This combination would occasionally result in me not listening to every word that came out of my wife's mouth. I admit it. I think it's a good first step...toward what I don't know.
And let's be honest w/ ourselves here. We're all guilty of this, right? I mean, right now some of you are probably just skimming thru this post to grab the gist.
Well, similarly, I was guilty of audible skimming. (Does that make sense? If so, I want to trademark that term right now.)
Now, to be fair to myself, my tendency (too strong a word) to zone out often occurred when Jill would begin to lean into a story or anecdote that I'd already heard...from her. So, both respectfully and often carefully, I would communicate this to my loving wife.
But, this can be a tricky retort. She's rolling into charted territory and I need to respond w/ a balance of great appreciation for the forthcoming story, while also letting her know it's a repeat.
Most - not all - of the time I could strike this balance.
But it didn't matter.
I learned - quite quickly, in fact - that if Jill had something to say, she was going to say it. No matter if it was clear to all parties (including herself) that she had said it before.
Jill's response was often a quick, but oddly effective iteration of, "Okay, but let me finish." She wasn't rude in her response. It was almost like once she started, she did not have the ability to stop. The story, the anecdote, the thought process had to be completed...on her terms.
(Yes, Rory is the exact same way.)
Anyway, as stated, I had a tendency to periodically zone out. And on most of these occasions, it did not have a negative impact on Jill, me, or even us. All remained right w/ the world.
But there were moments when I was caught in distraction. And Jill would pleasantly call me out on it, knowing she clearly had me trapped in a hazardous situation.
"What do you think about that?" she'd tee up the trap for me.
And this - this my friends and family - is when the real magic happened.
If I could quickly read the mood of the room and tone of my wife, I could implement what would become my go-to response in these precarious scenarios.
The key is to begin confidently. "Well, I think if you want to start the garden this weekend, I agree that it's important that we all pitch in..."
Judging her facial response as I'm speaking, I'm not even close to being on topic. So I continue w/o interruption...
"...but that's not what we're talking about right now. I just wanted to reiterate the importance of gardening as a family. In response to your question, I think it's okay for Rory to have the sleepover, but I'd prefer it be at our house this time..."
Nope, I'm not even warm. But I must keep going. Don't let up...
"Future reference. I'm talking sleepovers b/c I know how interested Rory is in them right now. Obviously that's beside the point of this conversation. To address your question, I really think any spring break trip we take needs to be limited in travel. We only have a week and I don't want to spend half the time traveling to and from..."
I'm still way off. Hemorrhaging...but I've still got Jill's attention. This is key. Best defense is a good offense..?
"Ya know what, we'll talk about vacation later. Let's just table that for now. Right now we need to discuss the topic at hand. And while I do think that house project is important, I think there are other more important things to tend to first."
I intentionally go vague in this portion of my response in effort to better my chances of catching hold of something she had originally mentioned.
Her eyebrows raise a bit. This could be a good or bad sign. Go, man, go. Continue...
"That's just my opinion. And you asked me what I think. Really, for this one, just do what you want to do and I'll support it. I trust your decision making."
I'd often close w/ sincere appreciation for, and confidence in my wife's abilities. It's an ever-so-slightly veiled compliment to top off my rambling.
And that's really the key here - the rambling.
Clearly I had no idea what Jilly was saying. And from the moment I opened my mouth to respond, she knew I had no idea what I was responding to. So I chose to embrace that fact and play w/ it.
I would ramble on just long enough for Jill to begin to be genuinely entertained by my bullshit babble. And if I could sense she was entertained (almost always), the situation was diffused.
Crisis averted. End scene.
Until next time...
J, J, & r