Friday, September 6, 2013

My Muse

The year was 1990 when Deborah Tannen's book, You Just Don't Understand, found its way into my hands. I was an undergraduate psych major with more cardigans than necessary and a subscription to Psychology Today. To say that I thought I grasped the information would be an understatement. Each word was squeezed tightly enough to cram them all into the spaces in my mind. Someday I would manage all of my dealings with the opposite sex with an expertise known only to a select few who were intuitive enough to devour the knowledge like I did. The only chance the psychology community would have to further comprehend the communication between men and women resided in the book I intended to pen someday.

Instead of a book, I am offering this blog post outlining what a day in the married life of a communications major to a psychology major can look like, one incident at a time. (Bonus features showing the disintegration of my coping mechanisms included.)
  • I invited my husband to the local farm stand to gather some pickling supplies. As we got ready to leave, he asked if I wanted him to bring the empty gas tank for the grill.
"To the market? Why would I want you to bring it there?"
"Are you asking me if I want to stop somewhere to get it exchanged?"
"Yes, they have them at Walgreen's."
"But I'm not going to Walgreen's."
"I know."
"Maybe you should ask me if I mind going to Walgreen's if you want to deal with that."
"..." (Tank put in car.)

My strategy was to offer, what I believed to be, an effective lesson in better communication. This interaction on its own got me thinking about the different ways people talk. It came to my attention that I need to find Deborah's book again. As the day carried on, I became aware that there is a chance that my husband defies logic, as opposed to my being inept at comprehending how his mind (and hearing) functions.
  • I had seen a facebook post early in the afternoon that led me to think that the SU versus Penn State game was being played in Pennsylvania. A few hours later I saw another post that made me think the action was happening at the Dome here in Syracuse. My husband was watching the game, quite a bit behind, on the DVR.
"Hey, is the SU game today here in Syracuse?"
"Oh, because I saw something on facebook earlier that made me think it was away."
"So now you've possibly given away the outcome of the game?"
"What? I am talking about something I saw three hours ago when people posted a picture saying they thought they were in the minority as far as who they were routing for. Then I saw a different picture just now of somebody at the Dome. I don't know how anything I said indicated who won."
"High school games are at the Dome."
"Excuse me, what?"
"High school games are at the Dome today."
"Wait (grumble, grumble) you just told me the SU game was at the Dome."
"I wasn't paying attention to what you asked."

Maybe he was distracted by his growing concern over the diminishing supply of cereal in the pantry. With only four boxes left, he had been scurrying around looking for Kellogg's coupons to accompany the grocery store sale flier. (I tried to put a moratorium on his "stocking up" tendencies when I went to put my food processor in the back closet, only to be met with four extra bottles of laundry detergent in its spot.) There were sounds of shuffling newspaper and then the humming started. Seriously? And this apparent delight in getting ready to do some pre-hoarder style grocery grabbing brings me to our next exhibits...
  • I had informed my husband that the brand new jug of iced tea on the counter had a crack in it, and leaked when moved. I used words like "be careful" and made sure to stand at a close enough distance that I would be difficult to ignore. So as he was leaving for the store...
"Hey, since you are going to the store, would you mind returning that thing of iced tea?""Sure, no problem."
"Here, let me put it in another bag so it doesn't leak all over the place."
(He lifts it into the bag and starts to walk away with it.)
"Now I also accidentally got diet, so I don't just want another bottle."
"So you're saying there might be an exchange."
"If it does not come in a non-diet version, do not get it."
"Wait, I should show you where the crack in the bottle is so you can show them. I think they hit it with a box cutter opening the case."
"What crack?"
"What do you mean 'What crack?' The one I told you about earlier to explain why it was sitting on the counter, and not to move it, and so on."
"I didn't hear any of that."

I thought talking loudly in a polite voice at this point would somehow help me hang on to a piece of sanity without squeezing iced tea all over him. As soon as he closed the door behind him, I went to my daughter and apologized for asking her this question, but feared I was losing my mind. She looked up from what she was doing and smiled before I could even get the rest of the words out of my mouth.

"Did I say all of those things about the iced tea earlier, as in to your father?"

Also prior to the store departure, the daughter and I were discussing the frozen yogurt, hot fudge and butterscotch we had purchased. We had neglected to get whipped cream. The super shopper asked our daughter if she needed him to buy some whipped cream. She told him she did not need it, but would like it. Armed with his coupons, he was ready.
  • Later on, as we all landed in the family room for some nightly television watching, my husband piped up to ask if everyone had eaten their snack for the night yet. He was very pleased to announce that HE had bought some end of the summer treats that were in the freezer. The kids went running to find not one, not two, but THREE boxes of ice cream novelties.

"Are you kidding me?"
"You were in the conversation when we were talking about the treats we bought. Did you at least get the whipped cream?"
"So buying all of that ice cream stuff didn't trigger any sort of thought about the ice cream related thing?"
"Nope. It never crossed my mind."

This was the precise moment when any thought of coping with communication differences between men and women left me. I had no choice but to inform him that I was not going to try to talk to him any more for the rest of the day, as all previous attempts were failures. Despite my aggravation, I smiled, as I knew if I jotted some notes quickly I would have a swell blog post. My husband, my muse.


  1. But now you have left us hanging......WHO won the game??

  2. I am also a psych major married to a communications major. Maybe it is just the combination of the two, but this is what I go through everyday. I sometimes feel I am just plain crazy. But I secretly know that he is.

  3. Lordy! Sounds like being a psych major isn't much help when it comes to marriage. We seem to be suffering from some of the same issues as far as communication!

  4. If I didn't have my husband, my blog would be nil. These men ARE good for something. And did you say something about ice cream??

  5. You are a better woman than I....I finally resorted to writing "whole milk" in Sharpie, backwards, on Trip's forehead while he slept so he would see it and hopefully remember while looking at his forgetful mug in the mirror the next morning.

  6. Oh my word I don't know how patient I would have been in your place. You're awesome. :-D

  7. I remember Tannen's book. It was very eye-opening. I also remember reading John Gray's Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus. That book was huge for me. It's OK to realize men and woman are different. All this fight from women to be the SAME as men, when I think there's beauty and purpose in our differences.

  8. I have a master's degree in psychology and my husband is a speech therapist. It's like you know me already. Seriously, this could have been us!