For years I have known that there are very different ways that people see things – or hear things. But none is so clear to me than when constantly around and living 24/7 with a man. I have a husband AND a son – so I know what I’m talking about. I’ve even written on the two subjects over a year ago – highlighted below in this article.
Men have an undisputed ‘Nothing Box’. A place where they go in their head to do – NOTHING. No one is in there. No one. As in No one – Nada – Nothing. Zip. Zero. NOTHING. It’s where they ‘zone-out’ – put a pause button on life and just do – nothing.
Women have a ‘Something Box’ – decorated anyway we want – and we can invite anyone into it to have deep meaningful conversations – listen to music or do whatever we like – with no interruptions and no distractions. At least most of the time. It is pretty and surrounded by our own thoughts – our own wishful thinking and a place where we win every argument and solve every problem. A place where everyone loves us and we are queen of the universe.
But because men and women think very differently – herein lies the problem:
1. Men go occasionally to their ‘Nothing Box’ – but usually for short spurts of time – not the whole day – and when they emerge from their ‘box’ they are ready to do life again and engage in conversation. RIGHT NOW. As in enter into social niceties and give you their full attention. And you best be ready. Men have fragile egos – and like lots of attention. Especially my man. It’s just true.
2. Women live in their ‘Something Box’. Yes it’s true – but don’t tell anyone I said so. Shhh. It is a secret. We can get away with living in it and not have the men know about it – because we can multi-task. And we do it well – fooling our male counterparts – because they are not like us – and because they can’t do this – they don’t think we can either. It is easy to fool them. But we are not men – nor do we think like them. We stay in our ‘box’ all the time.
It is the way it is.
Here’s another problem:
Besides being male and female – we all process information differently. Some are very visual – like my husband. He gets visual stimulation and processes it as he sees it – much like looking at a picture of a map – rather than the written directions to get where he is going – and he does not always pick up on audio cues. A commercial on the TV will stop him dead in his tracks and hypnotize him. I’ve never understood that. I don’t get sucked into anything on TV unless I can start from the very beginning. It simply doesn’t interest me. Another thing I’ve observed from my dear husband is that fact that he gets VERY distracted to outside noise and stimulation.
For example, when we are in a restaurant that has a TV on in the corner – he HAS to look at it. Or if a couple behind him in a booth have a conversation going – he can be looking right at me – but he’s so caught up in the conversation behind him he has a hard time focusing on what I’m saying. But he can tell you EVERYTHING about their conversation. I’ve never understood this – because I simply don’t hear it. I can hyper focus on the person right in front of me – and there can be loud BLARING music going on around me – and maybe even a sirens, smoke and FIRE – and I probably wouldn’t notice it!
You see – I’m the opposite – I am an auditory learner – and more precisely, a kinesthetic learner – meaning that if I hear something I will probably always remember it – and I climb inside of music and conversations to really feel it. I love to feel things – deeply. I love meaningful conversations – I can hyper focus all of my attention to do this. Also – I can recite lyrics to songs from my youth – and pretty much know every song that I’ve heard (within reason). Not so my ‘visual’ husband. He’s like, ‘are those REALLY the lyrics? – I never knew what they were!’ Incredible.
So – it is what it is.
My visual male counter part – emerges from his ‘Nothing Box’ – sees the world and processes all the visual stimulation out there. Especially true when we’re driving in the car. Greg is excited about what he ‘sees’ and loves sharing it with me. He’s cute – like a little boy. 🙂
Problem: I’m always in my ‘Something Box’ listening to music on the CD player – thinking deeply about something on my mind that’s troubling me, writing a new blog article, solving theater problems, etc. – and all of a sudden – Someone is interrupting my thoughts and BURSTING INTO MY SOMETHING BOX – by pointing and saying in a LOUD voice – ‘LOOK AT THAT OVER THERE!!! Are you looking? You’re MISSING IT!!’
Greg does not understand – that I am the kind of person that takes everything in at once – processes it quickly – and I throw out what is not necessary to my life at the moment – I save the most critical and important things in my head to think about and work on – in my ‘box’. I cannot be distracted and pulled in another direction – it does not work that way. He gets very frustrated with me. He ‘sees’ it and responds – I ‘feel’ it and contemplate.
But – it is what it is. And it is something we’ve had to deal with over the years. I have learned for example that I must stop what I’m doing when Greg comes into my office – even if I’m in the middle of a deep thought – or writing an article. I need to put a ‘pause’ on what I’m doing and turn in my chair and look right at him – so he sees that he has my FULL attention – which is what he wants from me all the time. I have learned that this is the best thing to do so that he will see that I’m making the effort to understand and give him the attention that he requires – even if it means stopping what I’m doing. Better yet – I get out of my chair and go over to him – engage him with great eye contact and touch him – kissing him is better and giving him a warm embrace. That seems to do the trick 🙂
This makes him a little more understanding when he tries to interrupt my thoughts in my ‘something box’ – as I know he will, so I will see him and pay attention. And I try to be understanding when he does not hear me and doesn’t pick up on the verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s okay – I know he’s in his ‘box’ again – and all will be well when he comes out 🙂
And he in turn has learned to listen WAY MORE than he ever did before – realizing that I don’t need him to see me – but I need him to hear me – and to feel it with me. So that’s exactly what he has attempted to do – and to his credit – when he comes out of that ‘box’ – he does just that!
Here’s to you and yours as you find that balance with each other and try to have patience for the men in your life with their ‘nothing box’ and the women with their ‘something box’ – as you try to navigate through life – together. 🙂 Good luck! You’re going to need it.