My husband John and I tag-teamed the following post from his perspective on the questions that often come up in our marriage. We had a really fun time discussing and writing this one and we hope you enjoy reading it!
“Does this make me look fat?”
Men, we’ve all heard this question. And women, you’ve all asked this question in some way, shape, or form.
Questions are an important part of life. We ask them every day. Getting feedback from others is a part of our everyday life and interactions as human beings, and especially within the context of marriage.
Some questions we ask because we want the honest truth. But other questions? Other questions we ask for alternate motives or desired responses.
Deb and I were recently talking about some of the questions that have come up in our marriage. I have to admit, over the past few years of marriage we have gotten much better at being direct with each other, having open communication, and saying what we mean instead of hoping for the other to read between the lines. But nonetheless, there have often been times where we’ve failed to be as direct as we should be…and these indirect questions have sneaked their way into the story. We thought it would be fun to highlight a few of those questions that women often ask and interpret what is really going on behind the scenes. Men, here’s a list of some of the questions you may have heard in your marriage, but more importantly – what your response should be! Good communication is so much more about the answer than it is about the question. And if you’re single or dating, here’s how you can start the Q&A preparations- because the questions will be here before you know it!
Q: What are you thinking?
A: Men, let me clue you in on some lessons I’ve learned in my years of marriage. When she asks, what are you thinking- what she really means is this: Something’s on my mind, let’s talk. Always remember that in general, “Nothing” is not an acceptable answer and only increases the frustration level of the conversation, as well as moves you into the “clueless” category.
In interacting with my wife, one thing I’ve learned about women is this: something is ALWAYS on her mind. Women tend to be more active thinkers- often even thinking about more than what they’re currently doing or discussing. Whereas us men- we like to stay in the moment, whether that be the task at hand or the current topic of conversation.
Sometimes this question could be an attempt to bring up some sort of unresolved conflict, or just a genuine attempt to emotionally connect. So take the question at face value and use is as an opportunity to start dialogue with your wife by sharing something that comes to mind – or as the ancient Greeks often did in Socratic style- turn the question back on her! Take a moment to show interest and honor your spouse by choosing to connect- even if there is seriously nothing on your mind.
Q: Are you going to eat that?
A: I don’t know if this is a female thing, or maybe it’s just my wife- but food ALWAYS seems to be most appealing to Deb when it’s the last few bites of something I’ve been saving or savoring. Take for instance, my favorite food splurge, the Creme Brulee at the Hotel Hershey (If you’ve never been to Hershey- this little dessert is worth it’s weight in gold!). Before getting to dessert, I make it clear that this Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert in the entire world, and I’d like to consume all of it. I also make it clear that if she has any inclination of having some, I can generously get her her own.
Without fail: “No, I’m okay” or orders something different. The Creme Brulee arrives in all it’s caramelized glory. I begin to enjoy it bite by bite when I hear this predictable little question, “Are you going to eat that?” Clearly, there was some sort of miscommunication, as my wife looks over at me with her big, brown, inquisitive eyes. That’s when I kiss my Creme Brulee goodbye. What’s really meant by this question, is: I want to share in what you’re enjoying! Men, take these as moments not to get upset or count what you’re losing, rather, see them as a chance to share the little things in life that you love, with the woman you love. And next time, be sure to order two.
Q: Do you want to change the baby’s diaper?
A: The obvious answer to this would be, “No”. There is nothing appealing about changing our baby’s “He-Man” poop, add to that the high likelihood that he will try to grab it and squirm while you’re trying to clean up his toxic waste. All in all, this is not an activity I would describe with the word “want”.
This isn’t an infrequent question, often heard when I come home from work. What Deb usually means by asking this question is this: I have had a long day with the kids, I’ve changed more diapers than you could count, and I could really use a little break and some help with the kids. Mommies like to call this, “me time”. This question can take on various forms and usually involves some acts of service (unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, laundry, etc.) – you know what I’m talking about. For each marriage it looks a little different.
