Submitted Date 03/07/2019

The following is a situation that many of us have been in before. I’ve written about it in the third person so you can take yourself out of the story and try to get a more birds-eye-view. At the end of the story, we’ll explore a helpful solution for nipping this unhappy flower in the proverbial bud.

Late to Work

James arrived at the office around five minutes late, skirting his way around the door of his boss. Unfortunately, even though Peter was on the phone, he still caught a glimpse of James walking by, coffee in hand and trying to look nonchalant as he made his way to his desk. Peter raised his finger in a gesture that was half welcome and half admonition…and James knew there would be a meeting later.

James grimaced with frustration at how his wife had done this to him…again.

On his way to work, James’ wife Patricia had started blowing up his phone with text messages. Not wanting to read them while driving, James had pulled over at a gas station, but even while he was trying to make sense of them, more kept coming in. Something about the washing machine being broken, and how there had been signs of this coming last week, and so on.

James had swiped over to the recent caller list and tapped Patricia’s name with his thumb, giving her call. He gritted his teeth as they talked, trying to be patient, but at the end of the conversation he had blown up.

“Patty, this is not something you need to call me for. You can use one of the credit cards to pay for a mechanic to come out and take a look at the washer.”

“But what if we can’t fix it? What if we need another one?”

“We can talk about that later…I’ve got to go.”

There was silence on the other end of the line, a puff of air, and then a click.

“What the…” James had let out a string of expletives as he looked at the clock on the dashboard, realizing he would be late.

I had trouble reaching you on your cell phone, so…

Now, as he stepped into his office, he saw that his desk phone was blinking with a message.

He logged on to his computer and read a transcription of the voicemail. It was Patty again. She wanted to know where the credit card was.

“It’s in the same place it was last time…the same place it always is…in the drawer of the small table by the door,” James grumbled.

James sighed and dropped his head into his hands. Why couldn’t his wife leave him alone at work?

He glanced up and read the end of the transcript: I thought your phone was off. James glanced down at the phone and saw that indeed, Patty had tried to call him two times since their previous conversation.

“Knock, knock,” Peter said, as he tapped his knuckles on the door. “Hey James, just wanted to check in,” he continued, stepping in. “May I close the door?”

“Sure thing,” James said, swiveling his chair to face his boss and closing the screen with message from his wife.

“James,” Peter began, sitting down in the chair by the desk. “I’ve noticed you’ve been like, fifteen minutes late at least a few days every week for the past month. What’s going on?”

James was a at a loss for words. How could he explain all this?

“I don’t know what to say, Peter. My wife…she keeps calling me on my way to work.”

Peter took a sip of his coffee and smiled.

“I totally understand. Trust me, I know,” he said, rolling his eyes. “But I still can’t take that as an excuse…maybe you need to leave the house earlier or something. Whatever you’ve got to do, do it James, because I can’t have you coming in late. I need you here. Okay?”

Peter got up as James nodded. No threats, no ultimatums…but James didn’t want to get on the bad side of his boss.

Does she know when to stop?

James moved through the morning answering a few emails, calling a few clients, and doing a little bit of research for an upcoming presentation that afternoon.

Patty texted him a few times, but each time he took a glance at the message and then turned the phone upside down. When he felt like taking a quick peek at his personal email or Facebook page, he would pick up the phone again and shoot of a one-line message like “okay” or “yes.” Anything to get her to stop.

After lunch he started to review the slides for the meeting. As he was going through them, Patty called.

James gritted his teeth and spun the phone around, contemplating what exactly he could do to get his wife to stop contacting him at work.

The Grand Finale

Suddenly it was 3:00…time for the meeting. James logged off his computer and headed to the conference room, absentmindedly dropping the phone into his pocket and forgetting that he had left it on ring.

The meeting was going as planned, and James stood up to start the presentation.

“Thanks everyone for coming today,” he began. “I want to start by looking at some of the numbers from last quarter from each one of the regional sales teams, and then move into a comparison of a few different categories. From the trends we’re seeing, I’d make a few recommendations about how to change some of the wording in the sales script that we’re currently using.”

The other employees at the table locked eyes on the well-prepared slides James had put together. He made his way through the presentation, and was just about to get to the final slide summarizing the key takeaways, when his phone rang.

James felt his heart drop into his stomach. Not only was Peter, his boss, at this meeting, but Peter’s boss was Skyped in, and Peter’s boss’s boss would be watching a recording of this meeting later today.

