COLUMN: The Christmas question loop for couples

Anyone in a relationship is likely to be familiar with Questions That Have Only One Answer – Except When They Don’t.

On Point by Andrew Holota

Anyone in a relationship is likely to be familiar with Questions That Have Only One Answer – Except When They Don’t.

What’s amusing is how they become so prevalent around Christmas.

Example: It’s the night of an official Christmas party. She has donned a dress that involved considerable seeking, soul-searching and, finally, selection.

You know the question is coming, because it was asked several times previously…

“Do you like this dress?”

Anyone with enough brain power to operate a TV remote is aware that the answer is Yes. Definitely Yes. Utterly Yes. Anything less than Oh Heavens Yes has high potential to result in drama, for all concerned.

Therefore, Yes.

Having passed the first Christmas IQ quiz, this can be followed by:

“Do you think I’m getting heavier?”

Only someone with a self-destructive tendency would answer in any fashion than a surprised, “Heavier? Gosh, no!”

Definitely No. Positively No. Oh Gracious No.

However, it can get trickier…

At the party, she casts a glance at a guest, and casually throws this one out: “Do you like her dress?”

All systems on alert. This is not an immediate Yes answer. This tests whether you are in tune with the night’s first question. To answer Yes at this point indicates you may not have been sincere  in the affirmative reply to the same query at home. Reference drama.

However, a quick No may be leading into a judgmental minefield.

“Why?”

Step very, very carefully now. One must be completely positive that any feature about to be criticized is not also an element of the outfit wholeheartedly endorsed just a short time earlier.

Go with: “I like yours much more.”

And just in case someone is thinking this is gender stereotyping, men are guilty of the same double-speak.

She asks: “What would you like for Christmas?”

His earnest response: “Who, me? Oh … I’m just happy to be with you.”

He lies like a dog.

If there would be nothing under the tree for him come Christmas morning, there’d be a stubbly bottom lip dragging all over the house for the rest of the holidays.

So he deserves it when he poses the same question (at the last minute), and she coyly returns with an equally unhelpful answer.

“I’ve been giving you hints all year.”

Uh oh.

Really? When?

Busted.

Even the simpler tasks around this time of year seem to send couples into a Groundhog Day-style communication loop.

I watched a young husband and wife at a big retail store, engaged in the search for the right Christmas tree.

They appeared intelligent and well-educated, but their exchange went like this:

He holds up a tree and looks at her quizzically.

“How about this one? What do you think?”

She purses her lips, and shrugs.

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

He says: “Here, you hold it.”

She does and then asks: “So? What do you think?”

Role reversal: “I dunno, what do think?”

Clearly trying to build consensus, she offers: “I’m not sure. What do you think?”

There were lots of trees to choose from. For all I know, those two are still out there on that parking lot.

I hope they have a merry Christmas – and you, as well.

Andrew Holota is the editor of the Abbotsford News

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