As we all know, women like to talk and men want us to shut up. I’m sure this was an issue for Adam and Eve: She wanted to talk about her day, but he just wanted to unwind and space out. The most common complaint of married women? “He doesn’t listen!” Husbands are typically frustrated by wives who describe problems but don’t seem to welcome instructions on how to solve them. Smart husbands will pretend to listen at least some of the time, but their body language says “Hurry up before I explode.” We’re talkative but we’re not imbeciles.
Recently, feeling starved for conversation, I called a male friend, Dr. Larue. At some point, he complained about his wife’s habit of describing her day. If she had to talk, why couldn’t she do it with less emotion? Her expressiveness annoys him. I pointed out that I only called him because my own husband doesn’t want to converse with me. We discussed another couple whose ratio of talking to silence is creating a problem along the same gender lines. We wondered why so many expressive women wound up with such uncommunicative men. (Probably because that’s the only kind of women and men in existence, it occurs to me now.)
So here is my business proposition, hatched with some suggestions from Dr. Larue: A telephone service for women who want conversation with a man! Nothing sexual, obviously, since that service is already covered. This is about active listening. The ad campaign would be something like “Women, Save Your Marriage! Need to talk? Call Bob, The Man Who Listens!” There will be options like “For sympathetic listening, press one. For fascinated listening, press two. For Slightly Combative but Still Supportive listening. press three” and so on. There won’t be an option for advice, because, duh, you can get that at home.
I love this idea! I’d call “Bob” right now, if the price were right. The only problem would be finding the Bobs. When I asked Dr. L. if he’d sign on, he laughed heartily. “Are you kidding,” he said, “I can’t stand to listen!” I reminded him that he’d been listening to me. “Well, you’re entertaining,” he responded. Ha! Tell that to my husband.