My husband NEVER hears anything I say

I’m the non-listener in my relationship. Part of it is that I sometimes only catch the part that affects me. For instance, my husband will say, “I’m going to the doctor at ten tomorrow”, and my mind goes down a path of “this will change my schedule in the following ways.” By the next day, all I recall is that he won’t be around, and “where were you going again?”

He also sometimes has a habit of doing very long pauses when he’s explaining things. “What you need to do is………………………………………………………………………………call blah blah blah important stuff.” Well, shit, I wandered off in the ellipsis. I didn’t mean to, but I’m not a machine that goes into sleep mode until you start again.

My husband has an ongoing task list, so if he thinks he might need to do something, he takes a look at that. However rememberings things, such as, “the gardener is coming at 1:30”, is not in his wheelhouse. It’s on the calendar, so I’m probably not going to write it down again.

It’s not that we don’t listen; it’s that we don’t multi-task very well. My wife can read the paper and be fully aware of what is on the radio/TV. She’ll be doing a crossword puzzle and suddenly laugh. When I ask what’s funny, she’ll say “Oh, so-and-so just said that blahblahblah on the radio.” Or she’ll be reading a book and be completely aware of what’s being said on the TV news. I, on the other hand, am pretty much singularly focused on the task at hand. Everything else is a distraction. When I cook, I’m completely focused on it and have to stop what I’m doing if she wants to say something to me. Same for most everything else. Why this is so – whether it’s nature or nurture – is a mystery to me.

Oh thank god - I read this whole thread in one sitting and it was getting so marsvenussy I was starting to wonder “am I literally the ONLY woman in the world who takes the bloke position on this?”

As alluded to by … uh, whoever brought up the Feynmann experiment upthread (sorry, it’s a bit big to go back and look now), I suspect it has something to do with internal cognitive styles. My internal cognition runs 100% verbally (anyone who missed some of the earlier discussions on the board about internally visualising and whether you can do it should really check some of those threads out - there is a very wide range of experience on that front) so I can be doing one of two things a) thinking about anything at all or b) accepting audio input.

Unless I spend all day with my mind on continuous loop “is someone talking to me right now? no. what about now? no. now? …”, external audio is simply not being stored. Anyone simply starts talking to me without getting my attention first - nah, the first ten seconds are gone, never to be retrieved (although if they walk up to me and start talking it may well work - I can do visual cues fine. It’s not like I was doing anything else with my visual processing system, it can hang around in input-receiving mode all day without discombobulating me).

I must say though, I don’t totally get the “saying yes on automatic” style of relating. Seems to me that this is something you could train yourself in or out of - if you’re going to say ‘yes I heard that’ then you really ought to be prepared to stand by it.

My husband can be sitting in the back room reading something online and have a kid next to him watching a YouTube and actually make sensible comments on what the YouTube is saying, while continuing to read - this seriously amazes me. I literally don’t understand how that cognitive trick works, or what it might feel like inside your brain.

My issue is that I almost certainly have undiagnosed ADD. I can really only focus on one thing at a time, and it’s difficult for me to break away from one thing to another. So if I am doing anything else when my wife starts speaking to me (like ordering something online, paying a bill, going through the mail, emptying the dishwasher, or making coffee), I’m more likely than not going to miss it. Over the years, I’ve also learned many bad habits, like saying “uh-huh” when someone is speaking, but it doesn’t mean I’m listening.

I avoid this at work by dropping everything if my boss speaks to me (which only happens a couple of times a week), but that’s not really an option at home. I’d literally get nothing done if I dropped everything every time my wife speaks to me.

I would argue that some people are able to focus more, which is an advantage to getting tasks down. For this reason, those people do not notice outside distractions.

Multi-tasking is a myth. What is often termed multi-tasking is just being able to switch between different tasks faster.

Perhaps, but it’s as good a word as any. Yeah, I do tend to be better focused. It’s probably why I always finish the crossword puzzles first, even though my spouse is smarter than I am. She also tends to do things like start cooking something and then walk away from the stove to do something else, which makes me crazy. We’ve had a few near disasters from that, so I watch her closely.

I am very grateful to my parents for not allowing me to do this, so I have this habit. If I walk away from the kitchen, I bring a timer with me, or ask my husband to watch it. My mother-in-law has burnt many a meal due to her inattention.

I would like to be able to focus better, but my job depends on me being able to switch gears fast.

I actually have a coworker who really doesn’t hear anything I say. At least he had big problems, until he got hearing aids. I have met a few people with minor hearing loss and they all tell me that my voice is in the range they just cannot hear well.

For me it was a focus thing. If I am focused on some task, no matter how mundane, I tend to ignore my environment in favor of that task. That could be my (now ex) wife (who complained a few times about that but this was not the reason for being an ex).