Conversations with my Husband

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

I have had some pretty stressful weeks at work lately, mainly due to the seriousness of some of my cases, and I have neglected to look around me for humor. Humor is an essential component of my self-care.  A conversation with my husband last night provided me with some giggles, and I  wanted to share it.

My husband and I don’t get out much. We seem to be constantly busy with gardens, cooking, or cleaning the house. I work until 7:00 pm three nights a week.. We are tired by the time Friday rolls around, and, quite honestly, we live in a small community where we know lots of uncomfortable truths about many people and/or their relatives. It doesn’t make us the most popular couple in town.

When we meet people and they find out that we are both psychologists, the usual remark is “You two must stay at home and analyze each other all the time”.  Well, we certainly don’t do that. We have lots of conversations, though. I realized last night as we were talking that some of our conversations would probably sound positively bizarre to most folks.

Husband has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. He is a deep thinker and has a myriad of interests outside of psychology.  At one point last evening he was talking about “Health care justice and its relation to Constitutional Monarchy” (I think we were talking about the Canadian and British health care systems). He then scampered to the history of political philosophy, described a history of the Second World War he was reading by John Lukacs (not George Lukacs the Marxist, he was careful to point out), and ended the evening with the pronouncement “The French Revolution was not universally blessed”.

Taken out of context, I think this all sounds terribly funny. It also would confirm to many of our town folk that husband and I are more than a little odd. We both had a good laugh last night when I pointed out what egg heads we sounded like. I hope tonight’s conversation can give me the giggles, too. It has been a hard week.

What’s your conversational style?

 

95 thoughts on “Conversations with my Husband”

  1. You write appealingly about the conversational style you and your husband share. I once had a friend who saw philosophical patterns in ordinary events. Conversations with Jerry were delightful.

    A few years ago I discovered that I had a conversational style: storytelling. I was mighty puffed up about that for a while before realizing that storytellers usually suck at listening and can be tedious windbags. I now work at cultivating a conversational style that is more economical, egalitarian and respectful. Mostly, I fail.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. My first trip to Madison, WI with husband was pretty alarming. We visited a large group of husband’s friends, and they all talked like he did! I just kept my mouth shut and tried to follow the very complex conversations around me. Our graduate school friends didn’t converse like that!

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    1. A shock for me was visiting my erstwife’s family early in our courtship. Hers was a large family, so nobody got to talk very long. Their conversational style could be described as “impudent repartee.” I can report from personal experience that the mix of storytelling and impudent repartee is awkward or worse.

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  3. I like the conversational style of back-and-forth, For example, if it’s two people, one person says something and the other person responds when the first person is done talking. The person who is not talking at any given moment is listening, not just thinking of what they can say next. It doesn’t have to be 50% listening and 50% talking, as long as each person gets a chance to do both. There are times when it might be 90% one person talking because of something heavy or upsetting going on, but as long as the two people have a relationship of back-and-forth conversation, that’s okay.

    But in real life? I try to keep my mouth shut. Not always successfully, but I’m learning (most people need a listener, not another talker). When I’m babysitting the twins, I make proclamations e.g. “In 5 minutes, we are going outside to play.” “In 3 minutes, we are going inside to go potty and make lunch.” Etc.

    I remember the first time I went to Blevins Book Club. At one point we talked about books we had read recently and I said something…then realized that everybody was listening to me. That felt very strange to me.

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  4. As a teacher I was regarded positively as a story teller, which I will say I used as an effective tool in the classroom, but those are not conversations. When I was one on one with students, I asked questions about them and listened. Same as a pastor. I was very Rogerian in tutoring and supporting modes.
    I was a silent child but ended up a loquacious adult. When I start d spending so much time alone, I talked far too much. So I avoided social situations. Most of Sandy’s friends are women. Two have husbands with whom I cannot carry on a conversation. Both are rather peculiar. Both like to make snide comments in my direction. I think they are being funny, they think.
    Now with chronic pain so severe I am dead silent with other people.
    Sandy is a genius at conversation. To be that beloved you have to be a good listener, truly caring, and good with your questions. I wonder how many of her friends are aware how little they know about her for all the time they have spent with her.

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  5. I think Curious would cover it if I’m meeting someone for the first time – I always have questions for anyone I don’t yet know. Then If I get to know you well enough, there will be the Didactic phase when I want to teach you something that I know, and you should know. If we become close friends, I will want to bare my soul and Be Understood (or at least, not be Misunderstood), so we enter the Confessional stage.

