Wrinkles in Paradise

Spouse's conversation skills can be touchy subject

Special to The Sun City PacketJuly 1, 2012 

In a previous column, I bragged about my husband and his talents. I noted that his devotion was unquestionable, he babied me when I had the flu and he knows how to answer when I ask, "Does this make me look fat?"

I praised his money management skills, said his one-liners were hilarious, and talked about his thoughtfulness in making birthdays and anniversaries special. On top of all of this, I praised his thick, wavy (I call it fluffy) hair.

Despite all his attributes, he does have a shortcoming - conversation. Over the years, I've tried to solve this problem by explaining to him how typical conversations flow--i.e. one person says something and the other person responds, with words. Not, for example, with silence, which always prompts me to ask, "Did you hear me?"

I've let him know that a grunt of acknowledgement is not acceptable. And I've indicated that "good" is not an adequate response to every comment and that "sucked" is not an appropriate rejoiner when I inquire about his golf game

To help improve his conversational skills, I made a list of responses for him to use. They're noted below.

1. "How interesting you should say that."

2. "I can tell you've been thinking about it a lot."

3. "Sometimes I feel the same way."

It was time to put the list into practice. The next afternoon, as we sat companionably on the porch and enjoyed the trickling fountain and the beautiful flowers, I served my first conversational opener over to his side of the court.

"Bob, I've been doing some thinking."

"Some thinking, huh?" he volleyed back.

"Yes."

"How interesting you should say that."

"What?"

"That you've been thinking."

With ire rising, I said, "You think I don't think?"

Hastily, he replied,"No, I know you do. How interesting, though, that you've been thinking again."

"About what?"

"Well, I don't know. You haven't told me."

"Did you hear me?"

"You said you'd been thinking."

"Well, aren't you going to ask about what?"

"Ask what? I thought you were going to tell me something."

"Well, I am if you say, 'Thinking about what?'"

We looked at each other until I insisted, "You have to say, "Aboooooout what?'"

"O.K. ," he said. "About what?"

"I think we should move."

Nodding sagely and showing no surprise, he said, "I can tell you've been thinking about it a lot."

"I have not," I practically yelled. "The idea just popped into my head this morning. Just this morning."

"Sometimes I feel the same way."

"What? You're interested in moving, too?"

"No. Sometimes I feel like an idea just popped into my head."

"Will you please concentrate? Do you even know what we are talking about?"

"We're talking about moving."

"Right. I think we should move."

"How interesting you should say that."

"Interesting! Interesting that we should move? Interesting?"

"Really, I can tell when you're interested in something," he said calmly, and referring to the prompt list, added. "Sometimes I feel the same way."

"What? Are you crazy? This conversation is going nowhere, interesting or not. I'm going in the house!"

And just like that, I got up and stormed inside.

After some deep breathing exercises and a short period of meditation, my head cleared and I've been rethinking the conversation piece. Maybe a sustained conversation with your spouse is over rated.

Exactly how important can it be anyway, as long as your man has hair?

About the author

Wanda Lane is a retired educator who lives in Sun City Hilton Head. She's a member of the Sunscribers writing group and the author of a book of essays entitled "Wrinkles in Paradise." It's available at local bookstores and from the author at 843-705-6839 or thelanes@hargray.com. Her husband's name is Bob, and he's a good sport.

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