The wonders and the risks of your journey with your new car mirror the wonders and risks of your marital journey. The moral of the story is: If you allow your marriage to rely on cruise control, it may not last forever; so take the wheel and steer.

Here are the lessons about marriage that we can learn from this:

  • Enjoy the bliss of a new relationship: Don’t expect the honeymoon to last forever – depth, not butterflies, are what makes a marriage amazing.
  • Consciously co-create your future together: Don’t put your marriage on cruise control – plan and take charge of it.
  • Stay awake in your marriage: Don’t fall asleep at the wheel – live your relationship consciously.
  • Keep expanding the boundaries of your life together: Don’t allow your relationship to become routine – create newness together.
  • Keep your love tank full: Don’t let your marriage run out of gas – remember, love is a verb.
  • Look toward, not away from, your relationship for the head, heart, hormone connection: Affairs wreak havoc on partners, children and families – You can consciously co-create a loving relationship that lasts a lifetime.

© Copyright 2011 by By Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Hannah G

    September 2nd, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Cruising along and not very happy. And kinda bummed about that cuz I am a newlywed for crying out loud and I am not even sure I want to be married anymore!

    I thought that this was what I wanted but now I am not sure. I saw my parents cruise along and everything seemed ok, but I want better than ok.

  • Viki

    September 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Been there,done that.I’ve been in the cruise-control-and-realizing-afterwards situation and the marriage didn’t last. Its hurtful but at least it did not end with bitterness.

    both realized there was no real connect and parted ways. May be having no children did help the issue.

  • Ernie Black

    September 10th, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    I’d say I’m on cruise control right now (great automobile metaphor btw) but after reading this I am going to start steering again baby! I’ve only been married for a year and a half and half and have just recently taken “my hands off the wheel” the dust has settled and of course I still love my wife but the newly married novelty has worn off. I didn’t see a problem in taking this hands off approach to marriage and so far are marriage hasn’t suffered from it. But I’m glad I found this article because the consequences that you suggest might come about with this marriage approach are not what I would like my marriage to turn out like at all. Because of this I’m gonna change everything, and complete revamp our marriage. This way we can keep steering for the rest of our lives! Thanks a lot you might have just saved our marriage before either of us even knew it needed to be saved!

  • Hannah Caradonna

    November 18th, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    I especially like the analogy to the car driving being like a marriage. What I am not in agreement with is the objectification of the wife. There are two people in a marriage, not a man and his object/car. The wife has equal participation in the relationship.

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