Early on in my marriage, a certain something my wife would do would get to me a little bit. She would say something like, “Before you get on the internet, do you want to fold the laundry for me?” Or she would ask, “Do you want to go to the store with me this afternoon?”
These “want to” questions really irritated me because my honest answer was always “No!” I mean, of course I didn’t want to fold the laundry, I would much rather do something more fun. And I would always answer her the same way: “I don’t want to do that, but I will.” And though that answer might sound honorable, my mood was always affected. I just couldn’t understand why she would ask me to do something in that way.
Around that time I learned a truth that has really affected many different aspects of life: How you ask is just as important as what you ask. I realized that whenever my wife said, “Will you go to store with me?” that I didn’t get irritated with her like I did when she asked if I wanted to. All of a sudden it didn’t feel like a loaded question. The answer was simple: “Of course I will.” When we sat down and talked about this together, things got much better.
Understanding the difference between asking the questions “Will you?” vs. “Want to?” is important for both husband and wife to grasp. When a husband realizes that he could do more for his wife – and do so more willingly – simply by having her rephrase the way she asks, there will be less tension and less letdown. When a wife understands that her husband is always willing to help, even though he might not desire to help, more things get done and there are less hurt feelings.
There’s a difference between desire and will, and tapping into that difference in how we communicate can make both sides feel like they’re accomplishing something.