I love quiet.
My idea of background noise is birds and crickets and children laughing. I like to read in silence, write in silence, daydream in silence. I like to talk to my friends with nary a sound in the background.
If I feel like listening to music, I turn on the radio, but usually I don’t. Not even in the car.
My husband always wants the radio or tv on, no matter what he is doing. He likes a background of words, spoken or sung, even though he says he tunes it out and doesn’t hear the words.
I don’t know how he does it. The words invade my own thoughts. I find myself distracted by lyrics even when I don’t like them, especially when I don’t like them.
(One day he had the radio on while we were working on a project, and after about half an hour I asked, “Is every song this DJ plays about drugs?” He had not noticed, but sure enough, several songs later, he concurred that, yes, it seemed to be a show entirely devoted to singing about drug usage. He changed the station for me.)
In the car, I’ll be looking out the window, enjoying a feeling of quiet companionship, and he’ll turn on talk radio to fill the silence.
For me, talk radio is as pleasant as being seated next to a screaming baby on an airplane. He remembers this after a moment and switches to a music station.
Most of the time, I’m able to tolerate background noise, which is what it is to me, noise. I know to him, it is not noise. It is soothing in a way I don’t experience, but I understand that it is to others.
If I find his selection abrasive, I’ll request that he change the radio station. Sometimes I do sigh irritably and scowl as yet another youtube video invades my auditory space. Sometimes I just leave the room and find a quiet spot. Mostly, I try to ignore it.
The only time I find myself feeling indignant is if he walks into the room where I am reading and turns on the radio or tv. I would not walk into a room where other people were listening to the radio and turn it off. That would be startlingly rude, wouldn’t it? But somehow, doing the opposite is accepted as normal.
I don’t believe his love of background sound gives him greater rights. I don’t think my love of silence is more virtuous. They are just different.
My husband and I have accepted that my preference for quiet is no more likely to change than his preference for life with a soundrack. He’s willing to change stations or lower the volume. Lately, he often asks if I have a preference in spotify stations; he gets the sound he craves, but I can make sure it is something that won’t grate on my nerves.
It’s a good compromise. When he is away, I even find myself occasionally thinking that the house is too quiet without him.
How do you feel about tv or radio in the background? Music or talk radio?