Jesse Murphy: Apparently, I have a listening problem

Jesse Murphy

My all-seeing, all-knowing wife informed me of an interesting fact late last week.

I guess I?don’t listen. Who knew?

The situation arised as we (she) were (was) discussing plans for the weekend. She apparently became aware of my listening disability when she posed a question.

“Well, what time are we going?” she asked.

“What time are we going where?” I said. A?natural response, delivered as slowly as possible as I scanned my brain to try and recover at least some of the conversation. I took a shot in the dark, trying to buy more time.

“Maybe around 6, what time were you thinking?” A quick follow-up before she could answer. I hoped to be interrupted by the kids, but they were nowhere to be seen, and they were quiet for some odd reason.

“Lunch at 6?” Came the sarcastic retort.

I blew it. But that exact moment, I found my saving grace, even though it was short lived. Cries came from the other room. A sibling fight had broken out!

For a 23-pound 2-year-old, she can hold her own against her much bigger 5-year-old brother. Rushing to intervene, we entered the room just in time to see a toy car launched at his head. It missed (can rule out her being a pitcher), but the two were still separated.

The ploy worked; luckily, the boy brought up our weekend guest. Instantly, I gained ground by mentioning if we went to lunch earlier, we could spend more time with her parents in the afternoon.

She smelled my fear as I awaited her response. A simple agreement, a mention of who would call to inform the in-laws, and I mentally wiped the sweat from my brow.

“You know, you really need to start paying attention,” she said over her shoulder as she walked away.

Busted. Again. I gave the typical, “Sorry honey, I’ll try to keep better track, what you say is important to me,” etc. But it really got me thinking. Maybe she’s right.

Between constant messes from the kids (and occasional refereeing of fights), work and taking care of the house, time for conversation on important household issues is extremely limited. The time should be used wisely, though that is not one of my strong points.

As I pondered, I realized she was talking to me again. Not even trying, I?asked her to repeat herself. As I braced myself for the inevitable, I received a shock.

“Do you think you might be losing your hearing?” There was genuine concern in her voice.

But, instead of hogging sympathy, I owned up. Too many things on my mind. I’ve gotten so used to tuning out kids, sounds of telephones ringing or car stereos bumping outside that sometimes I just stay inside my head.

So maybe my problem isn’t listening, it’s hearing. Selective hearing. Being the nice guy I?am, I again reassured her of how highly I view her opinion. Almost groveling, I vowed to work on my listening skills.

I’ll stick to that plan, I told myself. And as I looked at my wife, I noticed her lips were moving again. Ugh.

Jesse Murphy is a reporter for the Maryville (Mo.) Daily Forum. He can be reached at or found staying up late watching hearing aid infomercials.