The Big Why

A few days ago, someone mentioned an old Generous Husband post entitled The Big Why. I thought it would be good to rewrite it for this blog.

WHY? © enterlinedesign |

Most people understand that why something is said or done is important. What we often miss is how far the why goes. The surface why is often (usually) not the real issue. The person giving the why may think it’s the real issue, or they may know it’s not. Either way, if you address the surface why they have little chance of dealing with the real issue.

For example:

  1. Husband and wife go to an event. He hates it, and says so all the way home.
  2. When asked why he hated it, he gives all kinds of answers, most of which are clearly garbage.
  3. The real why is he wanted to stay home and watch his team play. 

Discussing all the reasons he gives for not liking the event is a waste of time because the real issue is he felt pushed into going when he didn’t want to.  The real issue, the important why, is why he felt pushed into going. Had he made a loving choice to go rather than stay home he wouldn’t be upset. He’s upset because he felt compelled by his wife or his own thoughts to do something he did not want to do.

I think this problem is much more difficult to sort out with men because we tend to be less in touch with our feelings. We may not know the real why, and we may not like our wife trying to dig for it. Just leave us alone and let us be grumpy is our attitude.

I don’t recommend leaving him along to be grumpy as it solves nothing. However, waiting till he’s not grumpy might be wise. Ask questions, and if you suspect there’s something else going on ask questions designed to dig out the real why.

Of course, this works better if you want to know the real why, and are willing to deal with it. If he suspects you don’t want to know or will not address the real issue, he will resist you getting there.

And yes, his real why may come down to sex more often than you would like. If you don’t want to hear about sex you may not. Thing is you can’t deal with it if you don’t hear it.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I appreciate my wife’s skill at getting to the real why.

Follow Up: Chris, over at The Forgiven Wife, wrote a post which would have been a great addition to my Not Enjoying Sex as Control post – had I seen it in time. Go check out Why I Have Sex When I’m Upset with My Husband

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4 Comments on “The Big Why

  1. Why is such a very interesting question. If the answer is relatively simple, why is an awesome question. You may know this, but in my work, we are really big on trying to troubleshoot why certain errors get into the product — root cause analysis. The simplest form of RCA is asking why five times… “Why did this fail? The test missed it. Why did the test miss it? The software was delivered too late. Why was the software delivered late…?” And so on.

    If it’s something diagnosable, a kind of root cause analysis can be useful for identifying the underlying problem and addressing it. (“Oh, you had a miserable night because you hate folk music. Noted!”)

    But I’ve noticed with some issues, there is no answer to the “why.” The question is just there. And continually asking myself why didn’t yield any answers — it only kept the question living.

    • @sunny-dee RCA is a new term, and a good one, thanks.
      I agree there are situations where there is no answer to why, or at least not one we can comprehend. Learning to be okay with not knowing is a good skill to develop!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…A Public BlessingMy Profile

  2. Could this be the reason my husband is so grumpy about spending time with my family? He is not a grumpy person, but I honestly cannot remember a single time that we have spent time with my family without him being grumpy both before and after. For example, we have an important family wedding out of town this weekend and he has done nothing but complain about how expensive the baby sitter is going to be (so much so my parents offered to pay) and how it sucks that it is on Father’s Day weekend so he can’t even have a relaxing day with his family because we will be traveling, etc etc. Is it just that he would rather do anything else than spend time with my family, even though he won’t come out and say that? Like I am high-jacking his weekend by forcing him to go to a wedding (that is extremely important to me)?

    I do think I need to draw his attention to this grumpiness surrounding my family, however. It is a pattern. And it is so hurtful. I don’t think he realizes that it feels to me like a rejection of my family, and a rejection of my family is basically a rejection of me too. I can’t make him like my family, but it is still important to spend time with them on rare occasions and I don’t think it is too much to ask that he stop being so grumpy about it. We see my family maybe three times a year (and his almost every day).

    • @Kay – Given what you’ve said I think you have nailed it. He may or may not have made the connection – it’s amazing how blind we can be to our own motivations and actions.

      I would address it with him – after the wedding. Maybe start with more general questions about how he feels about your family, then mention his out of character grumpiness related to spending time with them.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…One Thing at A TimeMy Profile

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