How You Ask the Question

How we ask questions makes a big difference. Asking “Are you stupid?” is a good example. No one responds well to such a “question” and nothing good comes of it. “Why did you do that?” is better, especially if you avoid the “are you stupid” tone of voice. But it’s still confrontational.

Wife with Questions © lenets_tan |

Questions That Aren’t Questions

Of course “Are you stupid” isn’t really a question – it’s an expression of frustration or anger. It’s not questioning the other person’s intelligence, it’s saying you think they are stupid. Maybe we think it’s less rude because we don’t actually say “you’re stupid” but the end result is the same. Overall I see this more from women, but I see is from passive/aggressive men too.

Regardless of who does it, it’s not a good plan. It does nothing to aid communication, and it certainly does nothing to build the relationship. 

What do You Want to Know?

Questions should be used to gain information. When this is the goal, the crafting of the question is important.

  • What do you really want to know?
  • Do you want to understand on a deep level, or are you looking for some surface proof your husband has not lost his last marble? (Both may be valid, but which are you asking?)
  • Are you looking to learn, or to start an argument?
  • Have you asked this before? Have you asked it many times? Don’t expect a new answer to an old question. If you want a different/better answer, ask a different/better question.

Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?

Avoid trap questions. Also, avoid leading questions. An open-ended question is the best option unless something really is a yes or no issue. Multiple choice is okay as long as you make it clear “none of the above” is acceptable.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’ve said some rude things to my wife in the form of “questions”. 

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2 Comments on “How You Ask the Question

  1. Oh, I used to either ask vague questions to feel him out, OR I wouldn’t even ask questions but just make a statement and see how he responded. Then I would make assumptions based on that response about how he felt about things. BAD idea. Both of us are terrible about making assumptions about the other. Some of them have surfaced and the offended spouse would be aghast that the other thought that way about them. My husband has told me, “I am not your dad.” And I have told him, “I am not your mom.”

    One of the reasons we both acted this way is because the other was immature at receiving direct questions and very immature at handling answers they didn’t want to hear or didn’t like. Hubby would fly into a rage and I would get very sad and withdrawn.

    Now, we both try to accept the answers of the other with maturity.

  2. These got asked to me all the time. I finally said any unfair question or criticism disguised as a question will get answered by “Because I’m such a stupid woman. Without you here to micromanage me, I go astray. I’m so glad you asked. I won’t do it wrong again.” I stopped ironing shirts, skipped cooking a few meals, and let the kids do whatever they wanted to since I wasn’t homeschooling “right”. What I did do, I called him over and over at the office followed by emails when he stopped picking up, giving him step by step details on what I planned to do and asking for feedback and corrections before I did it wrong. I was super nice about it, but it drove him crazy until he called me by 2:30 the second day saying, “Message received. Now, leave alone!!”

    If he ever does it, I get as far as “Because I’m such-” before he rephrases or says, “I do have a criticism.” He’s honest about it now. And we can discuss it.

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