Your husband isn’t ignoring you, nor is he going deaf. He’s simply a product of evolutionary survival strategies
I’ll be blunt. Men really are the fragile sex. There are some things to do with female plumbing, especially pregnancy, which we simply can’t stomach. And so we block it out. We go into denial. We retreat to our man caves. We start wars with far-flung countries, and then we play cricket against them, preferably away matches near a beach. The idea of fully embracing the gore (yes, the magic, too, but mainly the gore, and I’m thinking here of phrases like mucus plug, or episiotomy) that’s a fundamental part of pregnancy that terrifies most men. And so we have, over the millennia, developed coping strategies. Now, you can’t unsee what your eyes have seen. But you can train your ears. The clinical term for this remarkable physiological tactic is “husband hearing”. Men, it can save your life, if not always your relationship. For example, as your wife’s pregnancy progresses, her body changes from the svelte, pert peach you married into a needy, demandingly indignant watermelon. She’ll start snoring. And farting. And peeing in the bath, though she’ll deny this. I only know it happens because the grey water from her baths nukes the plants. She’ll need 86 glasses of water a day. It’ll culminate in you having to tie her shoelaces for her, once her abdomen prevents her from bending more than three degrees in any direction. What can a man do, but filter out the hubbub? This unfortunately means that some valid requests go unheard. I mean, I keep telling my wife – once she’s asked me to do something, I’ll do it. She doesn’t have to keep reminding me every six months. If that joke fell flatter than a centipede’s eyebrows, then chances are you are married to a man who you suspect is either going deaf, or flat-out ignoring you. And, if you are pregnant, this suspicion can go into overdrive. So, for the sake of all the husbands currently sitting in the dog box, I did a little research. According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience, women’s brains contain up to 30 percent more of the “language protein”, Foxp2. This, allegedly, is why women talk more than men – up to 13 000 words a day more – according to some extremely broad gender stereotypes. And this gift of the gab starts early on. Young girls are far more likely to start talking first and use longer, more complex sentences than boys of the same age. The correct medical term for this is “chickchat”. Score one for the ladies, then. Science explains why you all talk so much. However, science continues. Research printed in the journal Psychological Science reveals that humans are better at hearing and deciphering familiar voices – for example, that of our spouse – than unfamiliar ones, and you can see why wives, especially pregnant ones, simply cannot fathom why their menfolk repeatedly appear not to have heard their requests for glasses of water, their anecdotes about cute baby outfits, or their moans about shifting pelvic girdles. Of course, your pregnant spouse is not exactly the same voice who first whispered sweet nothings into your ear. The stuff that comes out of her mouth is not exactly familiar. Hopefully this sheds some light on the dilemma. There is light at the end of the tunnel though. Apparently, as men age, this filtering ability becomes weaker and weaker. We simply cannot shut out our wife’s voice any longer. But, I get the feeling that by then, she’ll have given up all attempts to share with the hairy one in the marriage anything cute that happened in her day.
SHE’LL START SNORING, FARTING AND PEEING IN THE BATH