The problem: I cannot figure out if I am getting extremely forgetful (i.e. senile) or if my husband is. On many occasions, he’ll say, “I told you that — don’t you remember?” I swear that he did not tell me. How do I prove that he isn’t recounting to me everything he says he is? I’m starting to think I’m starring in the 1940s movie “Gaslight,” about a woman whose husband slowly manipulates her until she thinks she’s going crazy.
Low road: Call in Scotland Yard and have that man arrested.
High road: While that is what happened in the American thriller you mention, something far less dramatic is likely going on. It’s called “aging.” I tell the same stories all the time, often unaware that I’m being deadly redundant. But I’ve wisely picked friends older than me, so they don’t remember hearing them.
You are right, most of the time. Sometimes, distracted him probably forgets that the receiver wasn’t you; it was a workmate or someone standing next to him at the grocery store. And, sometimes, busy you probably does forget what he tells you. The question isn’t how to prove him wrong. To do that, you could record your conversations, but that’s a dangerous path down which you don’t want to walk. You want him to understand that he’s making you feel bad, incompetent or spacey and — listen up! — less likely to want to engage with him.
The next time he tries the here-I-go-again routine, enthusiastically tell him that his stories are so interesting you’d never forget them. But you do wonder who heard first that the Petersons are splitting up. You won’t have to hire a sleuth to suss that out. He’ll get the message.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.