If communication is supposed to be the hallmark of a strong marriage, I think my husband and I are in trouble. It’s not that we don’t talk to each other. We probably talk to each other too much. Our communication problems aren’t about anything specific. It’s mostly a lot of “this” and “that”.
Like the other night, when we were watching TV. My husband suddenly starts waving his hand at me.
Now, I haven’t said a word, so he’s not shushing me. After all the years of being married to him, though, I know that shushing and hand waving while watching TV means “turn the volume down.”
I mute the television and I wait.
“Did you hear that?”
“That sound,” he says. I can hear the annoyance in his voice.
“Well, of course, it’s a sound,” I say, my annoyance equally apparent. “If I was supposed to HEAR it; it must be a sound.”
“So, did you hear it?”
“Hear what?” I ask again.”
“Could you narrow it down a little? I mean, what kind of sound is it?”
“I don’t know. It’s kind of…wait, there it is. Did you hear it?”
“Well, let’s see. I hear a hum from the TV. The motor on the frig is running. The furnace just went on. Nic is snoring to wake the dead. And, I think I heard one of the neighbors’ dogs barking. Was it any of those sounds?”
“Then I didn’t hear it.”
“Oh,” he says giving a shrug. “Why is the TV on mute? I can’t hear it.”
It’s not just “that”, that is causing us trouble. We’re also having problems with “this”.
At least once a day, we will have a conversation that goes something like, well, this.
“Do you know what this is?” my husband yells from another room.
“What what is?” I yell back from inside the dryer.
“This!” I still don’t know what it is but I can tell from his voice that he must be pointing.
“If I can’t see it, I can’t tell you what it is. Can you describe it?”
My favorite of these conversations, though, is when my husband is looking for a snack.
Staring into the snack cabinet, my husband let’s out a loud sigh. “Do we have anymore of that stuff?”
“That stuff we had the other night?”
I reach past him into the cabinet. “Do you mean this stuff?”
“No, that’s not the stuff?”
“Is it this stuff?” I say pulling out another bag.
“No, that’s not it either.”
“Do you remember what it was called?” I ask, growing tired of the hunt and the conversation.
“Never-mind,” he says with another sigh. “I’ll just have some of that.”
I had him that last bag I took from the cabinet.
He sighs again. “No. I meant this,” he says as he takes the first bag from my hands.
I think if we are going to make it through another 12 years, my husband and I better stick to using nouns.