“Oh! Sorry, honey. I’ll empty the trash when I get back from golf with the boys!”
He forgot. Again.
…And she’s wondering if maybe she just might forget about dinner tonight.
Have you or your partner been having more memory slips than usual? I know. It’s annoying, but, essentially harm-less age-related memory impairment is common. In a recent article in Harvard Men’s Health Watch, Dr. David Hsu, geriatric psychiatrist with the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggested several things that could cause brief lapses of memory.
Simple fatigue can dull your memory. Medications can affect memory – especially those that cause sedation. There is no question that lack of restful sleep can also make you more forgetful. It’s obvious that a physical workout that gets your heart pumping and oxygen-rich blood flowing to the brain leaves you alert and mentally sharper. Too much stress at work or at home can have a big impact on memory. Memory impairment is a common symptom of clinical depression, along with sadness, lack of drive, poor concentration, and less pleasure in things that you ordinarily enjoyed. Alcohol reduces memory performance.
If you or your partner are having more of these moments than you used to, consider this a wake-up call that you should take stock of your lifestyle. In a marriage, the common symptoms of the disorder – distraction, disorganization, forgetfulness – can easily be misinterpreted as laziness, selfishness, and a lack of love and concern. A.D.H.D. (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or other attention disorders can cause a major disruption in your relationship. Everyone, at any age, forgets, however if you believe that memory lapses may signify that you have an underlying disease, then you might consider consulting a neuropsychologist.
Dr. Hsu notes that a perceived change in your memory performance may simply be due to the well-documented slowdown in thinking speed with aging.
I thought I would get all the excuses that could be used (medical issues above) so we can focus on what is really going on when your partner forgets to remember.
So, if you’ve seen your doctor and it’s not a medical problem… what is it?
Not remembering things that are important to your partner is rude and demonstrates a serious lack of interest.
Audioapathy is a word I coined to describe the condition often experienced when partners become apathetic about listening when their partner talks with them. It is a dreaded dis-ease that can poison your relationship. Although it appears that men are more affected than women, some women also get it. Ineffective communication can make us sad, resentful, upset, angry and more. You must first listen to the things your partner deems important before you can remember them later.
And then there are those who are so embroiled in their everyday life that they seem to have forgotten that for a “healthy” relationship to work, they must pay attention to it. Some have given up and just don’t care anymore.
The next time your partner wants to talk, stop whatever you are doing – turn off the TV and your smart phone – and make time to listen. It shows interest in the one you love. Don’t interrupt. Avoid distractions. Maintain eye contact. Nod your head. Never challenge your partner’s assumptions. Listening demonstrates respect. Listen with the intention of really hearing what they are saying. Be patient and understanding. This kind of active listening ensures that you are truly listening to the words that are being spoken.
Listen for ways you can remember the things that are important to them. Pay attention. Be mindful, not mindless. Never fall back on the excuse that you are having a “senior moment.” Listen. If you are together shopping and she says things like, “That is so pretty. That would go great on the mantle,” and she doesn’t buy it, go back later and buy it for her and surprise her with it later. Make notes if you must, but never let the things that are important to your partner and your relationship be forgotten, e.g., birthdays, anniversaries and any other important dates. Plan ahead. No more memory-slips.
If you are the spouse of a memory-slipper, be patient. It could be a medical issue, and he/she may need your understanding and you assistance in helping them to remember. “I shouldn’t have to remind him of my birthday!” You’re right and anything more that a quiet conversation letting him know how this causes you to feel is called, nagging!
If an entire day has passed without your husband wishing you “Happy Birthday,” decide to bring it up. It may be tempting to hold on to your pride and keep the hurt within. But instead of lessening the misery, this will only lead to a festering of resentment till the relationship explodes in both of your faces. So choose a quiet time with your husband and ask why he forgot your birthday. And then depending on his response, take it from there.
BONUS Article: Attention Disorders Can Take a Toll on Marriage
Copyright © 2015 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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