Keris Stainton‘s weekly column on married life…
Me: So we’ll get dressed, have some breakfast, go to the park and see the animals and then go and get some lunch … what do you think of that plan?
David: What plan?
I know it’s a bit of a cliche that men don’t listen, but they really don’t. How many times have I started to tell David something and then noticed that his eyes are still surreptitiously moving over the newspaper (sports section) he’s been reading.
“I’m talking to you! Put the paper down!” is met with a deep Kevin-the-teenager-style sigh. Is it too much to ask that your husband listen to you when you talk? Perhaps, after 12 years together – or if you talk as much as me – it is.
How many times have I told him something he then professes to have known nothing about? “You did not tell me that!” “I did. Maybe if you stopped reading the paper and listened t me when I talk, you’d remember.”
This goes both ways of course (painful as it for me to admit). David often imparts a piece of information with “I’ve told you this already, but you probably don’t remember” since he often chooses to tell me stuff while I’m engrossed in a book or watching, say, Dancing With the Stars (because he thinks it’s the most ridiculous programme ever, he feels he can talk through it and expect me to listen!).
It’s kind of basic, isn’t it? Listening to each other, I mean. It’s not difficult, you’d think we could manage it, but numerous sitcoms over the years have proved that we can’t. How many arguments could be avoided if we just took notice of what the other was saying. “You’re out on Friday night? You didn’t tell me!” “I did! You were watching Doctor Who!”
I’ve read somewhere recently that men are better at listening when they don’t have to look at you (I don’t know why – perhaps looking and listening at once is too much multitasking for them). If you want to have a serious conversation you should do it while you’re both looking straight ahead – maybe out for a walk or a drive. Or maybe don’t bother speaking to them at all…
Me: There was an interesting thing in this book…
David: Oh god.
Me: Well excuse me for trying to start a conversation!
David: I didn’t mean to say that out loud.