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  6. I THINK I have a very casual conversational style, although my vocabulary changes sometimes depending on the people involved. I noticed a few years back that a couple of my friends get bigger words!

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  7. OT – Can/would anyone loan me the book Other Powers? I requested it from the library a few weeks ago and it is now obvious that the one copy will not be ready in time for me to read it before book club meets.

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      1. Are you checking it out from hennepin county library? If so, the one copy they have is In Transit now and you must be the one person before me. I hope it will get to you before you leave.

        I’m going on a short trip next week, leaving Weds. afternoon and returning Sunday. So, depending on when it’s due, and when you finish it, you can either return it when you’re done (and it will be ready for me to pick up in plenty of time to read it for book club) – or you can hand it off to me. Okay?

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        1. Oh, never mind, I just saw that you’re buying a copy. Yeah, if you are done with it within a week or so of Book Club, I’ll be glad to borrow it. Thanks!

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        2. Are you already done with it, Bill? Could I borrow it before I leave on my trip next week (leaving Weds. afternoon)?

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        3. LJB and Bill – did you connect on Other Powers? My copy from Amazon did NOT arrive before I had to leave for the airport so I won’t get to it until I get back.

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  8. Interesting topic Reneeinnd.
    Finding the humor in things is SO IMPORTANT to me.
    An example I often go back too happen 30+ years ago. My car had died plus I was in tech for a show. I was stressed and car shopping and said to a friend of mine that I was annoyed because I couldn’t find any humor in the situation. He pointed out there *wasn’t* any humor in the situation. And I laughed.
    It’s interesting, isn’t it, how it’s so easy to have conversations with some people, and with others… even though I consider them good friends, we don’t always talk a lot. We talk about specific things and when that’s over…. silence.
    And that is fine with some people and uncomfortable w/ others.
    Curious.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I’m w/ you Ben – I’ve actually chosen a doctor based on sense of humor. I was making an appointment at a new office (for a wrecked ankle) and when the person asked me if I had any preference in doctors, I asked her “who has the best sense of humor?” She thought about it a minute and said “I think that’s Jay _____”. She was right; he had a great sense of humor and was good fit for me!

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      1. My lengthy contribution to TB refuses to post. It keeps saying, “Sorry, this comment can’t be posted” so I’ll try doing it as a reply.

        Two years ago, I had myself tested for what I feared might be early onset dementia. I’d been struggling with spelling words I’ve known all my life, needing a calculator for the common math problems, and being too forgetful. After a full 8 hours of testing, and a consultation one week, later, I was extremely relieved to learn that I don’t have any dreaded brain disease.

        However, I did get a diagnosis I’ve never heard of: “nonverbal learning disability”. Being far too verbal, this didn’t make sense until he defined the condition for me. NLD is a result of something going wrong in the actual birth process, so it’s not congenital or inherited.

        The doctor told me that this creates a “spacial problem” which makes doing math very difficult (I failed 9th grade algebra) and not being able to judge distances (I park 6′ away from curbs because it looks like I’m right on top of them). I don’t use freeways because when I try to enter one, I truly cannot judge the distance of cars coming up in the lane I have to enter. The greatest impact, however, is that NLD causes a pronounced inability to read social cues. I simply don’t see them.

        This explained my lifelong problem of saying out loud what most people only think, and simply not knowing it’s inappropriate or ill-timed. An
        example would be sitting with a group at a restaurant and blurting out, “Who’s going to pay for this?”. I’ve gone through my life occasionally crossing people’s boundaries and being oblivious that I was even doing it, then being genuinely surprised when they react poorly. Even when it’s explained later to me, I don’t get it. I do, however, consciously try to record and learn from it.

        Last weekend I was on my way to a family gathering. during the drive, I repeated a mantra to myself; “Don’t talk about anything personal and do NOT bring up politics. By the time I got there, I quickly realized that I had nothing else to talk about!

        The downside to newly discovering this odd diagnosis is that it’s made
        me feel pretty self-conscious, something quite rare for me. Thankfully, a few people in my my life like me because I don’t filter much. In fact, that’s probably what they like most about me.

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      2. There is solid research that ties your attitude towards your dr. And her attitude towards you is important to results. Right now I have developed a poor attitude towards my dr. And other medical people. I am trying to get back to a positive attitude towards them. I went to PT three times. First time with a wonderful man with a genuine caring an listened attitude. Got passed off to a woman who is bored with either me or the process and snaps at my questions. I quit going. What is the point with that. The Mankato Clinic had a staff of people who make appointments when you hav a referral. They have amazing phone skills. Caring and listening tone. Very accommodating. But in the last referral to a GI specialist, the woman asked if I preferred a male or female dr. Still surprised by that.

