The following is a frequent interaction in our home:
Me: (Frantically searching, rushed) Have you seen my keys?
Him: (Oblivious. Completely.) No.
This probably seems pretty straightforward,no?
A question is asked, a question us answered.
Ahhh, but let me take you layers deeper into the world of marriage.
Here’s the setting: My coat is on. My purse is in hand. I am searching around the house for something vital to my going out the door and getting to my destination. Plus I’m making a lot of very loud and very obvious noises of exasperation.
I know you’re a smart guy. I know that you can put two and two together and come to the conclusion that I am looking for my keys. And I already know that you haven’t seen my keys because if you had, I trust that you would not continue to let me run around the house like a mad woman searching for them.
So clearly I am not just asking if he has seen the keys. You can see that, can’t you??
What I am actually saying is
“Could you kindly help me find my keys?” “I would appreciate your help in looking for my keys.” “FIND ME MY KEYS!”
Now he innocently* believes that he has helped me enormously by answering my question to the best of his ability- an honest, ‘No.’ Then he continues on his merry way, doing whatever it was he was doing.
*I’m being generous.
Unbelievable. I am obviously in a state of emergency here. There’s somewhere I need to be. I am (always) running late. And now I know that you know that I am missing my keys. Because I’ve just asked if you’ve seen them. Which means I have not seen them. And you truly believe that you have done your part in this situation by giving me a two letter, one word verbal response?
So of course my huffing and puffing increases. He, now sensing that my irritation has shifted from the missing keys to him, the helpful husband, is suddenly offended, and perhaps slightly confused. Now if you take the amount of time it takes to actually recover the keys and multiple that number by 10 you have the amount of time I will stay angry and he will remain confused.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably asking yourself one of two things:
- Why wouldn’t she just ask for help finding the keys in the first place?
- Why wouldn’t he just help her look for the keys?
I don’t ask because I assume I should not have to ask. He doesn’t offer to help because I have not asked. It’s a vicious cycle.
And I know full well that if I just said, ‘Hey, could you take a minute and help me look for my keys?’, not only would I find them sooner, but I would avoid the next few hours of intentionally giving him only one word responses. (Yeah, I’m petty, and it’s exhausting.) Am I too proud to ask for help? Possibly. Do I expect my husband to act or react in ways he may not be wired to act or react? Frequently. Is he sometimes in his own little world and is completely missing my exasperated performances; my huffing and puffing; my tossing cushions around and stomping up and down the stairs? Likely. I really wanted to end this post with a poll asking you who you think the bigger dummy in this story is. Then I realized that if the results indicate favourably towards my husband I would probably create one of those situations where I display how petty I can be and he ends up very confused.
I know it’s completely unfair of me to assume my husband knows what I’m saying without me saying it. Granted, sometimes we’re awesome at that. There are times I can just look at him and know exactly what he’s thinking and he can do the same with me. But sometimes he’s just really into a book or a game and he isn’t exactly interested in deciphering my hidden messages and signals.
Obviously the ‘read between the lines’ approach is not working for me. Maybe I should just be direct and ask for help next time. We’ll see.