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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

The Husband Test

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I think I’ve developed a new test to see if a guy is husband material. Now, it’s probably not foolproof and I’m not going to offer a money-back guarantee or anything, but then again, I’m not going to charge you anything for it either.

All you have to do is go car shopping with him. Not looking for a car for you. Or even for a car that is designated to be shared from the outset. But for a car that is going to be his.

I can hear you now, “Lisa, did you hit your head ziplining the other day? Or maybe you’re finally having one of those teacher breakdowns. This is just nuts.”

Hopefully you know by now that I’m anything but normal and you trust me enough to hang with me.

Until 2005, my ex went through an assortment of cars, most of which I never drove. There was the 1956 Chevy without power steering that felt like wrestling the Hulk. There was the 1992 Integra he got from my mom whose clutch was out of reach for my petite femurs. This was followed by a pickup truck whose dimensions and layout intimidated me.

And then in 2005, he decided he wanted a good car. A new car. His own car. He decided on a 4Runner to maintain some of the utility of the truck while gaining the luxury of leather and fully conditioned space.I went with him to the dealership where I briefly test drove the vehicle in a parking lot after my husband took it through its paces on the open road. Even though my name was on the loan and on the title, that was only time I was ever behind the wheel.

Now, in all fairness, some of that was my doing. It was a large vehicle and driving it was out of my comfort zone. But asking to drive it was even more out of my comfort zone. Although generous in many respects, I somehow understood that his car was not mine to drive. It was his domain. And I was always a visitor.

Many years later, I was home sick from work, sleeping on the couch in my apartment. The phone rang, waking me from my feverish slumber. Seeing Brock’s name on the display, I picked up the phone and mumbled a groggy and somewhat irritated, “Hey.”

“I need you to come with me to buy a car.”

“What? I’m sick; I feel like crap. That’s the last thing I want to do,” I complained. I knew his old car was on its last legs and a new purchase was imminent, but seeing that we had only been dating for 6 months, I didn’t see what it had to do with me.

“I found a car I like and that should work, but I won’t buy it if you can’t drive it.”

What else could I do? I put some clothes on and stumbled down the stairs and met him in the parking lot of my complex. On the drive across town, he talked through the purchase, enumerating the pros and cons of the used CRV. I tried to pay attention, but it honestly became a blur. Once at the dealership, he insisted that I drive the car. Not just in a parking lot. But on a road. Certain that I was comfortable (or at least as comfortable as I could be with a raging case of strep throat), we went inside to the offices. I read a book while he handled the negotiations and all the paperwork. This time, I had no financial or legal claim to the vehicle, yet I already felt more like a co-owner than I ever did with the 4Runner.

His initial generosity with the car has continued; I’ve driven it on and off over the years, especially when my car is being naughty. But, at the end of the day, it’s just a Honda. And a used one at that.

The real test actually hit this past week. When we first met, Brock had a motorcycle that he loved. He eventually decided to sell it (I think the fun/danger ratio finally got to him) with the intention of someday buying a Corvette to take its place. I’ll be honest, I never understood the…well, drive for the muscle car. It seemed silly to me, but it was important to him.

Recently, he’s been getting closer to making that dream a reality. And, also recently, my car has been throwing a hissy fit. I saw the two events as basically separate. The ‘Vette, although still a dream, was his baby. And the CRV would frequently be required for his work. My transportation was another issue entirely. So I was shocked yesterday at his proposal, “There’s a Corvette I’m going to look at tomorrow and I want you to come with me. I want to make sure you can drive it.”

He went on to say that if my car’s recent tantrum turned out to be the beginning of the end, we could sell my car and make the Corvette my primary vehicle until I was able to get my own car.

I think my jaw dropped. This was his dream and I was more than just invited. I was being offered the keys.

We test drove the car. And, even as nonchalant as I am about all things car, I have to admit it was pretty freaking awesome. And even better, my foot reaches the clutch.

From there, we went to go pick up my car after its most recent surgery. I’m happy to report that it received a clean bill of health and a prognosis of a long and healthy life ahead.

When it comes down to it, I really don’t care that much about what I drive.

But what I do care about is that I now have a husband that will let me take the driver’s seat.

Even if he does tease me for going too slowly:)

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12 thoughts on “The Husband Test

  1. Although I am done with the marriage dance, it is interesting to see what some women find of most importance for whatever the reason. On the same token, the ability of a woman to drive a vehicle is very important in the same way it is very important for a man to have a woman who can drive his ass to the hospital. On the same line, I find it important for a woman to be able to handle a vehicle, a weapon, and such things which would be important in a bad situation.

    The emphases upon the male providing protection and support goes both ways. I have also found that despite all the hoo haa over female empowerment issues, when rubber hits the road, there are still things women want men to do for them that could be seen as archaic or sexist by some. It has also been interesting that although women have driven the movement for men to be primary care givers, women do not have the respect for men who do so as they might like to pretend in public.

    I was most impressed that you said you were able to reach the clutch. It is rare that I would trust a woman to drive me, yes, I said it, but it would bring a little smile knowing that the woman I am with can drive a standard and able to work a clutch. Pretty manicures and outfits are nice to look at but the ability of a woman to work a clutch reflects a practical side to a woman that some women think is unimportant.

    1. I bought a new car just before filing for divorce last year, and I decided to buy a manual transmission, despite the fact that I didn’t know how to drive one. The dealership taught me (AFTER I signed the dotted line, of course!), and I drove it home (into the city!) that day.

      One of the most empowering and best things I ever did. It was one of the first steps I took towards reclaiming my life. A week later, I drove that car to see my family, and while talking with my mom’s boss, he said he heard the story about how I learned to drive on the lot and drove it home the same day. He said, “That takes some serious b*lls, to do what you did!”

      So I know whatever comes up, whatever I have to face, I just remember that triumph, and think, “I’ve got serious b*lls. I can handle this.”

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