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I Heard You the First Time

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

When it comes to talking, I have the gift of gab. When I was in elementary school, a friend’s grandmother told me I had diarrhea of the mouth. It hurt my feelings. She wasn’t wrong. The truth can sting.

When it comes to not talking, my husband, Judah, is comfortably quiet. When at a loud party, packed with people, he can be found in the corner reading a book. It can hurt people’s feelings, communicate a lack of interest in what’s going on around him. They aren’t totally wrong. Truth is nuanced.

You see, when I am around introverts, I can feel like I have to carry the conversation. I can over-talk in an effort to keep everyone comfortable and engaged. When Judah is around a lot of people, he gets overwhelmed. He has a hard time hearing conversation with too much background noise, so he retreats into a book for safety.

We are both trying to avoid discomfort, just in different ways.

When we are alone, just the two of us, I have found myself repeating something I’ve said but using different words. After 16 years of marriage, I catch myself sooner than I used to, but it still usually takes me until the third iteration of a point before I realize: I’m saying the same thing over and over!

At the other end of the conversation, I am met with silence.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes! I got it the first time.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“I didn’t know what to say.”

“Well, say something!”

And then one day, he did.

“I acknowledge I heard what you said.”

This changed everything!

It may sound simple. Or even lackluster. But it’s honest and communicative. I don’t get swept up in the current of ridiculously repeated rhetoric, assuming I haven’t been clear. He doesn’t get drowned in a deluge of descriptives, as if lacking intellect.

He understands me, and I understand him.

We both win.

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