♫ Do You Hear What I Hear? ♫

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Yes the holidays are over; and no this isn’t an attempt to relive them. For better or worse (only a slight reference to wedding vows), this web site is dedicated to supporting the institute of marriage. There are probably hundreds of theories on why marriages succeed or fail. However, to one extent or another, I believe at some level, most stem from problems with communication. There are various theories on how communication occurs. Most involve a sender, a message, a receiver, and often feedback. It sounds simple until you realize that interpretation is involved. All too often, what the sender intended to communicate is misinterpreted by the receiver. Then there are compounding factors like the honesty, motives behind the message, the emotional state of each party, frames of reference, and expectations. There is also a notable difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is the physiological response to sound. Listening involves processing the sounds into thoughts.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of books dedicated to the subject of communication. To narrow the focus a little, we will confine our discussion to men and women within the confines of marriage. My first communication problems with Crystal actually began before our marriage. The summer before my last semester at Bradley University I was at school; and prior to her senior year, Crystal had a summer job in Chicago. There were one hundred and fifty miles between us. Somehow it seemed like a lot more. I had a great summer; Crystal, not so much. I was seeing old friends, partying, working and going to school. Crystal was back home and having a rough time of things. Somehow every time I would talk to her I would say something wrong. When I wrote to her, it would be even worse. It was like we were two different species. I didn’t understand her and she didn’t understand me. The reality was that this was the beginning of a long discovery process about our differences.

Men and women, while not different species, are different. One thing I learned while studying nursing is that anatomy (structure) determines physiology (function). Our brains are not the same; our chemistries are not the same. To expect us to respond exactly the same is not realistic. These differences can either add to our marriage or drive it into the rocks. The better we understand these differences, the better we can make them strength.

When my three daughters call us, they will generally ask to talk to one of us. When they ask for mom, they need to dish. In other words, women need to talk in order to thoroughly process their thoughts. That is one reason women, on the average, speak so many more words each day than men. When my daughters ask to speak to me, they generally ask a very focused question about a specific subject. Should I take that job or what is wrong with my car? They know that, as a man, I am very task and results oriented. If they try to process thoughts with me, I will cut them off with solutions and suggestions (although I have gotten better over the years). Therein lies the problem.

I can assure you that at some point, every wife has thought that her husband and she were in total agreement. She was then shocked when he denied having the discussion? On the other hand, at some point, every husband has the experience of his wife insisting that he agreed to something that he had no clue about? Well the mysterious truth is that they were both right (refer to hearing vs. listening above). As I have said, on numerous occasions while writing these posts, I am no expert. If you want an expert, ask Dr. Phil. I just know what I have observed. When Crystal and I sit in our living room and watch TV, we talk. Actually, Crystal talks and I listen and occasionally chirp in. Sometime later, we have a discussion about what was said, and how I agreed to, disagreed with, or was informed of something. I earnestly have no recollection of said discussion. The problem occurs when Crystal starts using me to process her thoughts and then segues into an action oriented item. At some point, her ability to speak exceeds my ability to actively listen. While I may have made a gesture or grunt of acknowledgment, it should in no way be later used against me.

In addition man vs. women differences we have differences as individuals. In my case, as a kid I suffered with ADD. While I have learned to control it, I never totally got over it. For example, on the rare occasions that I actually join Crystal in watching Dr Phil, he will say something like “It’s not like I just fell off the turnip truck”. To the average watcher, I’m sure the implications are obvious. To me, however, I begin analyzing the statement. Does he mean that he isn’t a turnip (assuming turnips are stupid)? Is this a slur on migrant workers? Is he saying that if someone fell off a turnip truck they might land on their head and become disoriented? Why did he pick a turnip truck and not a garbage truck or a potato truck? At any rate, by the time I return to the show, generally two guests are yelling at each other for some dumb reason.

So what is the answer? If I were a wife, when I needed my husband’s attention for a decision, I would grab each of his ears with my hands and stare straight into his eyes while engaging in an important discussion. However, as a man, I would really object to being treated in such a manner. So the bottom line (a man term) is, I have no answer to resolve a problem which has existed throughout history. My hope is that, simply being aware of the difference will help. It should! It’s not like you just fell off the peanut wagon!

Crystal’s Corner

Doesn’t Ron talk like a scientist?  I am not a scientist.  I tried to do experiments in my high school lab and ended up with the table on fire.  While Ron makes some good points I have a slightly different take on our specific situation.  When I talk about sports, his Dad, the car, dinner or something that he is interested in, then he hears me.  Well, not always when I talk about plans with his Dad.  But if I am talking about the girls and their problems, my problems, a movie I want to see or a book I want to read, then he doesn’t hear me.  Even when I get his attention and he looks straight at me, he still won’t remember later.  There are times when I have written him letters in order to get a point across.  That does actually work.

It is also a problem to me when he is watching TV or just tired and I have something I am excited to tell him, that he tells me to talk to him later. In the first place, I am excited now.  In the second place, I will forget about it later. We have progressed somewhat in our lines of communication. But just today we had an argument (or loud discussion) about two laundry baskets.  The baskets were both in the big bathroom.  One of the baskets had the clothes I wash by hand in it and the other one had the clothes that either he or I will wash by machine.  He had put the wrong basket in the hallway on its way to the laundry.   When I saw it, I told him, “you have the wrong basket.”

He said, “No, I don’t”.

I said, “Yes, you do.”

This went on for awhile until I showed him the other basket that had the machine washable clothing in it.  I am glad I caught it or my sweaters would shrink when he washed them.

Most of the time, we communicate pretty well, but like most couples, we have our moments.  I would recommend the book, Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars, but I wouldn’t try to discuss it with your husband while he is watching TV.  Maybe they only have TV on Mars. Anyway, happy communicating, and Happy New Year 2016.

1st winter 2015 0371st winter 2015 073

There’s my wifipoohe and a calf (wife on right), along with a great fall picture of dad by the Scioto River.


One comment on “♫ Do You Hear What I Hear? ♫

  1. Funny but so true

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