As a perfectionist I sometimes struggle with the fact that other people are not perfect too.
My husband, for example.
He ticks a lot of boxes, but one of the things that I try to accept that he doesn’t do, without it being a sign he doesn’t love me is to show interest by asking me questions. You know, like in having a chat. He can do the How are you?, How’s your day gone? fine, and he listens and nods admirably. But then it pretty much stops. There’s no more. No more investigation or interest, whether I’m happy, sad, excited, or angry. When I mention this he says he is interested, but why doesn’t he want to find out more? (Surely I’m not that boring?!) It doesn’t seem to enter his head that he should gather information not only in order to be polite but also to share it, own it, dissect it, and then maybe – or maybe not – solve it. Which is strange you would think, since (like the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus says) his first instinct is to solve any issue, and surely information forms the basis of any good kind of problem solving. But maybe information gathering is a woman thing. The fact is that my husband acts like he missed out on the “showing interest in other people” part of the social skills curriculum at the school of life. Is this a subject that only women learn? I know we are the best at it, but I kind of thought men did it too though perhaps in a less skilled way.* It seems that my husband does not. My daughter, however, could already pass with an A+, as we discovered last week.
We were having a ‘celebration’ with the kids. This is a family tradition on a Friday where we have a drink and some snacks together and talk about our week. Last week we all talked about what we were proud of. When it was my turn I said that I was really excited because I had set up a survey on the web and I that 32 women had completed the survey so far – in only 2 days. My six-year-old daughter immediately started asking loads of questions in a really animated way, using her hands and body and tone of voice to communicate her excitement, support and interest in my survey. “So what kind of questions did you ask?” “What did they say to that question?” “How many people want to join your club etc.” “When are you going to run the first one?” She chatted like an expert and we had a lovely little conversation about it. It was my husband who pointed out later that it must be a girl thing, this asking questions business, and perhaps he should take lessons from her. Maybe it’s true. She doesn’t get to see me chatting to my girlfriends any more than my sons do, yet here she is asking all the questions in the way a best friend does.
*I know I’m generalising here, and accept that some men are wizards at discussing people and feelings, and some women are awful at it, but generally…you know what I mean.