If You Want To Immediately Improve Your Relationship, Hit The Road — Literally

Photo: S. Greg Panosian | Getty Images Signature / virin000 | pixabay / Monkey Business Images | canva
Happy couple in car

Taking a road trip with your significant other? Chances are good that the time together will improve your relationship. 

In fact, 91 percent of couples have taken road trips together, and 84 percent of them agree that the experience strengthened their relationship, according to a survey of more than 1,000 people released by YourTango collaborating with Ford Motor Company.

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Of course, coupled driving time is not all sunshine and roses.

For instance, plenty of couples (63 percent) have a "back-seat driver" on board who "helps" the real driver negotiate the road, offering him or her the following advice:

  • Thirty-two percent tell the driver they're driving too fast.
  • Twenty-seven percent tell them they're going the wrong way.
  • Twenty-two percent tell them they're not paying enough attention to their surroundings/traffic.
  • Fifteen percent chide them for driving too slowly.
  • Nine percent tell them they're not using signals properly/sufficiently.
  • Seven percent chided them for honking/usual foul language/gestures towards other drivers.

After guiding the driver, the second most popular back-seat driving technique involves physical actions like holding the dashboard (as if bracing for a crash) or pressing an invisible brake. In third place comes gasping and making other sounds of fright.

Despite the back-seat driving tendencies of couples, the survey revealed that togetherness on the road presents an opportunity for quality time among couples in all sorts of ways.

Sixty-three percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that they're affectionate with their partner while driving; they hold hands or share a kiss at a red light. Fifty-seven percent say driving is a good time to discuss important topics with their spouse or partner.

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In fact, we asked respondents to choose their three favorite ways to pass with their loved one on the road. The top activities are:

  • Talking and catching up with each other (63 percent).
  • Blasting our favorite music (60 percent).
  • Getting some quiet time and taking in the sights (37 percent).
  • Napping while my spouse/partner drives or vice versa (22 percent).
  • Independently reading, playing on phone/tablet, checking e-mail, etc. as the passenger while my spouse/partner drives or vice versa (17 percent).
  • Listening together to a book, comedy, news, sports, etc. (15 percent).
  • Playing car games (7 percent).
  • Catching up with friends & family via phone (6 percent).

"We were excited to learn Ford is eager to provide couples a space to communicate and enjoy quality time together on the road — such an insightful, worthwhile objective," says YourTango CEO Andrea Miller. "With so many couples struggling with stress and looking for ways to stay connected, we can now offer a new, easy answer: Try going on a road trip!"

The responses to the survey were gratifying to Ford, as well.

"Ford has always believed that getting there is more than half the fun; that's why we're so excited about the new Fusion," said Samantha Hoyt, a former Ford Fusion Marketing manager. "With its sleek styling, comfortable interior, and customer-centered technology, it's all about taking those good times on the road."

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Comfort is definitely a factor, agree YourTango respondents.

Seventy-three percent say a car's interior affects their level of comfort on the road; 42 percent say the noises their car makes affect their driving experience; and 77 percent say an upgrade to the features of their vehicle would improve their togetherness in the car.

Additional survey findings include:

  • Fifty-six percent say the best driving conversations focus on the present — sights, news, and other drivers, followed by 19 percent who say the best discussions involve the future: marriage, kids, home buying, etc., and 11 percent who say the best car conversations focus on reminiscing about the past. The least popular discussions focused on culture (art, books, music, movies, etc.) and philosophies (beliefs, philosophy, fears, values, etc.).
  • Thirty-five percent of couples surveyed have been on eight or more road trips together; 56 percent have been on 1-7 and just nine percent have not yet taken a couples road trip.
  • Sixty-eight percent describe their road trips as "fun-filled" or "relaxing"; 16 percent describe them as adventurous/exciting; just about a fifth of respondents say their road trips are "boring" or "tension-filled"
  • Despite the long-standing belief that couples argue about directions, it seems GPS navigation systems have not improved all couples' driving relationships, with 34 percent reporting the addition of GPS has improved their in-car connection, 32 percent saying "somewhat" and another 34 percent answering "no."

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