photo courtesy of therapytoronto.ca
What ‘cha thinking about?
It’s a classic question I used to ask my husband. And when I asked, in return, I often got a blank look to go with his very long pause. And then, his answer, “Nothing.”
This was always hard for me to understand. Nothing? How can you be thinking about nothing? How can you not have something going on in your head that you are considering, debating, or pondering?
So once I persisted. “No really, just tell me. You have to be thinking about something. Just tell me. I don’t care what it is, I just want to know.”
What I learned is that much of the time, what my husband is thinking about isn’t much. It isn’t about me or our relationship or our kids and what they’ll do when they grow up, or whether or not we should allow our daughter to drive to her friend’s house in this god-awful snow.
Nope. Turns out he’s often thinking about the following:
One or two other things I’ll leave to your imagination.
Not necessarily, but quite possibly, in that order.
I don’t believe my husband is so unusual. And he’s a bright guy, so I’m sure in those times when he’s planning out the work budget or figuring out our personal finances or playing Sudoku, there’s much more going on up there. It’s just that when he’s at home relaxing, what he’s thinking about is nothing like what I’m thinking about.
Because I’m thinking:
Should we eat leftovers for dinner or do I need to cook?
If I cook, what can I make with three chicken breasts to feed a family of 5?
Do I need to send Sarah (our eldest, in college) her birthday gift in the mail, or should we visit her? Will she even want to spend her big day with us, or is that totally lame when you’re turning 20? Or would she secretly be hurt if we don’t come?
Will my kids ever actually put their coats on the coat rack?
Will I ever get Abby (our youngest) to keep track of her stuff? Is middle school with her going to be a three-year nightmare?
Am I ever going to get published in The Sun?
Will I ever get my book done? And what if I don’t?
Should we splurge on Hawaii next year or is it too much money, too commercial for my taste?
Do we even have rice if I end up making the chicken?
I think there are two things going on here.
One is that men and women think very differently. Men focus on one thing at a time, think about only one thing at a time. They also tend to live more in the present moment than women (I’m obviously speculating here…). Women, on the other hand, tend to multitask both in actions and thoughts all the live long day. We think about work when we’re home with kids, we think about our kids when we’re at work. We think about how to get to the grocery, get dinner on the table and get the laundry done all the time. We think alot and we’re always thinking ahead.
The second is that my particular neurons fire out messages to my brain all day long. About a lot of really boring, really useless stuff. Yes, occasionally such messages and thoughts help me to be organized and keep me on top of things. But still, they also keep me from living in the here and now. From slowing down and enjoying life. My husband suggests it must surely be exhausting to be me. Seeing as I have never been any different, I’ve never really considered the question.
But what I have considered is this: perhaps sometimes it’s just better not to ask what your spouse is thinking. Because he just might tell you. And then, if you’re me, no matter how he responds, it will just give you more to think about!
Am I alone in my strange ways? How do you think?