“Is it important? Yes? Then don’t text me.”

I’ve instituted a new rule in my house. You’re welcome to copy it. It might save your marriage. It is thus:


This is my compromise on the rule that I initially proposed, which was the draconian:


This is because—ready? Revolutionary!—we do not speak the same texting language. AT all

Example A:

I’m working out of the house. Ping.

Sean: We are out of milk.

My reaction: Why the fuck are you interrupting my work flow with this inanity? (I don’t text it. But I THINK it.)

What he meant:

“We’re out of milk; could you pick some up on your way home?”

My reaction to which would have been:


But instead I’m pissed, my flow disrupted, and I wonder why I didn’t turn off the phone?

Example B:

I am out in the wild with the children and I see something beautiful-ugly-heartbreaking and I take a photo and I send it. Ping.

Jane: [Image]. Heart-broken. Sobbing. Despair.

Sean: WTF? Are you ok? What happened?

What he wishes I had said:

“Look at this disturbing picture of [X] I took. Doesn’t it make you think of heart-break? Despair? It is so evocative!”

What I want him to say in response to what I actually said (didn’t say, implied, experienced, tried to convey with fragmented words):

“God. Baby. Beautiful. I love you.”

Example C:

Jane: 2 out of 3 of our children want to go swimming and I’m going to force the other child to cooperate. Should we wait until you get back home so we can go together?

Sean: Walking from Bridgeland to downtown. PS Forgot to take out the steaks to defrost.

Jane: Does not answer my question.

Sean: I also have to go print photos after.

Jane: You! Still! Have! Not! Answered! My! Question!

But he thinks he has…

Right? He’s said:

“Here are all the things I’m doing and have to do.”

But he hasn’t said, what I need to hear, which is:

“There is no way I will make it back in time, go without me.”

Or even, you know, I’ll accept this:

“I really don’t want to go swimming. Just go with the kids; I’ll see you at home later.”

Dedicated to that girl I love, so far away now. You know who you are. Who insisted I should get a cell phone. And ruined my life. ;P

(Not really. But. Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back? I do…)

nbtb-is it important don't text me



9 thoughts on ““Is it important? Yes? Then don’t text me.”

  1. texts in our home are akin to rolling paper, placing in bottle and chucking bottle in ocean. A response is nice and in most cases, would save a life but really, should never be expected. My wife, like you, doesn’t want to be disturbed and I, like you, like my autonomy. Smartphones are really just digital versions of the new yorker…great things for the crapper and mostly disposable.

  2. Example D:
    Sean: I’m at Costco. Do you need any nuts?
    Jane: Cashews, please.
    Sean: That’s a nice point of information.
    Jane: It fucking isn’t.
    Sean: At no point did you say, “Buy me cashews while you’re at Costco.”
    Jane: So you read my blog today, huh?
    Sean: Heartbreak. Despair. Sob.
    Jane: Baby. Beautiful. I love you. Now buy me the goddamn cashews. Also detergent, kale, and kimchi.

    My friend the linguistic anthropologist says this communication style misfit is partially the result of him being Canadian, and me being mostly not. I think it’s because I place a high value on saying precisely what you mean-want. She says that’s impossible, because everything we ever communicate to another occurs through layers upon layers of filters we know nothing about… so we can never HEAR what the other person thinks she’s SAID.

    Moral of the story: We should all just stop talking to each other.

Made you think? Made you laugh? Made you scream? Tell me.

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