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Sex with Dr. Jess


May 16, 2017

How to Avoid Fights in the Car!

It’s road trip season! Pack up that car, rally the troops and get ready for the open road.

What fun!

That is, until, you get lost, take a wrong turn, take a few too many pee breaks and find yourselves hangry in a hot car with a backseat driver who can’t stop humming 80s pop songs. Jess discusses this roadtrippin’ research on Global TV’s The Morning Show. Check out her advice in the video below.

Research shows that it only takes 22 minutes for couples to start fighting once they’ve hopped in the car, but we’ve got some tips for harmonious road trips to ensure that you start your vacation on the right foot.

1. What are couples fighting about in the car?

71% of couples have fought in the car and the most common cause relates to getting lost. But no topic is off limits. Couples fight about a range of subjects including:

44% — directions/getting lost
37% — where to park
34% — driving too quickly
24% — driving too close to other cars
20% — backseat driving
20% — music/radio choices
17% — aggressive driving
15% — taking corners too quickly
15% — heat too high
14% — air-conditioning too low

2. Are these minor arguments or serious fights?

  • They tend to be heated conflicts. 20% of drivers have pulled over and asked a passenger to exit their car.
  • There are general gender gaps in terms of the way we give directions. Men are more likely to refer to distance and women are more likely to refer to landmarks.

3. What is it about road trips that lead to fights?

Humans are not only wired, but socially conditioned to desire control. When you’re on the open road (especially traveling with kids), you don’t have much control over weather, traffic, washroom needs, noise, etc.. When we don’t have control, we experience stress. And our patience wears thin when we travel. If you think of patience and self-control like a muscle, it makes sense that it eventually tires out.

You’re in a hyper-vigilant state when driving and this can be emotionally-triggering for some people.

4. Are there any marital benefits related to road tripping?

  • Research also shows that couples look forward to road trips, as the sense of adventure adds a sense of passion and excitement.
  • Couples also report that they have more intense and meaningful conversations in the car (when they’re not fighting); you’re forced to continue the conversation and you’re not required to look one another in the eye, which can facilitate conversations that are more profound and controversial.

5. How do you avoid fights while in the car

  • Allow one person to be in charge: the driver.
  • Let the driver call the shots and decide how (if at all) they want to receive directions and input. Just as you assign specific roles at work, so too should you adhere to defined roles while travelling.
  • The bottom line: stay in your lane. If you’re a passenger, be a passenger.
  • Select your GPS app (Waze, Google Maps) in advance to eliminate conflict on the road.
  • Pack snacks. We’re not rationale or empathetic when we’re hungry or thirsty.
  • Select music in advance, as this can impact your mood, heart rate, and blood pressure.