Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Further lessons in communication

The household is a little closer to complete.  We have TV.

We’ve been in this house for six months and the TV is finally working properly, through a newly effective connection to the antenna on the roof.  Setting up the TV is one of the things I like to get done on the first day of a move, so having this fixed feels like another “moving in” step to me.

It’s also a kind of freedom.  For the last six months we’ve had to either settle for whatever had a clear channel or switch off.  Now all the channels are there, and we can choose whether or not to watch them.

Having good signals on all channels means the TiVo is now working properly, too.  So, after dinner last night, and having surfed through the live-to-air offerings, Mrs G watched some episodes of shows recorded on the night before we moved out of our house in Canberra.

A little while into Castle (ca November 2011) I pointed out that she could have watched this at any time in the preceding six months – why wait till now?

Several significant moments of silence later I discovered that “But I thought you knew that!” was not an acceptable explanation for not having mentioned this before.  Nor were any of the range of increasingly short variations on that theme that I then attempted to deliver.

No, my duty, from the beginning, was to ensure that Mrs G clearly understood that her most loved shows on the TiVo could be watched regardless of whether the broadcast signal was strong enough to allow the device to record any new ones.

After 16 years together we have an expectation that our communication should be pretty fool-proof, so it seems more unsettling than it really should when our conversations are revealed to have a fool on at least one end.

When you’re young and infatuated it’s really easy to let a lot of the mis-cues slide by.  You’re in crazy-love world: you’re well motivated to make things work, and if that means tolerating stuff you wouldn’t take from anyone else (and making sure it doesn’t happen again!), you do it.  Through infinite iterations you should, over time, be able to refine your signals so that everything is clear and nobody misunderstands anything.  In a wholly rational world the experience of saying “but I thought you meant …” should all but disappear as a couple ply their way through the years.

But we’re human, Mrs G and I.  Although our misunderstandings are certainly less frequent, they remain a stubborn part of our discourse.  They happen because the quality of our communication isn’t always our primary concern; because sometimes we refuse to admit that we don’t understand;  because sometimes we have our attention divided.

Sometimes we just forget that setting up the audio-visual equipment is not within our partner’s experience or duties, and we assume details are understood which just aren’t.

It’s tempting to think that the “wholly rational world” version of things would work.  No misunderstandings.  Peace and harmony, victorious.

That would probably be pretty boring.

Eliminating the misunderstandings is not the key.  Like I said before, it’s easier to forgive when you’re infatuated, so perhaps it’s better to just keep some romance in your life.  There’s no harm in that, and it's a lot more fun.


  1. Glenn, 24 hours ago we lost analogue TV forever, and tonight's husband/wife conversation was so like the one you've reported it beggars belief. "But I put a tape in the VCR last night to record and it's blank!". "The VCR can't record anything anymore, there's no analogue signal". "But I recorded stuff last week. Now I can't watch it!"... I think being in the moment when explaining things is the most enviable talent, and I'm in awe of those who have it.

  2. Yes, well part of our problem has been that analogue TV disappeared from Bendigo sometime in the last few years, and the previous owners of the house seem to have had satellite, so they weren't really using the antenna and didn't notice the problem, therefore didn't do anything about it. Hey, now the TV doesn't even waver when a freight train goes past! Cool!

    1. Too bad there aren't any Tyrannosaurus Rex to turn loose to give your TV the ultimate test!


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