CHICK CHAT

Your hus­band isn’t ig­nor­ing you, nor is he go­ing deaf. He’s sim­ply a prod­uct of evo­lu­tion­ary sur­vival strate­gies

Your Pregnancy - - Last Laugh - BY CRAIG BISHOP

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

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