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    2. I’m with you, xdfben. I usually try to find the humor in any discussion. But mostly I listen and react to the conversation. Not good at starting, guiding, or directing a conversation like some are.

      Chris in Owatonna (but writing from Colorado Springs this afternoon.)

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  9. For me, the ideal would be having the ability to select the best conversational style for any given moment and conversational partner. That’s an ideal few people achieve. Most of us, I think, are comfortable with just one conversational style. We keep reverting to that same conversational style, even if we mean to do something else.

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  10. I think my conversational style shifts depending on who I’m talking with. There are certain friends with whom I talk quite a bit, and conversation seems to flow quite naturally.

    I usually find groups difficult, though. I often open my mouth to say something and collide with someone else’s comment, and I stop. Then the conversation moves on to another topic and the opportunity to make the comment passes. So mostly I just listen when I’m in groups. I have noticed, though, that if there is a person who has been dominating the conversation, they’re often the person who will turn to me afterward and say “You’re so quiet.”

    I agree with ljb – it’s very nice, and quite rare, to find a group that knows how to pause and listen.

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    1. Linda, the last part of your second paragraph is quite funny. Some people who dominate just have no clue that other people can’t get a word in edgewise if they just go on and on. I like to think I’m never that person, but I’m afraid that sometimes I am – it’s the pitfall of not having (m)any people to talk to during my everyday life. Once I get a chance to talk, sometimes I can’t seem to stop blabbing.

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  11. I used to teach and grade discussion in A. P. English. I would ask a question, always open-ended questions, which I would never answer myself. I told the students that they had to wait for a count of three before answering each new question I asked. I would redirect statements or point out contrasting points of view in comments but never commented myself. I awarded points of -1(for being impolite) to 3 (for coalescing two or more comments from other students or redirecting the discussion in a new direction).
    You got a B in discussion (15% of total grade) for being a polite and attentive listener, even if you did not comment. For students who wanted an A in the class but just could not speak up, I held a one on one discussion with those students asking them other questions. Some told me that their minds did not work that fast or that they were too shy. I would look for students who were trying to comment and call on them by name, usually girls. I learned toward the end of my teaching career that their is a sexist aspect to this. I taught the students to be aware of those students too, to allow them to speak.
    Girls, who tend to think more globally, are slower to form an answer, on the average now, and did not jump right in. That was part of the reason I required the count of three before answering because I was taught in a class in grad school to give that pause. I did the same in recitation (me in front of the class asking questions to which on the whole I was looking for a right answer). Many boys became frustrated at first with that pause. In recitation I did not allow volunteers to just speak for the most part, but called on students who raised their hand, at first, then called on those did not raise their hand. I quickly noticed that the pause allowed more girls to raise their hand. It was allowed to say “I am thinking about it” then I would come back to that student. I to this day do not know how to allow for this gender difference. I wanted to involve the quick and daring boys as much as I wanted to reward the think about it girls.
    Another small classroom presentations: it is much better to say it and then write it on the board, or write it on the board and then say it. Doing both at once does not allow for differing learning modalities.

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    1. I should add the graded discussion were proclaimed as such, one day a week. This did not apply to the days when I was presenting or holding recitation.
      I have had a few students tell me that was an important part of their learning. A few went off to college expecting college lit classes to be like this and got frustrated. Many told me this was how the started formulating their essays.

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    2. You sound like a very good teacher, Clyde. What an excellent idea to count to three before answering questions – although I personally would probably need a count to 10 or more because I can be a very slow thinker. Even people who are quick thinker-talkers would benefit from waiting before speaking. And to hold a one-on-one discussion with some students…just wonderful.

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  12. In a word, I would have to say that my conversational style is awkward. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that I am just more comfortable and facile expressing myself through the written word than the spoken one. That is a function, no doubt, of my speed of processing.
    For the sort of conversation one might imagine at a cocktail party or at the putative water cooler, I’m at a disadvantage in that I have some significant gaps in my familiarity with much of popular culture.

    When I find the right auditor, I can be genuinely, irritatingly effusive, but the topics that bring that out are rarely ones that crop up spontaneously and they aren’t the sorts of things you can casually insert in a conversation. So I listen. I make brief comments or affirmations. I know that a good conversationalist should be able to have a satisfying exchange with just about anyone on any subject. Maybe it’s my innate shyness, but for me it can be an effort and it’s often not satisfying.

