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Wedding Week Guest – Andrea Paterson

May 30, 2011

In six days I’m getting married, and to celebrate, I’ve asked a few of my favorite bloggers to put together some little guest posts for me. Today the wonderful Andrea Paterson of Traveling the Amaranth Road has a fantastic post about the perils of driving and marriage.

Waiting for Dinner


This is my first experience as a guest blogger! Thanks to Ashley for inviting me to write this post. With Ashley’s own wedding on the horizon I would like to share a story about marriage and  my honeymoon to Rome:

A few months after our wedding my new husband and I set out on a honeymoon to Italy. We were looking forward to a break after the extended chaos of our engagement, wedding planning, and all associated parties.  It was an exciting year but we were worn out and needed some time to sip good Italian wine and sample the local harvest. Little did we know that within the first week of our honeymoon we would be subjected to a test of our marriage–the sort of event that encompasses what being married is all about and teaches you something about what it means to devote yourself fully to another person. Any newly weds traveling in Italy should give it a try as the ultimate team building exercise. To complete the test, follow these instructions:

1. Go to Rome
2. Spend a lovely three days there
3. Take a cab to a car rental place and pick up the car that you will drive for the next two weeks through the Italian countryside
4. Put yourself and your spouse to the test by attempting to drive out of Rome.

I’m not sure how many of you have been to Rome and seen the traffic situation there, but before we even got into our rental car my husband and I knew that we were in for a challenge. Rome is a city built around ancient monuments and archaeological sites. Because of this the road system is haphazard at best. The streets bend around relics and architectural wonders rather than traversing straight lines, and it’s not uncommon for the street you’re on to spontaneously change names on the other side of some fantastic Duomo. And that’s just the navigational challenge. Throw in the fact that many streets are one way and many of them are cobblestone and many of them are too narrow for more than one car at a time. Then toss in some heart-stopping traffic–more cars than you think should fit on the road and mopeds using the yellow dividing lines as a corridor for travel or mopeds weaving in and out of traffic like dragonflies from hell. There are no real rules of the road in Rome. Everything is a mere suggestion so as my husband and I sat in our rental car contemplating the mind boggling maze of a map we experienced some mutual terror.

My husband was going to drive and I was going to navigate. Division of labour is important in a marriage and it’s best to give each partner chores that they excel at. I can’t drive standard so the driver situation was a no-brainer.  This left me with the ominous task of map reading and I knew that if I gave even one incorrect direction or even one instruction too late that we could end up hopelessly lost in a city full of irate drivers who seem to be able to operate their horns telekinetically. We ran into trouble immediately when my husband couldn’t figure out how to put our car in reverse. It was tricky for some reason and panic began to fill the vehicle like smog.  My hands became clammy and I could feel my pulse like a hammer pounding the walls of my body. But we had to do this and we had to do it together. We pulled into the street and began one of the most terrifying drives of my life.

We estimate that we were honked at a dozen times. Throughout the journey I fought the urge to crumple up my map and hide under the dashboard. I read the road signs with desperation, kept one eye glued to the map and the other glued to the road. My husband employed his greatest powers of concentration to keep us from being crushed by other traffic. Within a half hour we reached the circular highway that runs around the perimeter of Rome and soon the highway stretched out into the Italian countryside. We breathed a great sigh of relief and agreed that driving out of Rome strengthened our devotion to each other. When you take someone’s life in your hands you’re likely to gain a greater appreciation for them.

That drive was a marriage in miniature–it had drama and tension; obstacles and problem solving; team work and communication. And it ended in a good tale and a shared sense of accomplishment. Our one year anniversary is creeping up now and when we think back on our first year as husband and wife we frequently return to our drive out of Rome as a defining moment in our evolving marriage. We each trusted the other to bring us through a challenging situation unscathed and had our trust rewarded. While we don’t plan to drive out of Rome ever again I hope that our marriage will follow a similar trajectory: shared strength, courage, and cooperation as we navigate life’s road and then, at the end of the day, a chance to sit together drinking to our strengthened love while meeting the darkening sky with a joy borne of a life made better through sharing it.

Congratulations Ashley and M. on your upcoming marriage and best wishes for a wonderful life together.

Andrea Paterson

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