Communication between spouses (or partners)

For those of us who have been together for more than a few years, mutual communication sometimes takes interesting paths. My wife accurately accuses me of speaking too softly. What I learn later is I may think she heard what I said, but she may have been too tired to follow-up when I spoke too quietly. So, when I mention I told her something later, she will respond that she does not remember me so doing. This is a version of husband or wife deafness, where you may not hear everything of what is being said. I do it as well.

My wife and I both do the following and that is ask the same question we were asked earlier in the conversation. We get tickled by this, but it will follow a pattern like:
– I will ask “Do you want to leave earlier?”
– Conversation ensues and circles back
– Then she will ask “Do you want to leave earlier?”
– “That is what I asked you.”
– Then we will both laugh.

The funniest communications occurs when neither one of us can remember the name of an actor or actress, a movie, a restaurant, an old friend or colleague, etc., but we both will know what we are talking about. It is a coded language where certain references can get the point across. The dialogue will make no sense to a casual observer, but communication has occurred. It may go like “do you remember that place in Winston-Salem which had that desert the kids liked?” And, she will know.

As for actors and actresses, Iphones have simplified our lives, abetting our memory loss. We can search on the show, look up the cast and find that movie we were trying to think of or the co-star. Yet, it takes some of the fun away with the added clarity. “Isn’t that the guy in the Allstate commercial?” will start a search rather than a discussion.

Finally, couples have a form of non-verbal communication or short verbal clues to pass along a mountain of information. The cue could be touch on the arm, a pinch, a pat on the leg, a small shake of the head, etc. “Don’t go there” is a key message when a sensitive subject arises with a third party. Plus, the other spouse may not be supposed to let a third party know he or she knows a confidential matter. Or, “it is time to leave” is another key message, which comes in handy at the other spouse’s office holiday party. Or, my wife will whisper “don’t bite” when someone is trying to start a political argument.

Let me know if you have some of these communications. I am sure all couples have their own variations.

You remember that place next to the restaurant we liked

This is an example of “couplespeak.” After years of marriage, it is entirely possible the other member of the couple will know precisely where the speaker is meaning. And, neither may actually remember the name of the place or the restaurant used as the landmark. This kind of conversation can surface in a multitude of ways. Here are a few more examples.

Oh, she is that actress who starred in the action movie with the guy we like.

This one usually requires some stumbling add-ons. Because the responding question will usually be, “Which movie are you talking about?” Nowadays, with Google, it is possible to come up with names and trace the movie to the other star. Yet, it is possible for the spouse to know after some add-on suggestions, who the actress and actor are.

Why don’t you make that casserole you made when we had some folks over?

Between the two, the name of the other couple can be surfaced which will help with the mental Rolodex of recipe names. Otherwise, it will be an ingredient hinting exercise. “I remembered it was a chicken and sausage dish.”

Was it Johnny, Susie or Joey that had the whooping cough or was it the croup?

This is not a fill in the blank question like the others. But, if you are a parent of more than one child, some of the younger child illnesses blend together. Your kids will laugh at you if you don’t remember, but they will cease laughing when it happens to them as parents. Also, the diseases do get mixed up some, which is why you keep a list.

What is the name of that singer that sounds like the woman we heard on the American Idol or The┬áVoice?”

It is the “name that person questions” that come up the most. We know both of us know her, yet neither can recall her name. We do need to find some hint that will jog memory or facilitate the Google search.

To others, it will appear we have no sense at all. If you told someone that you could not remember a popular person or place, the other person would think you were crazy. “How can you not know that?” Yet, all couples will eventually migrate to this couplespeak at some point.

Tell me a few of your examples. Which ones did I not capture? When did you first notice this trend?