Sometimes I hear from wives who complain that their husbands don’t listen enough. I have the opposite problem. My husband listens too well.
Inklings of this problem began to surface while we were still unmarried but just friends. I’d be talking about some random event or another, and he’d interrupt with, “But you already told me you had an appointment for that night, right?”
I’d look at him with some surprise, saying, “Oh yes, that’s right! But I don’t remember telling you about that…”
“Yes, you told me the other day when we were studying in the library.” (Or something like that.)
Now this, you might think, could be somewhat flattering. But I’m the type of person who often doesn’t remember what I just said to whom, so it’s a little scary at times. Just what have I said to him? I can’t remember, but he does!
Also, he expects me to remember conversations down to the detail that he does. Say I’ll be typing on the computer one evening, and he’ll say something like, “I know the perfect Christmas present for my sister!”
“Uh huh … that’s nice …” I say, typing busily.
“I’ll give her the Xbox controller that we got but can’t use since we don’t have an Xbox.”
“And then I’ll roast the Xbox and toast it over an open fire!”
“You’re not listening to me, are you?”
I think part of it is because he grew up in an oral culture where everything, especially knowledge and wisdom from one’s elders, was passed down through speech.
On the other hand, I grew up reading and writing (albeit not always very well) since I was 3. I have always loved reading books. If I want to remember anything, I’ll write it down.
Speech? Not so much. You could recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg address to me, and had I not heard (and read) it millions of times before, I might summarize it this way: “He was talking about … no, wait … some kind of war?”
As you can imagine, this leads to some lively discussions in our household. More often than not he’ll say, “You’re not listening to me!”
And unfortunately, it’s often true. I think I’m listening, but I’m really multitasking … at which point, I often forget what I was doing in the first place.
So my Thanksgiving resolution this year is to sit down more often and actually listen (ie., pay attention) to what my husband is saying. 🙂