Why Can’t My Husband & I Find Direction?

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.  Here’s this week’s column:

My husband and I are struggling to find direction.

I don’t mean direction like agreeing on common values for our family, how we raise our kids, or where we will retire.

No, this struggle is far more immediate and somehow more challenging than that.

When I say we’re struggling to find direction, I mean just that, or rather, find directions.

I know I’m only about a year into this marriage thing, so maybe you, Dear Reader, can help me here.

Is it just how the male and female brains are wired differently that we cannot agree on how to read directions? How to get from here to there?

This should seem so easy in this new wonderful age of GPS. You simply plug where you want to go into your phone, it does that spinny thing where it figures out where you are, and Presto! You have directions!

Oh, were it only that simple.

This is exactly the point where the divide happens. A philosophical difference greater than any religious conflict.

My husband’s brain needs to look at a map. I need to look at written words.

“The directions say, ‘Turn right at the next signal,’” I tell my husband as I navigate from the front passenger seat.

“Are you looking at the map?” he wants to know.

“No, I clicked on the icon that spells the direction out in words,” I say.

“You have to look at the map,” he insists, as if the typed directions will lead us only to Timbuktu.

“What do you care if I look at the map or the words?” I wonder. I don’t get a sense of direction from a map. For him, words might as well be written in Portuguese.

“It has to be a map,” he insists. “You need to follow the blue dot.

Ah, the dreaded Blue Dot, that flashing orb of misguided evil that promises it knows exactly where you are standing on the globe. Only it doesn’t always get it right.

We’re just back from a Thanksgiving trip where we cashed in a bunch of frequent flyer miles and took our teenaged girls to Paris and London. We relied on my husband, his smart phone and the dastardly Blue Dot to get us from place to place.

“It says it’s only a 10 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame,” he promised. “C’mon let’s walk and follow the Blue Dot.

I can’t tell you how many alleged 10-minute walks turned into 45-minute marathons, all because the Blue Dot was off by more than just a few blocks.

I honestly thought we were going to have a second French Revolution on the streets of Paris as our kids protested another Blue Dot adventure gone wrong.

“I can turn on my phone and ask for written directions,” I offered.

That went over as well as a fallen chocolate soufflé. It’s the oddest thing. My otherwise loving and reasonable husband would move the moon and stars for me, but asking him to give into written directions? I might as well have, well, asked a live human being for directions!

Somewhere out there, I’m sure there has to be a compromise, a way we can incorporate both maps and words. If you know where that is, maybe you can tell us how to get there, you know, send directions?




  • Hal

    Daryn, I use MapQuest on my iPhone. After you enter your from / to info and calculate the route, a map comes up. In the upper right corner is a drop down button (List) that toggles to step-by-step directions. The “Menu” button (lower left) gives you the option to “Start Nav” which provides voice directions. Hope this helps provide peace in the family.

    —> Hal

  • Daryn rejoice, The differences between the man’s and women’s brain is a reason for rejoicing. This condition promotes a much bigger chance that as a couple people are more able to succeed when dealing with most problem. It is a plus no a minus in our relationships. For example I take my spell checker everywhere i go. My wife doesn’t need a spell checker. She like most women are better at spelling than most men. I can stand in front of the refrigerator and not see the small packet of sliced ham. My wife walks over to the frig and immediately picks it up. I can step outside and at once point to north west,east or south. My wife hasn’t a clue. And on and on… God bless the differences

  • sherryl rae taylor

    Daryn just face it he will never change!!! For my husband (God rest him) it was always map quest . Before we went any where he always mapped quested our route be it 1 mile or a 1000.
    On our first vacation together he mapped the center point of the equator which is in some small unknown town in the mid west. I tried to tell him map quest was wrong. It was our first huge fight. map quest took us 3 hours off track. after finding it and it just being a plaque on a rock(huge disappointment) we followed my direction which showed we could of found it in a half hour.
    I learned to let him do it his way. He was a Computer Specialist and that is how his brain functioned.
    It saved many arguments.
    It seems women can very easily accept new ideas and change BUT MEN CAN’T SEEM TO DO THAT. It’s almost like pulling teeth to get them to see a new way.

  • It is always best to sit down side by side at the kitchen table and go through the map together and study all possible directions before ever going out the door on a long trip. And deciding beforehand on who would be reading the map and indicate directions should be part of the preparations when going on a trip as a couple. Two persons traveling together often have two different perceptions when being in a foreign territory, regardless of gender. Often in a couple one person is always best at doing a certain thing than the other. One may be best at reading a map and telling directions while the other is best at communicating with the locals or driving through a busy town. Therefore it should be set and agreed upon before going on a trip who is best in finding directions or reading a map. No competition or personal ego, but trust and accepting that “the other is best at it than I am”. If it is new marriage and it is the first time that the couple is going on a trip together than it is best to share the task of finding directions, do it by turn until you find out who is best at it, which is also a good way of getting to know each other’s weak and strong sides. The one who is bad at finding direction would often quickly realize it; unless the person is too proud to admit it (unfortunately it is often men who are too proud). Traveling together and finding directions should be a teamwork based on trust. After all you don’t wish to end up in a river when you’re supposed to be going over a bridge!

  • Terri Hartley

    My husband and I are just the opposite. He loves to give himself over to the GPS lady. I grew up with and love real maps. Not just the blue dot moving along on the screen, but real honest to God MAPS. Paper ones. The GPS calmly coaching me every step of the way kills my ability to form any sort of cognitive map. We just moved to Austin, TX after living my whole life in my birth city. I’m almost 50! We’ve been here since July and I still can’t really find my way around, I get one highway confused with another, I forget the frontage roads will force U-turns on you if you are in the wrong lane. Its awful. But he always just plugs in and goes. We who do not trust the technology like to do it the hard way, I guess. LOL!

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Why Can’t My Husband & I Find Direction?

by DarynKagan time to read: 2 min
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