There’s an old Gary Larson cartoon that tickled EW and me. In the first panel, under the title, “What We Say to Dogs”, the dog owner says, “OK, Ginger, I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage. Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage or else!” In the second panel titled, “What They Hear”, we see, “Blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
On a recent evening, I decided that sometimes communication between wife and husband is similar to communication between owner and dog. Yes, I just compared EW to a dog, but I love dogs. They are cuddly, and loyal, fun to have around, and they keep the bed warm. (Not that a warm bed is important to me in the tropics and semi-tropics.) EW is also cuddly, loyal, fun to have around, and he too, (unfortunately down here) keeps the bed warm. But I digress.
When EW talks, I listen, and I respond. Communication is a two-way street and I travel it at warp speed. I can’t tune him out, even if I want to. If EW talks, I listen, and I respond—not always in the way EW expected or in a way that is conducive to effective communication—but I do communicate, dammit!
EW tunes me out. Or, if he is listening to something and decides it doesn’t need a response, he doesn’t respond. On one memorable moment, I said, “Just because I talk a lot doesn’t mean I have nothing to say.” That caused us both to pause and laugh.
Sometimes I want to stand in front of him and wave my hand and say, “Anyone home? Hello?” That isn’t conducive to effective communication, either. That happened on the recent evening in question, and I immediately thought of the Larson cartoon. Fortunately, I didn’t share that thought with him, nor did I get ticked off – because, really, what I was saying may not have been effective communication to begin with. (OK, it was a mini rant that began with “After this, I’m done with (whatever we were talking about) and ended shortly after the sentence that began with “You should…”) Yep. Can we all agree that isn’t effective communication? (And it is sort of reminiscent of the owner’s rant to Ginger.)
EW didn’t call me on it, and he couldn’t argue with me because I was right – in a be-witchy way. (You know what I mean.) He just went about his business and didn’t respond at all, as if I hadn’t spoken. Since I was doing the dishes and he was shutting the boat for the night we weren’t having a face-to-face, look-into-my-eyes kind of conversation, so I was easy to ignore. Me. Easy to ignore. Go figure.
Two thoughts came to me simultaneously:
One was the Gary Larson cartoon. We’ve had two wonderful dogs and I know they heard “blah, blah, blah, COOKIE”. This felt exactly the same.
The second was, “Oh my gosh. What if ignoring me sometimes is the best thing to do?
That can’t be right. Can it?
If it is right, what if I just ignore some things that he says? Instead of taking umbrage and getting on my high horse, as my mom used to say, what would happen if I just let some things roll off my back with no response? No response and no repercussions or left-over gotcha anger.
If he can do it, I can do it.
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Turn about is fair play.
None of these phrases effectively communicate my real intention here. In fact, they all contain that “gotcha” feeling. What if I choose to ignore meaningless stuff rather than get defensive and sling back a sharp retort?
“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Barb.”
I’m all over it.
NOTE: Both photos above are of Jake and Me. Jake was our second lab. Coffee also enjoyed boats and human beds.