Marriage is like Shifting Gears…Together

I never learned to drive a stick shift but my husband sure can. He used to pick me up for school in his white 1965 GTO.  We were high school sweethearts, and I loved watching him drive that car. He knew the exact second to push the clutch and shift gears.

Last week, we were headed to the YMCA in his old truck. While he drove, I watched him shift gears, still fascinated. “Will you show me how again?” He’d tried to teach me when we were teenagers.

I put my hand on his.

“Okay, listen for the engine to whine. Hear it? Now go to second.”

“I forgot. Where’s second?”

“Remember the H?” He took his hand off the shifter. “You can do it.”

“Ahh! No I can’t. I don’t know which–”

“Sure you can.” He grinned at me.

He thinks I can. Maybe I can.

My heart kicked into high gear when I found second. “I did it!” And then I shifted into neutral by mistake.

“No big deal.” He put his hand on mine and slipped it into third. “You got it.”

“Thank you,” I said staring at his right hand, remembering.

 My husband knows cars, but he knows me even better.

“You’re too quiet,” he said. “What are you thinking?”

“Just…well, just that I’m grateful.”

“For what?”

Filled with emotion, I didn’t dare look at him. “You’ve turned a lot of wrenches so I can write. Thank you.”

He nodded.

I’ve almost finished the novel I’ve been writing. “You never doubted I could do it, did you?”

“Of course not.”

I squeezed his hand one, two, three times.

He squeezed back four times. I love you too.





  1. Anna Haney says:

    Dear Julie, tears again. My husband drove an hour after work to be with me last night at the funeral of my former boss. I know he really didn’t want to go–he’d only met her once, at our wedding two years ago, but he came.
    My former boss, Dr. Judy Walters, was an amazing woman. She had been in the army, had already battled breast cancer once, and had been an education administrator and teacher. But once she learned she was terminal, she went on the mission field. Members of her Sunday School class spoke. Judy regretted that she did not get to go on as many missions as she wanted to, yet they had to convince her that she was in a mission field. She ministered to them more than they ministered to her.
    So this week, MAKE THE TIME to tell people how much they mean to you.
    You are a blessing to me

    • Anna, I always love reading your precious comments. Two things stand out to me–your kind husband being there for you and Judy’s family, and the powerful story of Judy’s life and death. May we all make the time TODAY to express our love to each other.

      Love you, my friend. And thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. Oh Julie…this is what marriage is all person gives…the other overflows with gratefulness…and in turn gives back…you have a beautiful relationship with Ricky that is so full of grace and love.
    Keep sharing …xo

  3. Lynne Gentry says:

    This story is so full of love that it gives me chills. Beautiful.

    • Thanks, Lynne. Just felt so much looking at his right hand–so much it was hard to express my gratitude. Love you, my friend.

  4. Georgia says:

    What a lovely story. You are a blessed woman and Rick is a blessed man. 🙂 Please tell us when that novel is finished!! I will be among the first in line to buy it. 🙂

    • You got it, Georgia!!! Believe me. When this novel gets published– (and I say “when” in great faith :-))I’ll be shouting and praising up a storm! Thank you!!

  5. Wow…three squeezes…four squeezes…hand over hand…shifting through the gears of life together. Man, what a powerful post. What a powerful marriage. What a powerful statement, “You’ve turned a lot of wrenches so I can write. Thank you.” Another gut-wrenching winner, Julie.

    • AWww, B.J. Where would I be without your encouragement??!!! Thank you, and THANK YOU for the phone call today. Love your play on words too…gut-wrenching.

  6. My hubby isn’t naturally demonstrative. He wasn’t raised like that, so it isn’t natural. But when he takes time out to stop and tell me how much he appreciates me and loves me, it’s momentous! Those are the special gear-shifting moments.

    And, BTW, I learned to drive a stick when I was 16, and I learned it alone! I had a friend over, and my brother was supposed to drive her home. He was busy, so he tossed me his keys, and told me to take her. Being the proud new owner of a driver’s license, I jumped at the chance!

    He had an old English Ford, which had a long gearshift stick, so it wasn’t easy, but after bouncing it only twice, I took off! I was pretty chuffed with myself. ;o)

    • Ane, somehow I’m not one bit surprised that you learned to drive a stick alone. You are fearless!! And of course you jumped at the chance to drive–it didn’t at all that you had no clue how to shift gears. Ahhhhhhhh! I’m pretty chuffed with youself too! “Chuffed??” Tell me what it means next time I see you.

