How You Answer the Question

I suspect some of you were thinking your husband needed my Monday post – How You Ask the Question. I’m discussing this with the men on The Generous Husband this week. In addition to how to ask questions, I will be discussing how to answer questions. The later is my topic here today.

The Bible tells us a soft answer turns away wrath. A bad answer can bring about anger, frustration, confusion and more. A good answer can be a powerful tool for better understanding and a better marriage. 

Woman with answers © iko |

What Do You Want to Communicate?

As with questions, our answers can carry anger and frustration just below the surface. Tone of voice is a common culprit here. While snippy answers may make us feel better for a moment, they don’t facilitate good communication and they don’t do anything positive for the relationship.

If your goal is to communicate love, acceptance, and respect, then your answers won’t do the opposite. When at all possible, without getting too corny, you want to clearly express love, acceptance, and respect in your answer.

Rephrase the Question

A classic communication tool is to say “I hear you asking _______?” Another way to do this is to say “Do you want to know ______?” This ensures you understand the question, which is required for answering well.

This technique is also helpful when the question was rude or confrontational. You’re trying to phrase the root of the question without the nasty edge. It’s a gentle way of rejecting the rudeness while honouring any real desire for communication.

Don’t Answer Trick Questions

Depending on your relationship you might say “Can you ask that in a way that doesn’t feel like a trap” or “Can you rephrase that?” or “I don’t know how to answer that accurately given how you asked it.” Don’t feel you have to select one of his choices of answers, be quick to say “None, of those. Actually _____.”

Answer the Real Question

If you think he’s asking something other than the words he spoke, try to answer the real question. If possible, answer the real question and the asked question, in that order. Do be careful, as this can easily become attempted mind reading. When in doubt ask. 

Example: If he asks what’s for dinner and you suspect he’s nagging you about making dinner, you could say “Do you want to know what’s for dinner or when it’s ready?” He will likely say “Both” which allows you to then answer the real question.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’ve learned question answering is sometimes a full contact sport!

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2 Comments on “How You Answer the Question

  1. I think you also need to know his sense of humor. A soft answer is one of my constantly quoted passages in my head, but this and asking him what he means irritates my husband strongly because he takes it as either “You are being unreasonable and I have to tread carefully with you.” or “You make no sense when you talk.” This can cause fights when we have these kinds of moments. He likes strong women and directness, but has more easily hurt feelings than he admits. This proves challenging.

    Humor works much better for us, hence my comment yesterday which I did with pretend huge eyes and a helpless expression. (He HATES helpless women.) As soon as I start my “Because I’m such a stupid woman…” now, we both start laughing. He usually spanks me or kisses me.

    On the day he told me that he got the message about questions that are really complaints, he came home, grabbed me and said, “Oh, ha, ha, I see Miss Witty is back again. I have something to show you step by step too.” as he pulled me into our room since the kids were in bed.

    For us, I am very careful and gentle during a disagreement, but always honest. However, if I am trying to get a point across, I try to think of a way that he will find funny or non-abrasive because careful words are a sign to him. “I am upset. This is a fight.”

    Day to day, I think cultivating a spirit of gentleness is crucial and obedient to the Lord, plus assuming the best motivation and spending enough time studying your spouse to know when a direct answer, a soft answer, teasing, or something else is appropriate.

  2. If my husband asks me a question that is irritating or is a trick question my usual response is:

    Now, how would you like me to answer that question?

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