What being One-Car family has taught me about marriage

We’ve been a one car family for almost 4 years. It works for us because my husband’s work is literally a block away from our house. Our kids’ school is also less than a block away so my 3rd grade boys walk to school every day too.

It’s great that we live so close to work and school—I love it. I have the car during the day to run errands or take my younger kids to the park or appointments.

My husband comes home for lunch every day and even runs up the street when I am struggling with one of the kids. It’s amazing to have his support so close by.

Most of the time, being a one-car family is easy, convenient, and saves us money. But sometimes, it’s challenging and difficult, and it requires a lot of creativity and communication to make it work.

Kind of like marriage.

Here are 4 things being a one-car family has taught me about having a healthy marriage:
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1. Be flexible
My husband had jury duty this morning. I had play group plans later in the day so I drove him (with the 4 kids) to the courthouse at 8am. I expected to pick him up at 4:30pm but he called me at 10:25 and said he had been cut from the jury: “Can you come pick me up?”

The play group started at 10:30 and I was planning on meeting a friend but being a one-car family means that I have to be flexible. So I drove downtown, took him home and got to the play ground at 11am.

My marriage takeaway: Marriage requires flexibility, bending towards the other person when needed, and holding your plans lightly at times.

2. Be willing to sacrifice
In addition to his full-time job, my husband is a soccer referee and he often needs the car on the weekends. On these days, I’m at home with the kids by myself without a car.

I’m not going to lie: it’s tough to be housebound with all four kids by myself. Even if I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, it’s nice to have the option, you know?
Other times, it is my husband making the sacrifice. When I have Saturday plans, he makes the choice to not go hunting or he says “no” to soccer matches to referee because he knows that I need the car.

We’ve debated getting a 2nd car on many occasion but we haven’t taken the step because we don’t want to have two car payments right now. So, we’re making sacrifices for each other right now.

My marriage takeaway: In order to reach your goals (family, financial, career), sometimes you have to make sacrifices to support your spouse.

3. Be willing to invest in what is important to your spouse
In the past 4 years, we’ve learned to be really creative about how to make our car situation work for us. Sometimes, though, our schedules simply cannot mesh. I remember one weekend where Aaron had a softball tournament and I had a conference on the same day.

The softball tournament was an annual event: We had been doing it every summer for 8+ years. I usually spent all day cheering from the sidelines, but this year, Aaron knew that going to this conference was really important to me. So he rented a car for the day so that we could both do what we wanted to do.

It was $40 well spent and it saved us the stress and tension that could have occurred if we had insisted on flexibility or sacrifice in this situation.

My marriage takeaway: Flexibility or sacrifice is not always the answer. Sometimes, you have to just dive in and invest in what will make life easier for both you and your spouse. Do what brings peace and ease into your life, even if it costs extra.

4. What works for you may not work for others
Sometimes I’m surprised that being a one-car family works for us. Sure, it’s tough sometimes, and we don’t always get to do the things we each want to do because we have to share the car, but most days, we make it work.

That doesn’t mean that being a one-car family is for everyone, though. In fact, in about six months it’s not even going to work for us anymore. We will be moving and buying a second car is top on the priority list.

My marriage takeaway: Do what works for you in YOUR marriage. Just because it (fill in the blank) works for other couples doesn’t mean it will work for you, and vice versa. Also, be willing to make a change in your marriage when your life situation changes too.

Being a one-car family has been a unique situation for our family these last four years. Most days I like it, some days I hate it, but I try always to be thankful.

As in most things, whether it is being a one-car family or in marriage, it all comes down to attitude, perspective, and making the best of the situation that you are in.