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Husband prioritizes multitasking over wife

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

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Carolyn Hax

Friday, April 21, 2017

Q My husband and I are busy; we sometimes refer to ourselves as “type double A.” He more than I, but we love to make lists and check off tasks. He loves being time-efficient — so do I — and nothing brings him more joy than multitasking.

I have learned that if he has his back to me, don’t speak because he has his earbuds in and will not hear me. This happens so often that I feel frustrated and low-priority. I know I am not, he just loves to be hooked up while he is doing things. We do have time together, although sometimes we have to work to get that time. That’s not really bad, because I’m often out pursuing my hobby.

I have shared my frustration with him casually, and he told me to just approach him and he will take out his earbuds. But after doing it a couple of times, it just doesn’t feel very good to interrupt him; I have to get in his face, and I find myself just leaving him be, which feels sad. It feels like I’m alone.

I really don’t know if my perception is accurate, or if it has just become a sore spot to me and feels like it happens more often than it does. He is not being mean, this is truly him. He uses every minute to the max.

We used to stream a movie together on the weekend, but now he always has something already going. So a few times I just streamed by myself, and he felt hurt and said I should tell him and he’ll stop what he’s doing and come watch something with me.

It looks like I’m jealous of an iPad; I’m so proud. Any ideas? — Sad

A Hey baby, let’s make a list and [wink] check off tasks.

I’m not sure you can work any harder to justify your own neglect.

You are no longer a priority in your own marriage, so you need to say something. Not “casually,” either, but instead with the gravity of your true feelings. “Casual” at this point is disingenuous.

Yes, you know he doesn’t mean to hurt you, and you appreciate his openness to interruption — and certainly do say this to him — but the fact that, at virtually all times, his attention is in a place from which it must be redirected just for you to be acknowledged means you live in a state of solitude, not companionship. You feel alone because you are.

There are countless relatively minor adjustments you and he can make to your habits and home life to ease this isolation, assuming of course he hears your truth and cooperates: giving up earbuds at home (seriously — or using open headphones if he must); choosing a series you stream only when you’re together, no cheating; picking up an unplugged hobby together like cooking or dancing or after-dinner walks.

But the specifics of these are secondary to the absolute importance of your closing the gap between what you really want and what you’re falling over yourself to rationalize away. Letting that gap stand will erode not just your marriage but also your self-worth — faster even than finishing second to the cause of crossing ever more things off a list.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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