There was a time – not all that long ago – that multitasking seemed the only way to get everything done. I was a manager of a rather large journal account and had clients, employees, and projects that all needed my attention. As it is for almost anyone who works on a computer today, most of my day was spent juggling phone calls and emails, often doing both at the same time. Somehow just talking on the phone didn’t seem to take up enough of my being; my eyes and hands were left with nothing to do.
For the most part my phone conversations were short and were problems that were easily solved, ditto the emails, except on those occasions when a meeting was needed to really focus on the problem at hand.
Most of the time it worked. I could answer a question in email about the proper style of a four-column table while looking up the production schedule for the client who was patiently waiting on the other end of the line.
I think this worked because the tasks were related; it all went together to produce the journal and my eyes, hands, and ears were all occupied at least for a few minutes.
I noticed, however, that the process started to break down when my husband would call on his break and want to know what I had planned for supper, what we might be doing this weekend, or just wanted to fill me in on his day so far.
Invariably, my eyes and hands would need something to do so I’d continue reading email or responding to email while trying to sort out our social life. As though my being distracted wasn’t enough of a hint, my husband could hear the clicking of the keys as I responded to an email and would sometimes ask if I was typing something.
After a while I got clever and typed slowly while talking on the phone with my husband. That way the keys were rather quiet and he couldn’t tell I was typing – except that I was still distracted.
I am generally not a rude person. In fact, I’ve been told that I’m too polite, but it dawned on me one day that it was very rude of me to continue working while my husband was on the phone. He didn’t call that often and I always worked more than my 40 hours anyway, so his call was not taking away from my work productivity. Worst of all, instead of strenghtening our marriage by staying in touch, I was allowing our phone calls to be a hindrance for us.
I realized that my husband deserved my full attention. If I absolutely had to finish what I was doing, I would tell him that and call him back when I was done. If my task could wait, I would take the phone call in an empty conference room to give him my full attention.
He deserved to have my full attention for those few minutes each day that would help us stay connected and break up the routine of our work.
When your husband talks, do you truly listen to him? Do you give him your full attention or do you try to multitask and make your conversations fit in with the other important things you have to get done?
When your husband wants to talk, give him your full, undivided attention. Put down whatever you are reading, look away from the computer screen, turn off the TV. Whatever might distract you from the conversation should be put far enough away that you won’t see it, hear it, or touch it.
You’ll be surprised how much your husband will find to talk about when he knows that there is nothing more important to you than hearing what he has to say.
Yours for the celebration of marriage,
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