My fiancé Steve and I see the world differently. He likes to tell the story of how, when we were trying to remember whose toothbrush was whose, he determined ownership by recalling his brush was on the left, mine on the right, whereas I identified our respective implements by color: his green, mine blue. A similar scenario occurred trying to recall which mug belonged to whom—I checked the colors of the teabag tags, remembering Earl Grey was yellow, English Breakfast red, while he’d noted he’d placed his mug to the left. He relies on spatial relationships for identification and cueing. I inevitably register color first.
The point here isn’t that we middle-aged folk keep forgetting things; the point is the differences in how our brains work. Steve has a mathematical, map-guy mind that tends toward a linear, laser-point focus; I’m a creative, crafty type, with a heightened aesthetic awareness, my attentions more diffuse. More than once while traveling, we’ve passed some wacky, hard-to-miss building or sign, or a group of deer hovering on the side of the highway. Each time, Steve was so focused on the road in front of him that he missed anything not represented on the GPS. (Note: generally speaking, a driver’s ability to keep eyes on the road is a plus!) And of course, there’s shopping: if Steve’s targeting shirts, he looks at shirts, and nothing else registers. I am almost incapable of filtering out all the pretty items on the periphery, especially those in my favorite colors.
Our minds clearly process information in wildly different ways, and while this is true for all couples to some degree, our obvious disparity carries the distinct benefit of preventing romantic relationship pitfall #11: believing that true love creates magical mind-reading powers.
To whit: we don’t even see our toothbrushes the same way. Any expectation that the other could consistently and accurately conjure up (and then fulfill) our deepest thoughts and desires borders on absurdity.
But it’s good intel. Because that knowledge reinforces the importance of romantic relationship lesson #23: you have to ask for what you want. Continue reading