General Etiquette > Family and Children

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

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Bethalize:
I'd consider this behaviour a lie of omission. You're not giving up all the information that the person needs, even if they didn't specifically ask for it.

WillyNilly:

--- Quote from: Virg on February 11, 2013, 08:10:46 AM ---I agree with WillyNilly's idea but I disagree with the approach, because it sounds too much like a scold.  So I'll just give the advice I got from my grandfather, which is "ask the question you want to ask."  If you ask why he didn't eat the peppers he says, "I wasn't hungry" but the more explicit "Should I pack them again tomorrow or not?" will directly help you find out if you should try again or not.

Virg

--- End quote ---

Except in the OP she did ask exactly the question she wanted an answer to and her DH answered a wholly different question that he wasn't asked.
She didn't ask "why didn't you eat the peppers?" she asked if he didn't like them.  Being hungry or not hungry has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether he likes them or not. She asked the direct question.  If she's going to follow up with a question to get the answer she wants, she should just repeat her original question.  Because honestly, asking "should I pack them again tomorrow or not?" doesn't really garner her any long term useful info - maybe no he doesn't want them tomorrow either... but what about next week when she sees peppers in the fridge and is packing lunch?  Or next month? 

Virg:
WillyNilly wrote:

"Except in the OP she did ask exactly the question she wanted an answer to and her DH answered a wholly different question that he wasn't asked.
She didn't ask "why didn't you eat the peppers?" she asked if he didn't like them.  Being hungry or not hungry has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether he likes them or not. She asked the direct question.  If she's going to follow up with a question to get the answer she wants, she should just repeat her original question."

I agree that he dodged the question, but that's what guides my thinking and why I think that telling him to listen better would be counterproductive.  He dodged it for one of two reasons that I can see.  Either he's just thinking differently than she was, in which case telling him to listen better is a scold, or he did it on purpose (likely to spare her feelings I'd guess), in which case he was already listening so it's pointless to tell him to listen.  Just repeating the question is likely to garner the same answer again (the reason why he dodged it the first time didn't likely change in those few moments) and the real piece of information she wanted was whether she should pack the peppers for the next day or not, so asking that question deals with the first possibility by rephrasing and deals with the second by putting it on him to decide whether he considers the dodge worth getting a lunch he doesn't like.

Again, I agree that she shouldn't have to reconfigure questions like this, but it's enough of a problem that she came here to ask for help so I suggested something that's likely to make such exchanges more productive in general.

Virg

Danika:
I've found a lot of the responses very insightful. This is just an isolated incident in your marriage so I obviously can't guess if the thoughts that occurred to me apply here or not.

I remember when my DH was younger, we had some exchanges like this where he seemed to be evasive about things that really weren't worth lying about. Eventually, I learned that there were some sore-spot subjects that he had to lie about as a child to keep his parents from freaking out, and so he continued to lie about them as an adult. If this pertains to your husband, then it could explain why he's able to be honest about clothing but not about food. When he was a child, likely, his parents didn't ask him if he approved of their appearances. But he likely was asked "Did you like the food I made? Are you eating your vegetables?" It might have been so ingrained that he had to purchase healthy foods (like peppers) and lie to avoid eating them that he might not even realize he's doing it. Only after I pointed out to my DH that he did that, in his case, it was lying about who he had plans with and what was on his calendar, did he realize that he was no longer a small child and was able to be honest with me. And I intensely dislike lying, more than even the average person dislikes dishonesty. Once I communicated to my DH that it'd be better to tell me the truth, no matter what the truth was, than to lie, and that there wouldn't be repercussions for being honest, but that there would be huge ones for lying, he stopped the little lies.

The other thing I thought of was what WillyNilly mentioned. My father is an example of someone (like WillyNilly's ex) who never answers the question that's asked of him. I don't know if that's why he became a lawyer. But he always assumes you want to know X, so even if you ask about Y, he tells you X. Like if you say "Did you put the milk back in the fridge?" He doesn't answer that. He says "I didn't drink any milk." So then it turns into a heated argument where you reply "Fine, but maybe you filled a bottle for the toddler, or gave some to the cat." Silence. And you have to repeat your question and get another roundabout answer that doesn't answer your question. Soon, he's defensive and telling you that he didn't spill any and that the counters are clean. Finally, you are yelling and you are saying "I just want to know if the gallon of milk is back in the fridge or if I have to get up and go to the kitchen and put it back before it spoils!" That, I have no solution for.

Lynn2000:
Danika, you have some good examples of the ways that different people communicate, which I'm sure has frustrated many a couple in the history of the world! :) My dad and his family are really bad at communicating, too. They are great people but my dad especially seems to think that people close to him can read his mind, or will simply trust that whatever he's up to is important, for example. I have a lot of trouble traveling with my parents because my dad simply will not make plans clear beforehand.

Recently we had a tense exchange when my parents and I went on a weekend trip together. The entire time we were making plans and discussing the trip, both in person and through email, I thought we were going to do Activity A on Saturday, then Activity B on Sunday, then be home by early afternoon on Sunday. I especially wanted to do B (shopping for my hobby) so I put a lot of effort into planning it, including selecting places that would be open on Sunday. No other plans were at any point mentioned or hinted at, and I was careful, even over-careful, to check with my dad (the driver) that the stops I wanted to make were okay with him.

Well, the trip started and after about an hour in the car, I realized my dad planned to do Activity B (shopping) first, on Saturday, then proceed to Activity A (so my work of finding places open on Sunday was for nothing). Gradually I came to realize that Activity C had been planned for Saturday night, Activity D for Sunday morning, and then Activity E (involving meeting people for lunch) Sunday noon; so that instead of getting home in the early afternoon on Sunday, we would be lucky to leave our destination by then. All of these activities my dad knew about well in advance--my mom knew about them, too, but (foolishly) assumed my dad had told me about them.

This is so typical of traveling with my parents and it makes me really angry. It's definitely not that my dad just forgot to tell me (nor does he claim this). Whatever his motivation, it just feels very dismissive to me, like I'm still a child who can be carted around to whatever event without being consulted. I don't mean to derail the thread; it's just that I think some people have these weird blocks inside them that can be barriers to communication, and it can take some work to recognize and work with them. Being raised with my dad as an example, I often feel a weird compulsion to not tell people important things myself, and I'm trying to work on fixing that.

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