Sunday I linked to Never an Excuse, But Always A Reason from Refine Us, and last week I tweeted and facebooked a link to The Five Layers of “Why?” from Romantic Marriage. Both of these articles give us insights as to why “why” is such an important question.
In “Never an Excuse” Justin, who is talking about adultery, is clear “why” never excuses an affair – but there’s still a reason why the affair happened and the reason is important. In “Five Layers of why” Maggie shows us the first “why” – the first reason we give, is usually not the real reason. It’s not so much that the initial “why” is untrue, but there is probably another why, a reason for the first why. Dealing with the first or surface why is treating a symptom, ignoring the disease or injury. This may or may not give some short-term relief, but it’s not the way to resolve, fix, or heal. However, if you dig down the chain of why’s and get to the root problem, you can make changes that will do real, long-term good.
A few why chains to get you started:
Husband is grumpy most nights.
- Why? Unable to set down stress from work when he gets home.
- Why? He hits the house with several things screaming for his immediate attention.
- Why? The kids do not do what they should until dad makes them.
- Why? The kids do not respect mom.
- Why? Dad does not respect her, or does not ensure the kids treat her with respect.
The “blame” is passed around several times here, and ultimately comes back to the husband in this case. The good news is he has the power to change the situation, if he’s willing to do what it takes.
Wife refuses sex most of the time.
- Why? She has no interest in sex because she feels disconnected from her husband.
- Why? He has stopped trying to go on dates or make time to talk or be together non-sexually.
- Why? When he did try, she said no the vast majority of the time.
- Why? She is always busy.
- Why? She is doing too much.
- Why? ???
That sixth why could lead all kinds of places:
- She feels lazy if she is not busy.
- She’s trying to live up to an impossible standard.
- Due to low self-esteem, she can never say no.
- Her husband demands too much of her.
Here the “root fault” could be either her or him, or both. Some of the above are not yet the end of the chain, there are more why’s to consider.
Clearly, you could keep asking why to every answer. The goal of this process is to find something that can be dealt with. If your wife is willing to work through this process with you, dig for a why you both see as significant and changeable. If you have to do this on your own, look for a whys you can work on without her help.