Then there was the “sleepover” incident, a recent example of me not listening to TL. A couple months ago we agreed to get together with a family whose youngest child is friends with our youngest child. We all found the mother in that family a bit annoying. Before meeting up with this family, TL expressed that she was not up for entertaining anyone at the house that evening. I assumed it was because of the mother. We agreed, if either of us were asked, we should just say, “No, it just won’t work out tonight.”
At the event, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the annoying woman had been unable to attend. She had to work. Later, we all took the kids to a pizza place. The younger kids asked us whether they could have a sleepover at our house. TL said, “No, it just won’t work out tonight,” as planned. That’s where I stopped thinking carefully and started speaking before thinking things through.
I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. Why should the kids not have a sleepover? The annoying woman would not be involved. If the kids could entertain each other, maybe TL and I could have more time to ourselves.” Following that incomplete logic, and failing to consider my obligation to back-up TL, I said, “Well, why not have a sleepover?”
The kids had the sleepover. When we returned home TL went directly to bed, telling me I was in charge of the sleepover. Though it was early for TL, it was not early for me. I tried to go to bed too. This made TL more angry. TL wanted me to stay up and supervise the kids, who were seven and eight years old. I believed the kids could entertain themselves, did not need supervision, and could put themselves to bed. TL disagreed.
Later, we dissected this incident with B. That’s part of what led to our discussion of the three parts of personality and the importance of me learning to nurture and support TL.
I’ll mention our recent “eggs over-easy” incident. It’s another lesson in communication for me. On vacation, I decided to make breakfast for everyone. Knowing TL likes an egg for breakfast, I asked her how she wanted her egg. She said, “over-easy.” I said to myself, “That can’t be right. The clearest memory I have regarding how TL likes her eggs is a memory of her saying she preferred egg yolks to be firm, not runny.” I proceeded to cook her an egg over-hard. I was convinced I did the right thing. I had not.
TL asked, “What happened with the egg?” I told her I made it hard because I didn’t believe she actually wanted it over-easy. A heated discussion followed about why I would assume to know better about what she wanted than her very words just told me. She could not understand why I bothered to ask how she wanted it, if I had my own idea about how to make it already. Obviously, when TL first said, “over-easy,” I should have verbalized my confusion out loud and asked her to confirm whether I understood correctly. It turns out that the year I was away, she started liking her eggs over-easy. This was yet another example of my poor listening skills based on making assumptions instead of actually listening to her words. I’m working on it still.