Questions that Aren’t Really Questions
Do you ever ask questions that are really requests, not questions? Or maybe your wife does this to you.
The other day I heard a wife ask her husband if he wanted to do something – something along the lines of “Do you want to go change your shirt” after it got a tiny bit dirty. He had already brushed his shirt off, and he said no, he did not want to change his shirt. End of subject, right? Thing is, it was clear to me his wife thought he should change his shirt. I suspect she was annoyed he did not take her “suggestion”, which is what her question actually was. If he was aware she was doing something other than asking a question, I suspect he was annoyed she did not just come out and say “I think you should change your shirt”.
Why did this woman hide her request in a question? Was she trying to manipulate, or did she think the way she put it was kinder than being blunt? Maybe she knew her husband would not want to do what she suggested, and asking it as a question made his “no” feel like less of a personal rejection. Maybe she feels unsure of herself, or maybe she was trying to help him out without starting a fight. Whatever her reason(s) she was not being open and honest, and she set up a situation where one or both of them could feel wronged.
If you think I am being too hard on this woman, realise I know I am often guilty of the very thing of which I am accusing her! I have a bad habit of doing this, especially with my lovely bride. If I ask her something and she does not do what I think she should (being honest here) it bothers me. Of course, at that point I really cannot ask her to do it, as I should have in the first place. I am not sure how I developed this habit – probably left over from my passive-aggressive days. I think it is mostly a way of expressing things I think are not fair to ask. It’s as if I am saying “I’d like you to _____ but I know asking you to do it is unfair or petty, so I’m doing it in this dishonest way.”
Having seen this so clearly in another person has forced me to look at myself and I must say I do not like what I see. I am going to stop doing this to my wife; if something really matters to me, I will ask and she can make a choice. If it is not important enough for me to ask her outright, I am going to let it go.
Do you do this? If so, I suggest you think about it, and consider changing.
Does your bride do this? Sending her this post might not be the best way to deal with it. If you know she does this, start to hear her non-question questions as what they are, and deal with them accordingly. Rather than a simple yes or no, address what it is she wants you to do or not do. Be kind about it. Don’t make a big deal of it, just address the request rather than the question. Maybe doing this will result in her changing how she speaks to you; at the very least it will mean you are talking more openly.
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