I wish I could consistently think before I speak, or at least pause and consider the timing of what is on the tip of my tongue. Maybe biting my tongue would help. But if I did that as often as needed, I would not have a tongue. That might make my wife happy, but it would make it hard for me to taste my food.

We ate out last Saturday night and were seated on a patio very close to a table of heavy drinkers who were loud talkers. They were louder than the traffic nearby. The more they consumed, the more they cranked up the volume of their chatter. Our table was so close theirs that we were, in effect, sitting at their table, exposed to the nonsense that seemed to amuse them. I was annoyed, distracted, and barely able to hear my wife.

Normally, it is more noble not to have heard your wife than not to have listened to her. But on that night, hearing proved to be the bigger problem.

The waitress came to the table to ask if we wanted dessert (I’m lactose intolerant and never order dessert). I didn’t hear my wife’s answer. As the waitress was walking away, I asked my wife if she ordered dessert. Her judgment detector heard this: “Why are you adding more calories when you are on the Adkins diet?”

“Why did you ask if I was ordering a dessert?” she asked me later. “Why was that important to you?” I told her that it actually wasn’t important to me. “Then why did you ask?” Now here is the part in a conversation that stumps the partner with ADHD. I honestly didn’t know why I asked. I paused to contemplate the question. I wanted to give her an honest answer. Being unable to provide a quick and succinct response was all the evidence she needed to conclude that I was not being honest.

Next time, I will just smile, take her hand, and ask if she is enjoying the evening. But even if I had done that Saturday night, on that noisy patio, she wouldn’t have heard me, and she would have thought this: “He is taking my right hand so I cannot grasp my my fork…he is trying to distract me with a cheap smile…and now he has the nerve to ask if I am enjoying the eating.”

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