What if the one person I should be listening to is my wife, Stacy, and I don't?
If you know me, you know I like to talk. I am not the best listener in the world.
There are times I do it really well. There are times that as someone is talking, I am thinking about what I will say when they stop. There are times I start out listening and then get distracted by my surroundings.
I know. I have a lot of work to do.
Scene 1: The Car
Stacy and I could not decide where to eat. The painful and inevitable "I don't care, you decide" conversation. I thought about taking her to Burger King because there "she could have it her way." I thought about Waffle House. That was too fancy. However, we finally landed at a restaurant like Chili's or Applebee's.
Scene 2: The Restaurant
We were immediately seated.
Soon after sitting down, my wife grabbed my hands. I was raising an eyebrow at her behavior. Was she putting the moves on me in a restaurant? That is cool. I put my hands on the table and she started rubbing them. Interesting. She then said, "You have beautiful hands." Weird. You don't tell a dude his hands are beautiful.
I then noticed something different. Stacy wanted to say something. My wife is a pretty quiet gal. One of those when she speaks, you listen kind of people. So, I thought here is my chance to prove I can listen well. Boy was I wrong!
She started pouring out her heart when all of a sudden I got distracted by an older lady with some seriously blue hair. I wondered who her stylist was and if they were colorblind. I kind of felt sorry for her but then admired her for being courageous. Normally, teens add that kind of color in their hair. I would watch blue-haired lady and then look back at my wife. This went on until...
I noticed a high school couple sitting in a booth. The girl was going off on the guy. It was a three-snaps-in-a-z-formation kind-of-talk (reminds me of an SNL sketch). The guy was listening to her as if he had no idea what she was talking about. This went on for minutes.
The whole time I feel like I am now in a tennis match. I am watching the high school couple, my wife, and the blue-haired lady.
Everything stopped when my wife asked, "What have I been saying?"
I had three response options:
- Tell her I was not listening.
- Tell her I was listening but got distracted.
- Make up something and hope it was what she said.
I decided to take the higher road and chose the third option. I totally made up something. She then said, "That's right." I was floored to think I could make up something and it be correct. I was feeling pretty good about myself until...
She said, "Jason, that was ten minutes ago." I felt so small at that moment. I attempted to explain that I started out listening well but got distracted by my surroundings.
She dropped this bomb on me, "Jason, I wish you would give me more attention than the distractions around you tonight."
Scene 3: The Lessons
- Active listening says I care.
- Distractions are temporary.
- My wife is permanent.
- Be fully present.
- Don't offer Burger King as a date option.