General Etiquette > Family and Children

When there are two reasons, but the speaker only states one

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StareDecisis:
I think this is a general etiquette question, not a relationship question, but I apologize in advance if this is not appropriate for this board. 

My husband has a habit of giving one answer to a question, even if there are other, more complete, reasons.  For a silly example (which actually happened), I packed his lunch (we basically divide household chores, and packing lunches for both of us is one I chose - I realize this may be odd to some!) and included sliced bell peppers (which he bought at the market earlier that week) with hummus.  He did not eat them, and brought them home.  I asked him if he didn't like them, and he said "Oh, I wasn't very hungry today."  Thinking nothing of it, I put them in the fridge and then in his lunch for the next day.  Again, he return with the uneaten peppers.  I again asked if he didn't like them, he got a deer in headlights look, and said "Oh, um, not really. No."  I asked why he didn't just say that yesterday, and he said "Well, I wasn't hungry yesterday, so it wasn't a lie." 

He does things like this all the time, mostly about insignificant things like the peppers, but sometimes about important things.  I say this is akin to telling a lie, as it is not the complete truth, and saying the full truth would then let me know not to waste my time washing/slicing/packing the peppers, or whatever the issue is.  He says I am nagging him and calling him a liar without just cause, and that both things are true.  I think that in cases like this, he ought to either say both things, or if he must only say one, then he should pick the more "complete" answer. 

What are your thoughts?  How can I, in the most polite way possible, figure out the real answer during the first conversation without nagging him? 

StarFaerie:
In that instance it sounds like he's trying not to hurt your feelings and so engaging in the socially acceptable little white lies that we all use to do that. "No, your bottom doesn't look bid in that." "Hair looks good." "i love your bell peppers, I'm just not hungry."

Maybe at a time when you're not upset let him know that you appreciate that he's trying to spare your feelings and you love him for it, but you really would prefer just to know. And then ensure you don't get upset with him when he does tell you hurtful truths (not saying you would)

Lynn2000:
I wouldn't say he's so much lying, as that he/you both have communication issues. Of two true reasons (in this case), he's giving you the one that's least helpful to you in planning your future actions--that's how you see it. I suspect (as StarFaerie suggests) that to him, he's giving you the one that he thinks will spare your feelings, or is less confrontational, in the short term.

I see something I think is similar a lot with some friends and family. I could imagine my friend Amy and her husband Adam having this exact exchange about the peppers. Amy would get really exasperated at Adam, and instead of learning how she would prefer he act, he just learns that this is a really touchy subject that he should continue avoiding in the future. Plus, accusing someone of lying often causes a conversation to spiral downhill pretty fast, rather than being productive.

I could even imagine Amy saying, "WHY didn't you tell me you didn't like bell peppers before I bought that whole bag of them last week?!"

And Adam would probably be like (if he answered honestly), "You didn't ASK me if I liked bell peppers. You just ASSUMED I would eat them. And sometimes, even when you ask and I say I don't want something, you insist I try it anyway, or that it's good for me, so why should I bother giving my real opinion?"

StareDecisis, I'm not saying that's what's going on in your case, because obviously I don't know. :) But, IME, with things like this it's often that the two people are coming at the situation from two totally different angles. So, like StarFaerie suggests, maybe at a later time ask him calmly what he was thinking, without any preconceived ideas, and see if anything interesting turns up.

StareDecisis:

--- Quote from: StarFaerie on February 08, 2013, 05:50:40 PM ---In that instance it sounds like he's trying not to hurt your feelings and so engaging in the socially acceptable little white lies that we all use to do that. "No, your bottom doesn't look bid in that." "Hair looks good." "i love your bell peppers, I'm just not hungry."

Maybe at a time when you're not upset let him know that you appreciate that he's trying to spare your feelings and you love him for it, but you really would prefer just to know. And then ensure you don't get upset with him when he does tell you hurtful truths (not saying you would)

--- End quote ---

I would totally agree with this in most circumstances, but he has NO problem saying things such as "Your bum looks a bit big in that skirt, maybe you shouldn't buy it" or "Your hair looks frizzy, maybe fix it before we go out?", even if it is completely unsolicited, which is one reason I find exchanges like the pepper incident baffling! FWIW, I actually appreciate such comments - I would rather be told something like that by my husband while I can do something to fix it, rather than discover that I've been walking around with hair like Einstein's :)

TootsNYC:
I find that with many people, I have to preface questions with an explanation that says, "I don't care what the answer is, it's no skin off MY nose if you don't like bell peppers or whatever. Please give me an answer that helps me plan."

I really have to do it at work, because sometimes I'm in charge of deadlines.

And sometimes you need to think what the REAL question is. Maybe the question isn't "why didn't you eat the peppers?" (because parents use "why?" questions to scold their children--I try to make my husband stop it, but it's pretty deeply ingrained), but is instead, "should I stop packing peppers in your lunch?"

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