“Sorry about that,” James said, his voice a little shaky with embarrassment and frustration. He reached into his pocket to turn off the ringer, and saw that it was Patty (surprise) who had called him again.

“No problem. James,” Peter smiled.

James regrouped and finished the presentation. After the meeting, Peter patted him on the back and commented that the whole thing was really well done.

As James stepped into his car, he whipped out his phone and checked his voicemail. Patty had called about the washing machine again, and what the mechanic had found…basically everything he could have waited to hear when he got home.

He clutched his heads in his hands and let out a brief scream before starting the car. As he drove, he blared some music that would hopefully wash away the daily memory of his wife bothering him at work all day with trivial things.

The worst part was he knew that this would continue tomorrow and the day after…

What could James do?

Many of us have been in a situation like this. Our wives call or email or message us at work, or while we’re hanging out with our friends.

Usually we try to deal with it by shooting off one-word answers, ignoring them, or having impatient conversations that are short, sweet, and to the point. These things don’t really seem to work, do they?

If we took a look at the bigger picture, we would see that something very obvious is going on.

Our wives are telling us that we’re not giving them enough attention.

To make up for it, they’re bothering us in any and every way possible until we do.

Everybody needs attention. Some people need it more than others. Wives especially like to have attention from their husbands, and will do anything to get it. If you try to fight that, they’ll fight back.

So why not give them what they want?

Amazingly, you’ll find that if you do, they’ll contact you at inconvenient times less and less. They know that you’re already giving them attention, so they won’t feel the need to fight for it.

Just think: if you’ve ever been infatuated with someone (like, perhaps your wife at some previous point) you probably wanted to be in touch with them as frequently as possible. Maybe your heart skipped a beat when they sent you a message or email.

Now that you’ve been married, perhaps the charm of that has worn off…especially because when men get in the “zone” (like while working on something) we don’t like to be bothered.

But the charm probably hasn’t worn off for your wife, and as a woman, she usually dwells in the mental space of your relationship (even if she’s doing other tasks).

Whenever she gets a text message, email, or phone call from you, it makes her extremely happy.

Try it out!

Send your wife a text message a few times a day, saying that you love her and you’re thinking of her. Before she calls you, call her to see how her day is going. On your way home, pick up a small gift for her.

Miraculously (and contrary to what you might expect) she will actually start contacting you less, because you’ve shown here that she doesn’t need to compete with work or friends in order to have a place in your heart.

If you’re a married man and interested in more tips to improve your relationship with your wife, check out my 40-day marriage improvement program at 40daymarriageplan.com.

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  • Kim Rammien 4 years, 2 months ago

    Ladies. We all know this works both ways! I've been called from the mall with the question: "What size pants do I wear?" My response: "Are you wearing pants? They have a tag with the size but you're a 33x30". I think the premise of this article that a spouse/SO may be reaching out for attention by blowing up your phone is great. The delivery, however, is a bit 1950's. Ouch!

  • Nina Appasamy 4 years, 2 months ago

    I agree with Kim's comment about the 1950's tone of your piece. It was a bit uncomfortable with it because you made it sound as though making it women are little, whiney burdens who can't handle direct communication. It also leaves out the fact that men also text frequently. Excessive texting and calling are not gender-exclusive habits. Frankly, I think the best and simplest solution, aside from making sure you are providing your spouse/partner with the proper amount of attention, is to just tell them to stop texting. I don't text very much, but I know people who do. If something your spouse/partner is doing is that bothersome, just tell them; open and honest communication is a key to a successful relationship. Writing about it on the internet and making it seem as though they are whiney little kids is quite passive-aggressive and will only serve to hurt your relationship and indicate to readers that you are misogynistic. Another option would be to simply turn off your phone when you're at work. I usually turn off my phone in class, and I always turn it off at night.

  • Charles Hanna 4 years, 2 months ago

    Nice, sounds like you both really understand the science of relationships! I look forward to your comments on the next article I post on this topic.

  • No name 4 years, 1 month ago

    "pay attention to your spouse" shouldn't be advice people have to give lol.

  • Miranda Fotia 4 years ago

    So, I see your catching some heat for this LOL! I think the advice is solid when dealing with an insecure spouse. It would probably be less offensive if you said "partner" instead of wife, unless the piece is only directed toward men. If so, you would probably get less criticism if you state that it is a guide for husbands. I can tell you don't mean to sound misogynistic and I don't get that vibe from your other pieces. Just a few adjustments to this one and I think it will get a better response.