First task on list: Con­front the ne­glect

The Washington Post - - TELEVISION - Carolyn Hax

Hi, Carolyn: 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 ear buds 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 ear buds. 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 Sad: 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 ear buds 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 af­ter­dinner 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. Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@wash­post.com. Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at wapo.st/hax­post. Join the dis­cus­sion live at noon Fri­days at live.wash­ing­ton­post.com

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