  7. Arie Strobel says:

    Thank you Anna H for that beautiful testament of your former boss. And, Julie, thank you, too. That was beautiful. (Cute how you ride barefoot in his truck…you are like a little high school girl.)

    • Thanks, Arie. Yeah, you know our hot Georgia weather. Any excuse to go barefooted!

      I know–Anna wrote such beautiful words.

      Hugs to you!!!

  8. What a beautiful post and analogy, Julie!

  9. Awww, Julie, I’m tearing up just like I do every time I read your posts. Lovely.

    I learned to drive a stick when I was 11. My dad took me in his truck out into an open pasture, showed me the basics with the clutch, the gears, etc. Then he hopped out and told me to practice until I could shift smooth. He walked back to the house. That day he taught me I could do anything if I tried. Thanks for jarring that memory loose for me.

    • Carla, you tear up because you’re a heart writer too!

      ELEVEN YEARS OLD! And what a life lesson!!! You gotta write this one, my friend. So good!! And then I’m heading your way and you can teach me to drive a stick.

  10. Joe and I will be married 45 years in Nov. I remember him LITERALLY holding me up at my Mother’s bedside as she died. Then it was my turn when HIS Mom died. XO, Pinky

  11. Oh, Pinky…hands show so much love, don’t they. And aren’t we blessed that young married love becomes mature love. I have the sweetest picture in my mind of how you and Joe were there (ARE THERE) for each other.

    Thank you. Such a gift to share your most precious words with others.

  12. Brenda Greene says:

    Another sweet post, Julie. What a special couple you two are and obviously you are well aware of how blessed you are, and have been! God is good, eh?! Shifting gears…yep that’s a great analogy for marriages that weather the storms of married life!

    Reminded me of an “ah ha” moment in our marriage. Hubby started working hard labor at 18 for a local manufacturing plant, we married two years later. His job was to remove 54 pound boxes from a conveyor belt and place them on wooden pallets (five boxes high) for shipping. During the time our daughters were young and involved in church-league softball, band drill team, and cheerleading, he worked the day shift (even tho he hated those hours) for seven years straight so he could be home to attend their many activities. One night after our girls were in college, he had gone to bed early and I was sitting on the sofa enjoying the quiet. (Truth be known, I was probably in the middle of a “pity party”!!) I spotted his old, hot, smelly work boots sitting by his chair and teared up realizing how many long, hard hours he worked in those boots to support “his girls”. Just lost it, picked them up and hugged them for the longest…smelly and all!

    Thanks once more, for bringing that memory forward to help me remember how blessed I have been these past 45 years. He retired seven years ago after 40 years with a very crumpled body: seven vertebrae fused together in his back; COPD (from breathing the dust for 40 years); chronic kidney disease (from hypertension) and an old bruise to his brain (bat to the head at a backyard baseball game as a kid) that has affected his short-term memory and will only get worse as he ages according to the doctor.

    Even though the future doesn’t look nearly as appealing as the past, each day is a blessing. This memory and others help me create a peaceful and gentle environment for us to grow old gracefully. Don’t you just love how God gently reminds us of how loved we are?!!

    Thank you Sweet Friend for helping me remember to keep on keeping on…and why!

    • Brenda, Brenda, your precious comment made me tear up this morning! Bless your sweet husband. That’s the kind of love I’m talking about. Selfless. Quiet. Faithful.

      You and I are blessed, my friend.

      And I’m blessed by your encouraging words. Thank you. Thank you.
      And another thing–I didn’t learn this sort of stuff early in marriage. Whew. Some truths only come through a lotta years, don’t they? 🙂

  13. AWESOME! How true we all have something to teach others and the respect we have for those who possess different skills than we do. What a wonderful relationship you two have. Thanks for sharing it with us!!

  14. You’re so welcome, Tom. And thanks for reading!

  15. Ray Navarro says:

    Julie, when I read the last part about you squeezing his hand and he, yours, my eyes grew wide with surprise. My wife and I do this all the time (except we just do it three times). When we’re close enough (car, bed, sitting down, etc.) we’ll do this to affirm one another.
    By the way, I’m glad I wasn’t the only guy to respond….thanks Tom!! LOL

  16. Thanks, Ray. 🙂 Glad you could identify. Appreciate your comment.

    Blessings to you and yours.


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.