By Mark Salamon, May 1, 2019
Like most males, I occasionally suffer from episodes when I can physically not hear the sound of my wife’s voice, even when I can hear other sounds. This has been happening two or three times per week for the last twenty-five years. I am quite certain that nothing I have said so far seems alarming or unusual to anyone.
What would be alarming and unusual would be if my wife could not hear the sound of my voice. My wife hears absolutely everything I say at all times. She even hears things that I am thinking about saying but haven’t actually said yet. And if we go to a restaurant, she not only hears everything I say, but everything everyone at all the other tables are saying AT THE EXACT SAME TIME.
This disparity in our abilities was a source of constant frustration for both of us (ok, mainly her) until we studied the biology of the situation. It turns out that genetically, women are better than men at three specific things:
- Everything else
So once we established that evolutionary biology was to blame, she was much more forgiving in situations like the following: (This is absolutely a true story.) We were having a conversation at the grocery store when I started to pick out bananas. She continued to talk, and after about ten seconds I had to ask her to hold her thought because while I was focusing on which bananas to pick out, I honestly could not hear her talking.
Now don’t tell me you don’t know how much concentration it takes to pick out just the right bananas. Biologically, men are hard-wired to focus all of their attention on one task at a time, so I was literally trapped in a brain that would not allow me to think about anything except going home with a cluster of bananas of perfect size and level of ripeness.
As you can imagine, my wife has still not stopped laughing at that one, because it takes a whole lot more than bananas to interrupt female hearing. But it does, on occasion, happen, according to a recent news report about a woman in China who was diagnosed with a rare medical condition called reverse-slope hearing loss, which caused her to be unable to hear the sound of her boyfriend’s voice, even though she could still hear other sounds. (1)
Most of us will never witness this phenomena. The journalists who broke this story waited years for the chance to hop a plane at a moment’s notice and travel halfway around the world to see it happen to one woman, one time. So to all you men out there waiting to catch your wife not hearing something, don’t hold your breath.