Communication Problems in Marriage: Is He Tuning me out or is it Something Else

I’ve struggled for 4 years now communicating with my husband.  At first I blamed his slow processing speed for the blank stares I would get after I said something and the seemingly senseless comments he would make back.  It was hard to figure out what was going on.  And why it would make me so crazy mad.  At times I would stop telling him things just to avoid the reaction.  It seems to go through cycles of good, then falling apart, and then absolutely maddening.  It’s difficult to explain to someone else what happens when I talk to him.  I end up sounding like a controlling person.  Finally I started running our dialogue past my best friend to see what she thought.  It became clear to me that this was a basic logic problem.  Let me show you:

Info we both already know:  I have a physical therapy appointment in the afternoon and he has to be at work at 5.

Me:  I’m going down to pick up Gina after school and bring her home so she can watch the babies.

Him:  So you’ll be here before I go to work.

Me:  Why would I bother to go to town to bring Gina back to watch the babies if I’m going to be here before you go to work?

That’s the kind of conversation we have a couple of times a day about something important that I’m telling him.  It seems like he’s completely lost and I don’t want to take the time to catch him up and I don’t feel like I should have to.

Like today:  Haley called and asked if someone could bring the babies down to the park in town so she can trick-or-treat with them.  He knows I have to take Gina to a doctor appointment.

Me:  Here’s the plan for this afternoon.  Meet Haley at the park at 4:00 to trick or treat.

Him:  So she’ll already have the babies with her.

Me:  Why would I send you to the park if she already has the babies?  Did I say she did?

It’s confusing and twisted and if he was abusive I would say it was damn near crazy making.  My friend says he might be tuning me out.  Her boyfriend tunes her out.  He’ll change the subject and talk over her while she’s finishing what she’s saying.

I took a LOGIC class once and it seems to me that he doesn’t have a grasp on the assumptions that are behind my statements.  Here’s the logic rule that seems to fit:

  • One statement implies a second statement if and only if it is not possible that the first statement is true and the second statement is false.

In other words, a statement P implies a statement Q when and only when it is the case that if P is true then Q is true. For example, in the following case, the first sentence implies the second:

  1. Sam is 33 years old.
  2. Sam is older than 21.

Given these two statements, my husband would be most likely to say:

“So Sam can’t drink in bars.”  He would either not be able to pull up the assumed information that the drinking age is 21 or maybe my friend is right and he tuned out what I was talking about and just threw something out there to make it look like he was paying attention.

He takes an assumption and instead of asking if it’s true he will say the opposite, false, statement.  If I said Sam and I are going out for a drink, he would say “So Sam is a teenager.”

Not that our conversations are as simple as the Sam thing.  They are a whole lot more confusing than that.  Which is why it took me forever to figure out why he was making me so angry.  And I can’t guess as to which assumption he’ll screw up.  I tried this morning with the Halloween thing.  I planned it out ahead of time.

Me:  Here’s the plan.  You’re meeting Haley at 4:00 in the park for trick-or-treating.

I guessed that he would either say

  • So you’re meeting me there with the boys.
  • You want me to stay in town and meet you there.

If it was as simple as giving him ALL the information to clear up any confusion there is no way I can do that as I can’t guess which implied true statement he will switch around.

I don’t have a solution to this yet, other than recording conversations.  I’m think a white board to map out true statements and what can be implied from them might work.  It sounds bitchy.  But I don’t know how someone doesn’t learn this.



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