Loud and clear: a breakdown of spousal communication

Here is something that happens to me pretty much every single day.

I’ll be in a room somewhere in the house, doing something productive since I have no time for leisure, and my wife will storm into the room and say, “I’VE BEEN CALLING YOU!”

I will, as calmly as I can muster, remind her that I am in this room and obviously did not hear her since she was in a different room. Her frustrated mannerisms seem to refute this explanation, and I am left wondering if she honestly thinks I did hear her calling me and simply thought to myself, I hear a person who sounds like my wife calling me in a time of need, but I choose not to answer. This is where I seriously lament the stereotype of dumb and lazy husbands who have selective hearing, especially considering what I am doing at that very moment is more than likely washing dishes or wiping a child’s rear end.

If I can manage to convince my wife that I did not, in fact, hear her, she changes course and takes issue with one of my senses. “THEN YOU NEED TO GET YOUR EARS CHECKED.” It’s at this point I picture myself in the doctor’s office, explaining that, although I am only 36, I likely need hearing aids because I cannot hear my wife calling me when I am downstairs with the kitchen faucet running while she is upstairs using the hair dryer. Only the doctor doesn’t hear me because he is in another room and I am still in the waiting area.

It should also be mentioned that when the smoke of communication failure clears, it is revealed that the urgent thing my wife desperately needed was to ask me to bring her up a glass of water, or: did I see that video Bridget posted to Facebook of the baby pig?

All of this is quite ironic considering one of my wife’s own communication foibles, which is this: We’ll be in a room together, and I’ll let it be known I am leaving that room—for example, she’ll be getting ready for work in our bedroom and I’ll kiss her goodbye as I leave to drop the girls off—and, after about 10 seconds, as I’m walking out the door, she’ll say something to me in a volume that would be appropriate if I were still right next to her. It goes like this:

Me: OK, love you.

Wife: Love you, too.

(we kiss)

(I walk away)

(heading toward the door)

(almost through the door)

Wife: Don’t forget the girls have a field trip today.
Every time. Every. Time. I’ve taken to turning the corner and just waiting, counting down to 10 until she says what she has to say and I can respond without backtracking, but then she will have something else to say as I walk out the door. I’m convinced she does this on purpose.

She always has the last laugh, after all. The other night I had the audacity to fall asleep in our bed at bedtime and I was jarred awake by, “I’VE BEEN CALLING YOU!” I had neglected to bring the dog upstairs before falling asleep, and when my wife realized this she called me from her bathroom sink—in one of those whisper yells, no doubt, since our daughters were sleeping: “PSSSST. MIIIIKE! MIIIIIIIIIIKE!”—to let me know he was still downstairs. I didn’t hear her because it was a whisper yell and also because I WAS SLEEPING.

But she made her point.

She always does. I hear that, babe.

Note: This column appears in the 4/23 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/24 issue of the Peoria Times.