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    1. Me also. I know nothing about popular culture. I am only current with the Twins and nothing els in sports. Will not discuss religion or politics. Haven’t watchd network tv in 25 years. Don’t watch BBC soap operas. Go to very few movies. I listen politely without paying attention to other people genealogy stories, which has become a favorite topic in my age set.

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  13. I should clarify here that husband and I really only talk to one another like we were the evening I describe, and that we both are good at less arcane topics. Husband has a slight stammer, so you have to be patient as it takes a bit, sometimes, for his thoughts to congeal.

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        1. I didn’t have any high school best friends, despite a graduating class of 800, and the people I would most like to reconnect with are ones that never come to reunions. The reunion regulars seem to be those for whom high school was actually a high point. No surprise there, I guess.

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  14. Text conversation with daughter last night:

    D-GOT THANKSGIVING OFF

    M-I will prepare a feast for you

    D-This is my dream THANKSGIVING

    D-All mine

    D-I’ll start planning the menu

    D-David is having a book tour in Minneapolis!

    M-David?

    D-SEDARIS

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        1. Oh, I never plan Thanksgiving. Her dad and I just have to cook it. She comes up with the most wonderful, albeit complicated, recipes. She is becoming a good cook, but likes us to spoil her.

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        2. You are a better person than I, Renee…if someone came up with complicated recipes for me to try, I would not be a happy camper. But I’ve never liked cooking Thanksgiving dinner anyway.

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  15. We were watching a PBS show on wild India last night. As they were showing the Bengal tigers, a loud painful or boastful scream came from the woods right off our patio. We are not sure if it was a one- or two-sided conversation out there and who was talking. No conversational skills whatsoever!

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  16. Renee’s question and Bill’s comments caused me to reflect this morning on the ways people communicate. I’ve had one relationship where the obviously most effective way to communicate was through instant messaging. Instant messaging is like conversing in person or on the phone, for you talk back and forth in real time (unlike writing a letter). And yet with IM you have that crucial bit of extra time for reflection, so your comments tend to be more thoughtful than if you just talked and listened. In this relationship I refer to we tried letters and we tried talking on the phone. Both ways of talking were obviously less suitable and pleasant than instant messaging. In this relationship, instant messaging eliminated the awkwardness and stumbling quality of most conversation. Two people who struggle in real life to escape self doubt and shyness were able to communicate freely by taking advantage of the way IM allows people to think before speaking.

    In this one relationship IM was the perfect way to talk. But I’ve never communicated that way with anyone else.

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    1. Some of my best conversations have been through Facebook Messenger (when I’m on a computer, not when I’m tapping out messages on my phone, I’m too slow on the phone). I find it easy to think and “talk” that way. I’ve also once used the messaging feature of gmail to carry on a conversation with a friend – we usually talk by phone, but I had a bad cough and plugged up ears from ear infections so we tried the messenger thing on gmail because she doesn’t use Facebook. I liked it. She didn’t.

      There’s only about one person with whom I can manage to have a decent phone conversation. With everyone else, my mind goes blank and I can’t think of anything to say. I highly prefer messaging over phone calls any day.

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      1. Most people have had the experience of having a conversation and then, two hours later, slapping themselves on the head and saying, “Doh! I now know EXACTLY what I should have said!” My one experience with instant messaging left me thinking I would be considered a wise and funny fellow if the only way we could “talk” would be through IM. That crucial little bit of delay needed to type was just what I needed to sound intelligent instead of the crap that I usually speak. Sigh. Oh well, when I get to heaven maybe everyone will converse via IM.

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        1. Well, I don’t think messaging made me sound THAT much more wise and funny, but I enjoy it more than talking on the phone, and sometimes more than talking in person. Too bad I don’t have anyone to do it with anymore, except once in a blue moon with daughter-who’s-away-at-college.

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        1. My mistake perhaps. I had watched about a dozen episodes– one set? and I thought that was the lot of them. Then this week I revisited and saw other sets available. I thought they had been newly added.

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        2. Just rewatched two of the good ones. My son has done some research on the show, even messaged with Raksha, the Indian heritage member of the team. Many episodes are not In the set because their digs were a bust.

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  17. my conversational tone changes with the atmosphere. right now it is a littel volitile and so the tone is tense. we are going through some trying stuff and the conversations are strained.
    we like to discuss art the children politics and dreams, i enjo it when these are the topics of focus.

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