It was my personal opinion that if your car had a GPS, your marriage had at least a fifty percent better chance of lasting than the national average.   I confess that this conclusion was not based on a government-sponsored scientific research study, but rather on anecdotal evidence gathered from years of road trips with two different husbands.  (I offer the fact that I even had two different husbands as support for my hypothesis.) 

Second only to an argument about the air-conditioner setting, there was nothing more conducive to a shout-fest than riding in a car with one’s spouse on your way to a location where neither of you had ever been.

One of you would be driving, the other holding the map.  In my case, the map was usually upside down.  Map-reading is not a skill that is on my resume.  The driver, (him) relying on the map-reader (me) as the car approached the fork in the road, could get very hot under the collar while I was still struggling to determine if the location in question was the pink one or the green one.

“Don’t you see it?” his words would say, while the message conveyed by the tone of his voice was “Are you blind or stupid?”  While not so good at map-reading, I was very good at interpreting tones of voices.  “Don’t yell at me,” I would retaliate.  “It’s not my fault if the map-maker forgot to include this intersection.”

“I’m not yelling at you!”

“Yes you are!”

“No I’m not.  Let me see that.”

“It’s not here I tell you.”

“It has to be.  Give me the map, I’ll find it!”

Implicit in that last remark is “you’re a dodo!” I fight back the tears.

While reminiscing about the past does give rise to a certain nostalgia surrounding the old-fashioned map fight, I definitely do not want to resurrect the good old days.  Instead, I embrace the introduction of the GPS in automobiles.

Unlike map-reading, I have actually conquered the technology and, as a result, I am no longer afraid of it.  (I cannot say the same about maps.)   Rather, I bless it for taking the guesswork out of travel.   And for freeing us to argue about more important things, like the air conditioner setting.   Because of my GPS, I find car trips infinitely more relaxing than they used to be.

At least they were until my husband (the second and as yet current one) began having arguments with the disembodied female voice.

It all started one evening when we were meeting some friends for dinner at a place where we had never been.  No problem.  The GPS has given me heretofore unknown confidence to take on new destinations.  I proudly program the system with the address, and we are on our way.  As usual, I’m driving and my husband is engrossed in his I-phone.

All is going well until he puts the phone away and decides to start paying attention to the route on which we’re traveling.   He confirms that the GPS is doing a good job because this is the way he would have gone.  What a huge relief!

We are approaching an intersection.  “In a half a mile, prepare to turn right,” the voice informs me.  I am about to engage my directional signal.  “That’s wrong,” my husband suddenly proclaims.  “We should go straight.”

I become aware of a tightness in the back of my neck and realize it is the return of the old tension from the map-reading days.  I am forced to render a decision.  Husband or GPS?  Although I’m not inclined to consider a third spouse, I take a risk and choose the GPS.  “Sorry, honey,” I say, “but let’s try it her way,” as I signal for a right turn.  He begrudgingly agrees, still claiming that it makes no sense.  I imagine the GPS winking at me.

I am unprepared for the second episode of disagreement, yet it occurs.  “This time, I know I’m right,” he swears.  “Go straight.”   Not wanting to push my luck, I obey.

This action, of course, agitates the GPS who begins sputtering “route recalculation, route recalculation. “  As I further ignore her demand that I make a U-turn, she says it again.  This time I imagine that her voice has become surly.   She is clearly pissed.  And I am losing my mind.

Later that night, when I can’t sleep, I relive the events of the evening.  The fact that my husband had actually been correct in the second dispute will only encourage further challenges.  The future I had envisioned with no more road trip tension is now threatened. I cherish my husband, but I refuse to relinquish my GPS.

Sweetheart, If you really love me, please don’t make me choose!