Last week I shared that I believed the lie that I am always in trouble with my wife. Here’s another lie I believed:
I didn’t think my wife could stay on topic in a conversation!
I ask, “What’s for dinner?” She gives me three or four alternatives. She thinks she is answering the question. I think she is initiating a discussion. But all I wanted was an answer! Sometimes I ask what’s for dinner and, instead of an answer, I get another question: “What would you like for dinner?” Why can’t she stay on topic?
Let me give you another example: Me: “When is dinner?” Roxann gets defensive: “I’ve had a lot to do today.” That’s not an answer! And it appears to me that she’s changed the subject. From my point of view, there may be multiple detours skirting the target subject without giving me an answer.
If I want to discuss a new diet plan, she discusses costs or time problems. “Which one would you like to discuss first?” I ask. “They’re all connected,” she responds. “You’ve just put three different subjects on the table,” I protest. “No, I haven’t,” she says. And round and round we go.
I try to narrow it down: “So is the answer to my question ‘yes’ or ‘no’?” In my head I’m saying, “Your honor, would you please tell the witness to answer the question!” Discussions in our life group indicate there seems to be a gender difference in this area with most of the husbands being satisfied with a simple “yes” or “no” or a one-sentence answer.
So, who is right? For me, the breakthrough came when I understood it wasn’t a matter of me being right and Roxann being wrong. We merely think and discuss differently. I take what I feel is one topic at a time and focus on it–diet plan, set my goals, plan my strategy, and don’t let other topics derail me. Roxann considers how the main topic will affect other areas of our lives. She sees more interconnectedness between subjects.
There is some value to multitasking in conversation. But there is also value in staying on topic and not getting distracted. There is great value is having a dash of humility and conceding that God gave you a spouse who thinks differently than you so you can make better decisions than you would otherwise. Maybe my wife doesn’t stay on topic like I do. Maybe she is more of a global thinker than I am. And, maybe that’s not a bad thing.