In my line of work, I occasionally have to take or defend a deposition. In a deposition you get to ask the opposing party’s witness questions before the case goes to trial to understand what the facts are that support their claims or their defenses. Some depositions are short, some are long, some are easy, some are hard. But one of the most interesting parts of a deposition is when you begin to ask the witness about the heart of his claim or defense. There is always a question you don’t WANT to ask. You know it’s going to be a terrible answer for your side because the witness has prepared and knows the best answer (oftentimes) to support his position. You don’t want to ask the question, but you have to because you need to be prepared for what will be said at trial. You have to know exactly what the answer is going to be even if it’s an answer you don’t want to hear.
Have you ever had this moment in life? Have you ever had this moment in your marriage? Well, I have. Something is upsetting my husband and I THINK that it has to do with something I did. I won’t know for sure until I ask the question, but I don’t WANT to ask the question because I’m pretty sure I won’t like the answer. So I avoid asking the question for a while. In the meantime, we walk around avoiding the issue. Whoever said silence was golden wasn’t married – silence isn’t always golden. Sometimes silence is terrible. Stifling. So I make myself ask the question. I might wait until we’re in bed and the lights are off so I can put a little bit of a buffer over the answer if it’s one I don’t like. I don’t have to watch the answer come out of his mouth – I can just hear it and process it. But sometimes the answer is not AT ALL the one I was avoiding. The response might be as simple as my poor husband having a terrible day at work, and he had NO IDEA that I was walking around thinking I’d done something wrong (and then I’d lost an opportunity to support him all day because I was too scared to ask). But, on occasion, the answer is what I was expecting. And what I was avoiding. But it is also the truth. One that must be confronted and discussed and resolved if we want to move past it and make our home a happy place again. Avoiding it was making it worse.
In a deposition, I always ask the question. Even if I don’t like the answer, it helps me prepare for trial. It helps me understand more fully the strengths and weaknesses of my case and plan to present the best case possible for my client. That exact same approach should be used in marriages. We might not like the answer to the question we ask, but it helps us understand more fully the strengths and weaknesses in our marriage. Then we can address them and plan the best path forward to improve our our relationship and heal any hurts – or, as we say in my house these days, kiss those boo-boos.