A top family barrister once told me that in her experience the main reason that couples get divorced is because:
A. The husband complains that his wife will not have sex with him
B. The wife feels that the husband doesn't listen to her.
Now, I'm not too worried about point A. I for one am definitely up for a bonk of an evening. If my husband and I were ever conscious for longer 30 minutes after putting (forcing) our young kids to bed, then I certainly wouldn't turn him away. He is a rather handsome man after all.
Point B? Well that's a different 'ball' game. I can TOTALLY imagine that men's inability to listen is real bugbear for LOTS of women, hence the reason for many a divorce. My husband has what one might call 'selective hearing' as his ears automatically shut down when I raise certain/most topics. He always hears me, yes. But listens? ....Not even close.
I have noticed that this sudden deafness is brought on when he is exposed to bright colourful lights. I could be standing in front of him totally buck naked holding a four pack of Carlsberg whilst telling him the football scores and he will not listen to a word I say if the mighty 37 inch Samsung is glaring. He will switch into the classic 'Standby mode'- nodding his head up and down whilst grunting 'Uh, Huh' at regular intervals.This gives the impression that he is listening... but he isn't AT ALL.
Even if his eyes are looking at me, his ears are honing in on Jeremy Clarkson banging on about turbo engines. This happens with any TV show in fact: Peppa Pig, Mr Tumble and the Tombliboos get more ear time than me. If the telly is on, the bright lights just draw him in like a moth to a flame and even a naked cartwheel across the living room floor will not get his attention.
This is highly infuriating and so I get annoyed- particularly when I twinge my back from all of the attention-seeking naked cartwheels. When I get annoyed, I start to nag. And when I nag he still doesn't respond as his face is usually buried in his iPhone (another bright light that draws him in). I then start to become shrill- so shrill in fact that only dogs can actually hear me. If I carried on like this he'd either end up profoundly deaf or my volcanic rage would make my head explode and ruin my Magnolia paintwork!
Therefore, I decided to experiment to find a way of being heard. Here are my findings should any other woman find herself in a similar position to my own.
To get my man to listen to me I:
1. Remove ALL Visual Distractions.
Blind people have exceptional hearing. It's Scientific FACT that removing one of our senses means that others become heightened. Now, I don't blindfold my man (although that sounds interesting) but I remove all visual distractions instead. Distractions are usually anything that lights up: TV, Phones, Laptops, a Barbeque or any naked flame even. I pause them, remove them or extinguish them.... With the visual stimulants out of the picture, his ears have the opportunity to step up and listen the beauty of my voice.
2. Remove The Competition.
My kids talk ALL THE TIME. They scream, they shout- sometimes they even bark. I may be great at talking but my boys are professionals. They are louder and better at it than me and they will win the undivided attention of my husband's ear drums if I let them.
So, if I need to talk, I entice my husband into the kitchen with the promise of a beer. Once he is securely out of the kid's way , I use the 37 inch glaring Samsung in the living room to my advantage to distract my kids with a stupid pig in a red dress. And yes, they also go for it like moths to a flame. They're boys after all!!
The atmosphere in the kitchen then becomes one of peace and tranquility (where a three year old isn't humping my leg whilst screaming for a Kinder egg) and it means that I have a fighting chance of being heard!
3. LOWER THE TONE
As tempting as it is to nag, I realise that it just doesn't work. My husband just zones out and aurally adapts to the perpetual irritating noise- much like when I go to soft play and stop noticing the insane screaming of sugared-up toddlers after a while .
Nagging doesn't work and neither does shouting....if my man can tolerate hoards of men bellowing at the football in the pub, then my measly wail isn't going to even penetrate the surface of his robust ear drums.
I've found that the key is to drop my voice down an octave and talk with hushed, gentle tones: Less Joe Pasquale- MORE Barry White- esque. I also lose ALL of the emotion in my voice: No sharp bursts of shrieking or hysterical hormonal howling. Instead, I speak with a gentle, low whisper that assures his ear drums that they are safe and it entices them to drop their guard, open up and let the oscillations tickle and seduce them. 'Will you change the baby's nappy', I whisper. His ear drums start to gently vibrate and then lean in to embrace the pleasant sound: 'Uh, yeaahhhhhh!', he replies dreamily. Works every time!
4. Question him.
When conversing with my husband about a list of errands that I would like him to do for example, I ALWAYS follow up the list with the question, 'What did I just say?' and wait for the reply.
This little test confirms if he has actually listened and processed everything that I have just said or if he has merely switched into his aforementioned 'Stand by' mode and grunted at regular intervals as I performed my monologue. In the long run, this saves many an argument and he may actually do 50% of the errands on the list and not just the last thing that I said.
So there you have it. These four simple points have made ALL the difference to my marriage and I am finally getting listened to over that irritating Pig and her whining little brother.
Now, I recognise that women have flaws too. I have already mentioned that we are prone to nagging and so in the spirit of playing fair, I have a few tips for the men about how to stop your wives/girlfriends from nagging you:
1. Tell Her You Love Her.
Your wife could be nagging with the stamina of the Duracell Bunny and all you have to do is say, 'Do you know what?..I love you'. That should stop her in her tracks immediately. Trust me.
2. Kiss Her
If the words don't work, silence her up by swooning in for a spontaneous kiss. She won't expect it plus it'll stop her nagging as your lips will be blocking her airstream. Result!
3. Distract her with treats
If neither A or B work, offer her a glass of wine or a slab of cake. This act of kindness should stop the nagging because if she is eating a chunk of Sara Lee's Carrot cake, then her mouth will be full and her vocal chords incapacitated. Most women will back down from the nagging to avoid spraying cake everywhere. We are elegant creatures you see.
4. Bonus Card
If all else fails, play the bonus card and just yell with enthusiasm, 'Look!!!! Hugh Jackman!!!!' and point over her shoulder at the window. If this doesn't shut her up, nothing will!
Or, as I've just explained with great passion to my husband: 'If you want an easy way to stop the nagging....just LISTEN in the first place!!! It really is that simple'.
*Husband hands me a slice of carrot cake to gnaw whilst I dart to the window to look for Hugh.
Of course, a megaphone is always worth a shot.