Saturday, April 3, 2010

The what with the what, now...?

One thing 25 years of marriage has taught me is that couples need to continually work on their communication. This is an ongoing (may I add occasionally agonizing) process.

One thing my wife has not learned yet, thought, is that if I am doing ANYTHING else than listening to what she is saying, like working on the computer or watching TV or writing or walking and chewing gum, I cannot understand what she just said. This is because men generally are not good multi-taskers. It’s a male thing – it’s in our genetic makeup. Women genetically are much more adept at multi-tasking; they can bounce a kid, do the laundry and write a thesis all at one time. Men; not so much… we need to focus on one thing at a time.

The ramification of this defect is that most of what my wife tells me is relegated to a kind of a feminine white noise in the background of my experience. Often I don't quite understand what my wife has just said and so ask her to repeat it. More often, however, she already knows I didn't comprehend and repeats it to me anyway. I usually act like I heard her right the first time. But usually I didn't.

One night we had checked into a motel and were in bed beginning to doze off. A car pulled into the parking lot and the beam from its HEADLIGHTS flashed momentarily across the wall. So in my dreamy stupor state she says "Oh my, what are those… head lights"?

In mortal terror I fly of bed, yelling for her to turn on the lights and get the hell out of the bed.

Wife: “What on earth is wrong with you!!??”

Me: "I thought you said Head Lice".

21 comments:

Kay Dennison said...

LOL

GutsyWriter said...

Why are all husbands the same? I have to keep asking my husband, "Are you listening to me?" when he's reading his novel as I speak. SO RUDE! Sometimes I wonder if that's just American husbands or husbands around the world.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Gusty Oh I am reasonably confident that that this distraction is in endemic to the male gender world wide. And... what was the other thing you said now?

Gorilla Bananas said...

An easy mistake to make...even if you were wide awake. My intuition and arithmetic tells me this must be your second marriage.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Bananas Your mental acutiy and mathematical calculations serve you well, sir, I am indeed in my second marriage. Now, you can go for "double or nothing" if you can correctly deduce my height.

secret agent woman said...

I'm not sure you can pin that on your gender. I have known both men and women who don't pay attention when other people are talking to them. If I'm absorbed in something else, I don't catch what someone else is saying, because they are interrupting me.

GutsyWriter said...

So happy to hear you're reading and listening to our comments. This just gave me an idea. You shall see.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Secret Agent True, there are exceptions to stereotypes. Men generally are taller then women, though you can find extremely tall women. Research on the differences between male and female brains display general differences... I would go on but I am not sure you are listening. *grins*

Gutsy Ok, you clearly have MY attention... and curiosity as well.

Charlie said...

It's about even-steven in our relationship: neither one of us hears what the other is saying.

So how do we communicate? In the time-honored tradition of grunts, snorts, facial expressions, and hand signals.

Martha's most-used hand signal involves the lifting of the middle finger only.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Charlie Nancy doesn't use hand gestures in her non-verbal communication. Instead I get "the Look"... and it's implication is more than clear.

Saint Dolores said...

What about when she first says, "Attention please, check, check..." before you talks. Does that help?

(glad I found your blog...like it lots.)

Robert the Skeptic said...

Dolores Actually interesting that you should bring that up... when Nancy really wants to tell me something and lock it in my brain, she says: "Look at me, look at me..." before imparting the critical information. Seems to work.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Great post. My husband and I go through this constantly-in fact, it has gotten worse after 30 years now and since we are empty nesters. I tell him something, he acts as though he heard it. But there is a difference, I have learned between hearing and listening.

Robert the Skeptic said...

alwaysinthebackrow Empty nesters here as well... add to that my wife kind of does a "running narration" of everything she is doing. So then when she has something "important" to say, it gets lost in the background. Yelling... now THAT gets my (and most males) attention.

secret agent woman said...

Yeah? Show me the data. :)

Robert the Skeptic said...

Secret Agent Here ya go:

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/node/8685

True or False: Women are better at multitasking, while men are better when concentrating on a single task from beginning to completion. True. Ruben Gur, PhD, and Raquel Gur, MD, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, measured blood flow and activity in men's and women's brains, and they found repeatedly that women use more parts of their brains when given a wide variety of verbal and spatial tasks. They believe that this may contribute to women's ability to focus on a number of different things at one time.

And another:
http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/815.php

And...
http://www.marketingvox.com/female-media-multitaskers-outpace-males-disparity-increases-over-time-042804/

Robert's footnote Of course, anyone can Google links that support all kinds of claims... UFO's, BigFoot, etc. Though the second one is directly linked to an actual study.

Additionally, there are lots of experiments done in the UK on gender differences between men's and women's brains. Maybe the subject needs a blog devoted to the concept. (except I a busy doing something else at the moment, so forgive me).

secret agent woman said...

I can buy that women's brains (on average) might be more suited to multitasking, but I still think it in no way accounts for people not paying attention. There's some habit/choice/priority-setting going on there.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Secret Agent I think that "multi-tasking" means literally the ability to do things simultaneously. In my personal case, I find that if someone is talking to me and the TV is on (or even if I am reading) I have to stop doing one thing to be able to do the other. I think the ability to pay attention is rooted in the different ways genders (and individuals) process information coming into their senses. There is a lot of research now about "distracted" drivers and auto accidents; talking on cell phones while driving. I'm guessing that you probably are highly skilled at multi-tasking. I, on the other hand, honestly have to stop whatever it is I am doing to comprehend what people are telling me.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Footnote I just lifted the following link from a commenter on Gutsy Writer's blog - it links to an article about a study showing that men use only one side of the brain when listening whereas women use both halves. Interesting.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=119766&page=1

GutsyWriter said...

I just read that article and found it very interesting myself.

Robert the Skeptic said...

William Thanks for standing up... THAT I respect.

Unfortunately "less government" has been a disaster. Back when I worked for the banking system we weren't allowed to make the type of risky investments that were allowed under the Bush administration's deregulation. Unfettered and under regulated speculation brought the country to the brink of financial disaster.

Less government means millions of uninsured citizens. Less government means unchecked financial and consumer protection watchdogs. If people could be trusted to play nicely, less government would be great... but that isn't the way life works, is it. What would you eliminate, FEMA, EPA, Health and Human Services, FDA, FCC, FAA? It's all academic, but what specifically does "less government" mean, William?

But your Tea Bag rebellion isn't really about less government is it! Your protesters painting a Hitler mustache President Obama. Pretty "low life", William.

I think your movement is simply a dance you do when corporations play the tune. Even Sarah Palin (thanks for the spell checker) QUIT her post when she learned she could make more MONEY on the Tea Bag circuit. Is this the person you hitch your wagon to?

Bring it on. - Robert Neary