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Is My Spouse Really Not Interested in My Day?

If you often feel ignored by your husband or wife, it might be because you married someone for whom curiosity feels wrong.

Curiosity is one of the 24 character strengths studied in the Values in Action (VIA) study. This means a large panel of psychologists, historians, sociologists, philosophers, and other researchers found it to be valued across most cultures throughout recorded history around the globe.

It's a good thing. We honor explorers. We praise those who invented the things we now cannot live without and the scientists who discovered things we're so glad to know. We may take a while to come around, but we know it is the curious among our artists that keep the arts moving forward.

But curiosity competes with other current American values, like our cherished right to privacy. Many of us hear "keep your nose out of other people's business" throughout our childhoods. It competes with being a team player. Teams stick to what works for the team and don't go "looking for trouble." It also competes with our concern for our children's safety, so we tell them "curiosity killed the cat." Not just an animal with one life like us, but one with nine lives!

So, depending on the balance of messages in your mate's childhood, you may be married to someone with little curiosity, either in general or for other people's business. I am. And that's fine, unless you grew up in a home where interest in what you've been up to or what you're feeling was a way of showing love.

Falling in love seems to make everyone curious about the new person in their lives. But for those who are not very curious or who have been repeatedly chastised for their curiosity, it can fade pretty quickly. You may not miss it until something else makes you fear love is fading. Before you buy your own story about your spouse's feelings, do a quick check for other evidence of general or people-specific curiosity.

If you are married to someone who is not very curious, then not asking about your day, even when you had something big expected today, is not evidence anything's wrong with your marriage or your spouse.

When you have an interesting story you're dying to tell, try an upbeat "ask me about my day" or "ask me how I feel about this" instead of waiting in agony to be asked. Because it's quite likely you are still loved, just by someone who approaches loves a bit differently than you do.

How about you? How curious are you about your spouse's day? Do you wish your husband or wife was more curious about yours?

Comments

Your observations about what people learned in childhood are right on. In my childhood, both in my home and at school, "interest in what you've been up" had less to do with showing love and more to do with control. A chance for the overbearing schoolmistress to chastise you for doing the wrong thing or being in the wrong place. A chance for the parent to lecture you on what you should have done instead. Certainly, one could argue that these adults had our best interests at heart and were only trying to teach us to make better choices. That may be so. (Or they may have just been control freaks.) But it left me feeling that someone who asks questions has an ulterior motive. It took me a while to get over that and just appreciate people's interest in me. In the meantime, I hesitated to ask too many questions, lest I seem to be prying, controlling, judging, etc. I didn't lack interest, but I figured that if people wanted me to know something, they would tell me. I had to learn to be comfortable with expressing interest and asking friendly follow-up questions.

It's easy to see how two people with different feelings about curiosity could both be showing respect for the other, yet both misinterpret each other's intentions.

Now, of course, I want my husband to be interested in my day and I am interested in his, and we are both okay either with asking and answering or with spontaneously telling the tale.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Rosemary. May your story help someone finally understand the person they married.

On the off times where I do forget to ask my wife how her day was, it's usually because I'm so immersed in my own head talk.

I think it's more about having a pulse check with your spouse and knowing where you stand emotionally. The small talk, in my humble opinion, comes secondary.

Thanks, Jason.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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