“Yeah, yeah,” I replied, grabbing the laundry basket and heading down.
“And don’t forget to separate the colors from the whites!” my 7-year-old daughter shouted behind me.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said again, already at the bottom of the basement stairs.
“Daddy isn’t even listening to you,” I heard my daughter’s voice drift down through the floor vent.
“No. I don’t think he is,” my wife replied.
“On Spongebob, Plankton’s wife says that husbands never listen to their wives,” my daughter said.
“Well, you’ll find that with a lot of men, honey. They don’t always listen to their wives,” my wife said. “But eventually, they come to realize they should have listened more closely.”
Down in the basement my jaw dropped. How dare my wife give such advice to our daughter! I’m a pretty considerate husband and father – better than some (most) of the guys I know. But like any man – any person – I occasionally lose focus during conversations and/or forget things.
I could accuse my wife of being equally inattentive. How many times have I asked her not to leave her shoes in the middle of the floor? How many times have I asked her to uncap the empty water bottles before she tosses them into the recycle bin? How many times have I told her that the plug on her iPhone charger needs to point left —not right – in order for it to work? Sometimes I just don’t think she listens to me.
But the truth is we’re both listening to each other, we’re just hearing and retaining different types of information. Scientific studies have shown that men and women listen differently. Men primarily listen with the left side of their brains, while women use both sides. That doesn’t mean women are better listeners. It means men and women process the same information differently.
It’s unfair to paint all husbands — all men— as lousy listeners. Women are equally guilty. I flip the laundry, dump the dirty clothes in the washer, start it up, and head back upstairs to set my wife and daughter straight.
“You know, I can hear you through the floor vents!” I said when I reached the kitchen. “And I don’t think it’s right you’re teaching our daughter that all men are bad listeners. I listen to you!”
“Did you bring up the clean clothes?” my wife asked.
“Did you separate the colors from the whites?” my daughter followed.
I turned around to head back down to the basement… and tripped over my wife’s shoes in the middle of floor.