Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Learning to Listen to my Wife

I have learned a lot since the birth of my son, and the most important lesson of all is that, no matter what, my wife and I have to listen to each other once in a while.  Practicing our listening skills in front of our son is probably the most important lesson that we can teach him.  Practicing this skill will also help us survive as a family.  We all know how irritating it is to speak to someone who plainly isn’t listening or maybe not even hearing us.  None of us wants our kids to be that guy.  We want our children to be able to have healthy relationships, and proper communication skills are the key to having a healthy relationship with someone else.  In order to make that happen we have to provide the example that they will live by.

With that said, I need to work on my communication skills big time.  You see, I tend to shut down my mind a lot of the times when my wife talks to me.  I am terrible at listening to hear.  What’s worse is that I get defensive when she calls me on it.  I try to listen to her, some times, but often I feel like she is nagging me about things she has been nagging at me since we got married.  It doesn’t sink in that the reason she nags at me is because I haven’t been listening to her all this time. We have been married for 8 years and I still haven’t learned to pick up after myself.  She still gives me the same speech about it too.  At least I think she does anyway.  It always starts with her saying that she feels unappreciated.  After that I stop listening.  Man I am a jerk.  I really do appreciate my wife and everything that she does, but it is not enough for me to think that and say it.  I have to show her that I am listening and make an effort to change.   How simple is it to change my habit of tossing my clothes just anywhere I feel like?  So what's stopping me?  Laziness. She knows that I am completely comfortable living in squalor, but I know that she isn’t.  I need to throw her a bone and try to be less lazy and pick up after myself more. It can't be that hard to do.

Even though I haven’t gotten any better with my clothes, I have tried to improve on my tidying up after I am done cooking skills.  I have found that my wife is absolutely right in that. It is so much easier to clean the crap off our pots and pans if I wash them immediately after I use them.  Yeah, that sounded like it was ridiculous when she was saying that to me for years, but after a while I tried it her way.  She was right.  It saved me time in the long run.  A lot of time.  It really is easier to clean up sooner rather than later.  I can’t count how many times she used to tell me that if I cleaned one pot or pan while the other was being used I wouldn’t have to scrub so hard later on.  I should have listened to her from the start.  I was always the “let it soak” guy.  I still am when I am especially lazy, but I am trying to be the “get it done” guy now.  It just saves time and hassle.  Why turn a 1 minute job into a ten minute job?  It just doesn’t make sense.  I hate to say this, but my wife was right from the get go.  I was just too stupid to listen to her.

I realize that my wife feels ignored a lot of the time, and I don’t want her to feel that way.  I don’t want my son to grow up in a household where ignoring the people you care about is commonplace.  I have got to change to make this happen.  What is the quote, “Change is good?”  I think that is it.  Well, anyway change is good, but it is also hard.  I have recently decided to change my lifestyle habits too because I finally listened to my wife and went to see a doctor to check on my blood pressure and all that rot.  It turns out I am not healthy.  I knew that already.  After all, I do have a genetic disease.  So what else is new?  Well, it turns out that I have stage two hypertension as well.  So, the doc gave me a little prep talk and wake up call, and out the door I went with a new attitude.  I haven’t been absolutely true to my new diet, but I feel that I am making progress anyway.  My wife likes to tell me that if I wasn’t so selfish I would have taken better care of myself years ago.  She’s right.  I should have.  I was being selfish, and now I am going to try and make it up to her and my son because now they both depend on me to stick around for a while.  So, I need to get healthier.  I am guessing that like washing the pots and pans, it would have been easier for me to become healthy if I had started right away rather than wait until I got around to it.  Once again, my wife was right from the start.  I should have listened to her.  Now I have to work twice as hard to get healthier. 

I don’t want anyone to think that I only need to work on my listening skills in this relationship.  No, that would be lying.  I also really need to work on my speaking skills.  I have to be willing to tell my wife what is going on with me.  If I am having problems or if something just isn’t right she has a right to know.  Telling her this kind of stuf is almost harder for me than listening to her. It isn’t enough to just work on half the skills needed for proper communication when both skills are necessary.  If I want my son to be able to have all the skills necessary to succeed, he is going to need to know how utilize both halves of what is needed to communicate.  You can’t listen to someone who is not talking.  We are not mind readers here.  So, for my son I am going to try to open up and talk to my wife about my feelings more often.  Hopefully it will get easier.  However, as for now the very idea kind of makes me feel nervous.  I don’t know why though.  Isn’t that why people get married in the first place?  So, we can be comfortable telling each other our feelings and what not.  I have been told that the reason why the average woman lives longer than the average man is because that women are more verbal and in tune to their emotional wellbeing.  I am not sure if I believe that, but what do I know? 

What I do know is this.  I want my son to be a better person than I am.  I don’t want him to resort to name calling during an argument.  I don’t want him to be a tantrum thrower.  I don’t want him to feel like he is shut inside himself until he bursts either.  So, I am going to make an honest effort to lead by example.  Doing this has been pretty hard for me so far.  You don’t know how many times I want to shower random people in stores with profane language.  It feels like the world is just full of idiots and I am one of the biggest and baddest that there is.  Therefore, it is hard for me not to react to stupid people the way I have always reacted, with profane language and hostility.  It didn’t work then, and I am sure it won’t work in the future either.  Since I can’t make them change, I will change or at least try to.  Eventually, I hope to be the role model that my son deserves to have, but until then I will have to be content in my realization that I am trying to be.


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