Little Spouse On The Prairie: A Man, A Plan And A Midlife Crisis Van

Feb 24, 2018

Other men swear they will never drive a minivan.  Other men, as they add children to their lives, progress from a tough, extended-cab truck on to a four-wheel-drive SUV before succumbing to the humiliation of the dreaded van.   Other men, especially out here on the plains, where men are men and trucks are trucks, sure as hell don’t need some foreign-made vehicle parked in the garage.  Not my Joel.  Joel has harbored an unfulfilled longing for a minivan since he was in his early twenties. 

I’m a practical person, at least when it comes to vehicles.   Still, I was hesitant, but game to look into a van, when, at the ripe old age of 40, I discovered I was pregnant with my third child.  I had been reluctant to consider buying a van prior to this because, like many people that imagine that others care what they drive, I thought getting one would signal the end of my stylish and carefree youth.

About the same time we learned of my “geriatric pregnancy” (yes, that is really what they call them), I discovered Joel’s shocking secret obsession.  My loving husband, my sweet Joel, had a stash of van magazines and fliers hidden in the garage; right there, in a box where the kids could have stumbled upon them at any time.  Once confronted, he even admitted that he had gone to TWO van dealerships within the last month and had even TEST-DRIVEN a van.  After I got over my initial shock, I decided the best course of action was to talk things through. 

After the kids went to bed one night, we got out the box of fliers and went through them together, hoping we could salvage some sort of marital harmony regarding our next vehicle purchase.  I was able to forgive Joel for test-driving a van without me.  It was awkward at first, but strong relationships require people to put aside their deeply held inhibitions.

It was then that Joel was able to open his heart to me and express how he had always been ashamed of his hidden desire to buy a van.  Once he discovered that I was willing, and actually kind of wanted to try this, his reservations fell away.  We spent the rest of the night imagining our van in every color and make possible, and it was one of our most meaningful and special nights together. 

Not long after, we traveled to a nearby town that had quite a selection of used vans and made a purchase.  The car salespeople were progressive thinkers, and showed no sign of judgment whatsoever about our choice to expand our vehicle preferences into the minivan area.  In fact, several of them owned vans themselves and had some recommendations.  We found out that there is a whole segment of the population that openly embraces more capacious vehicles, and would never go back to sedans.

Despite that our van was ten years old and had nearly 100,000 miles on it, Joel was giddy.  He turned his country music station way up, rolled down the windows, and drove up and down Main Street several times that evening, even past dark, so he could try out the lights. I was gratified to know that I was a part of Joel’s midlife fantasy and that I was open-minded and daring enough to try something that I had previously thought wasn’t for me. 

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