John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Stupid Questions

We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s impossible to ask a stupid question.”

As someone who has the habit of asking lots of questions, I always took comfort in this maxim. But learned about 12 years ago during a marriage counseling session, it’s not always true.

I have since become a huge fan of marriage counseling for all couples. It teaches relationship skills we all need and is no different, in my opinion, to time and money we spend keeping our bodies and minds fit. But this was during the first few weeks of counseling and my lovely wife, Rebecca, and I still assumed it we were basically having a contest to see who could “win” and that the counselor was basically our umpire and score keeper.

Rebecca had won the first few sessions on points. I’d always known that if I’d been a boxer life, I’d be better served trying to always win on points rather than going for the knockout punch—even though the impulse to go for the knockout was always hard for me to resist. This morning I was off to an excellent start—doing all the right things. Using I statements and parrying well by mirroring empathetically Rebecca’s statements. I seemed to have our counselor on my side with momentum rolling my way.

And then I decided to go for the close and seal the deal, so to speak, with a question that I thought would secure a “W” for me this session—and one that we’ll all remember. It was the boxer–not the husband—in me.

“Doctor,” I thoughtfully intoned. “I’m sure you treat a lot of unhappy couples in your practice and I think you’ve had a chance to get to know me pretty well these past few weeks. Is it fair to say that most of the wives you meet with would be very happy to have a husband like me?”

And then….then…there was that awful, horrendous feeling one gets when you suspect there’s been a crack in the universe —and everyone is staring at you like you are to blame. And deep down, you agree with them.

I never got an answer to my question. But the question did help one of us “seal the deal” that morning. And it was a question we did, in fact, all remember.

And no one—on that morning—offered me the solace “John, there is no such thing as a stupid question.”


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