A lot of times when I come home from work, I’m exhausted too. It’s easy to fall into mentality that “I am the one who deserves the break”. But I challenge myself and would challenge all husbands to remember that our wives who are caring for our kids have the most important and difficult job in the world. And as easy and as much as my flesh wants to respond with a resounding NO, these are practical ways that I can show her sacrificial love.
Q: Is everything okay?
A: If this question is being asked- things are CLEARLY not okay. And if you even think for a moment of answering YES…you are about to fall down a deep, dark, pit that you do not want to enter.
To me, this question highlights some of the differences between men and women. There may have been earlier conflict or tension in your relationship that you felt you had dealt with or that you’d moved on. As men, it’s sometimes a lot easier for us to move on and go forward as though nothing had ever happened. From what I know of my wife, for women, it often takes a few more steps to process and feel the resolution.
It can sometimes seem like this question comes out of nowhere, when you genuinely thought everything was okay- and it very well may be okay. But this question implies that they are looking for additional assurance and continued communication in that whatever the issue, acknowledging that you are moving forward together and are on the same page. Instead of getting upset or defensive, take this question as an opportunity to reaffirm your wife that everything is okay or as a chance to work through anything that may be left unresolved. But whatever you do, don’t say YES.
Q: Is that what you’re going to wear?
A: Deb and I still have an ongoing debate that short-sleeves are not acceptable year-round. You see, although we live in Pennsylvania and got FEET of snow with months of freezing cold temperatures, my argument is: the climate is always controlled indoors! So rain or shine, hot or cold- it’s going to be 72 degrees wherever I’m at.
What I’ve learned that my wife is really saying by this question is, “I would really prefer if you dressed in something more appropriate for the occasion”. What it comes down to is that something as simple as how I dress can be an act of love to her. I can take into consideration her opinions and her advice in all aspects of life- and even clothing preferences- because at the end of the day, she’s the one I want to impress and the one who’s opinion I care about most. And ALL the time, her requests are reasonable- more often it’s me just grabbing the quickest, easiest outfit for the day. So men until sweatpants, mesh shorts, and wrinkled shirts are in- don’t bother to answer this question- just march right back upstairs and try again.
Q: Does this make me look fat?
A: I’m going to start this off by saying that I have the most beautiful wife in the world- who is gorgeous on the inside and out. What this question is getting at strikes a chord with the heart of all women- and probably all people in some way, shape or form. We men tend to replace it with questions of approval such as, “Are you proud…?” but at the core, we’re all getting at the same thing.
Deep down, we all want to be accepted, loved, and affirmed. Women want to feel desired and noticed by their husbands. Oftentimes that outfit they are trying to squeeze into has far less to do with the outfit, and far more to do with your attention.
There’s two answers to this question. The first is a call to affirm your wife’s beauty- not just in that moment but throughout your marriage so that she knows without a shadow of a doubt that you love her, are attracted to her, and think she’s beautiful. The second part to answering this question is a practical matter. Sometimes, my wife is asking my opinion about an outfit because she genuinely wants to know if she looks okay, or if the outfit is appropriate. I use this as an opportunity to give her my honest feedback and show her that I care about the details because they matter to her. So if she looks fantastic, I let her know. And if the outfit isn’t flattering, I will let her know but more than that I will suggest a favorite outfit or something that I think would work better. Either way the goal is to leave the conversation with your wife knowing that you think she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.
I hope this peek into our life and interactions encourages you women to keep asking questions and be as open and honest as you can be- and you men to look beyond the question and see an opportunity to love your wife- no matter how the question is posed.
We’d love to hear from you: What are some questions that come up in your relationship, and what are your thoughts on how to interpret them? Leave a comment below!
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John Fileta currently resides in Pennsylvania, with his wife, Deb, and four kids. He’s been “True Love Dating” since 2004 😉 He loves good books, woodworking, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He has no instagram, blog or Twitter, but highly recommends you read this one! You can contact him here for any thoughts, questions, or feedback.
DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, bestselling author, relationship expert, and founder of the Debra Fileta Counselors Network. She’s written five books including Choosing Marriage, True Love Dates, Love In Every Season, Are You Really OK? and Married Sex. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast answering listener questions about love, relationships, and mental and emotional health. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter or book an online session with her or someone from her team today!