God gave us two ears, but I can guess how many times they are really used. The art of listening, well, is a talent. Do we truly listen to each other or are we too invested in what we are trying to say? I will be honest and share that I am working on this issue daily. We all want to be heard – fully and completely.
Interestingly enough, the one person that is a struggle to hear is a spouse. After being together over 26 years, I can get overly frustrated when Brian has no clue what I have been trying to say. It makes me crazy especially if I have said the same thing over and over. When we sought counseling many years ago, the therapist suggested that when I spoke to Brian, I began my sentences with, “Is this a good time for me to talk to you? Are you able to give me your full attention?”. So, if you know me, you probably know that I was not really on board with that suggestion. In fact, if I did use the technique, it was probably dripping in sarcasm. Why can’t he just listen when I speak? Sounded like a lot of work and surprise, I didn’t not adopt that tool.
Fast forward to yesterday when he went to Costco for our bi-weekly shopping excursion. I had put sweet potatoes on the list but the more we discussed it, I thought macaroni and cheese would be a better side with the ham for our Christmas day dinner. I also asked him to check and see if they had a lasagna that I could bake for Christmas eve. It is not uncommon for my spouse to call me asking if I need anything else, but this time he calls to say he found the sweet potatoes.
“We aren’t doing sweet potatoes with the ham.”
“But, it is on the list.”
“I forgot to cross it off. Remember, we had this conversation.”
“I found a lasagna. How many are we having for Christmas Eve?”
“Okay, this serves 12.”
I don’t remember the rest of the conversation because I was annoyed and wasn’t listening. At some point, I hung up on him.
When he got home, he told me that he found a macaroni and cheese, which I was thrilled because that meant Kroger wouldn’t be on our radar. He showed it to me and it looked good, so I asked if he got two. The blank look on his face told me that he didn’t. He thought I was serving it with the lasagna. Really? Odd combination for sure. Kroger was now on his radar.
Listening is an art. We all strive to be heard. Women are naturally better listeners, but I have not perfected the skill. I still have some work to do. I feel like every conversation that I have with him should be recorded for quality assurance purposes. Maybe that would be a better tool than the “Brian, can you give me your full attention” bullshit. Work in progress, friends.