Why Don't YOU Try Living with Mono?
Saturday, September 4, 2010Tweet
In our household, the phrase "Why don't you..." is banned.
I'll admit that I can be overly sensitive sometimes about the way things are worded. Mike has accepted this and says he doesn't mind saying something differently if it's going to make the difference of whether I get upset or not. In this case, though, I think that this change has actually had a profound impact on the tone of our conversations about sensitive topics.
The problem, simply, is that "Why don't you..." is generally used to introduce a suggestion, whereas I hear it, literally, as a question. My brain apparently has trouble bringing in a "Why" question and producing anything other than a "Because" answer.
Meaning that if you'd asked me two weeks ago, "Why don't you go back to the doctor?" giving that I'm going into my sixth month of chronic fatigue, I would have answered, "Because mono is viral, so I don't feel like paying $15 to have my doctor tell me to continue to rest and drink fluids and let time heal my body."
On the other hand, if you'd substituted Mike's magical phrase and asked me, "Have you considered going back to the doctor?" you would have gotten a much different response. Yes, I've considered it. I consider it every morning when I wake up and don't think I can get myself out of bed, every time I come home from work and collapse on the couch, every time I fall asleep at 7 o'clock at night. Every time someone tells me a horror story of being misdiagnosed with mono and I remember that I was only diagnosed on my symptoms. I wonder if maybe there's something more I could be doing, or at least some new information I can tell all the people who keep asking, "When will you get better?"
As it were, I did go to the doctor a week ago and got the blood test that proves that I have mono and have had it for some time. My doctor added vitamin B and a probiotic to the collection of pills I'm already taking every morning, and he told me about a roommate of his in college who had mono for three years. And somehow I feel better being able to say that YES, I have mono, and NO, I don't know when I'll be better and neither does my doctor.
In any case, I think how a suggestion is put forward can make a huge difference in the conversation. "Why don't you..." makes assumptions. I assume you haven't done this. I assume that the cause of your problem stems from your not having done this. I assume that this is a good option for you because I assume that I know best.
"Have you considered..." is an invitation into the conversation. Have you done this already? Have you thought about it? What are your thoughts on it? Do you think this would be a good option for you?
In a marriage, especially, where (I believe) decisions should be made jointly and power shared equally, it makes a big difference when you don't try to imply that you know best.
Or maybe I'm just weird. :)