Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Don't Know

If you live in the U.S., this is undoubtedly a phrase you've heard fairly often in your life. It's not offensive usually and literally means you don't have an answer to the question, problem, etc.

Not so for my husband. We've been together over 5 years now and this is one phrase he just can't come to terms with. He absolutely hates it when I say this and I've not managed to stop using it yet. It's an innocent phrase so I don't understand the problem he has with it fully.

He takes great offense to this term though. It's like I've slapped him in the face and many times I get this shell-shocked look from him when I say it. Then I remind him that if I don't have the answer, I'm not going to make something up and lie to him just to have something to say. That's just not who I am.

Of course, most of the time he just keeps on asking as if my answer will change. I find this frustrating. I don't like to be asked the same thing over and over so when I use the term "I don't know" the conversation is usually odd. It goes something like this:

Hubby: Why is the sky blue?
Me: I don't know.
Hubby: But what gives it the color?
Me: I don't know.
Hubby: Do you think it's blue because of chemicals in the air?
Me. I said I don't know. I'm not a scientist, I don't have the answer.
Hubby: But....
Me: Babe. I don't know. I can't answer this for you. You're going to have to Google or something, I can't just make up an answer for you, it wouldn't be right.
Hubby: Ok. Fine.

He doesn't go Google it or ask anyone else. He just leaves the topic alone after that. It leaves me irritable and confused. Obviously he didn't really want to know. I also sometimes wonder why he thinks I am the only source of information that exists. Clearly I'm just one person. I can't be expected to know everything there is to know. My brain would probably explode if I did.

In the beginning of our relationship hubby would get really upset when I didn't have an answer for him. Even over something simple. He likes definitive answers, regardless of whether or not they're true or feasible. When it comes to things I can control and could know, like what time we are leaving, he gets just as frustrated. As if he doesn't live on Punjabi timing. For him if I say we're leaving at 5 PM he won't start getting ready until 5 PM. That's a whole blog post by itself though.

I can only assume that this comes from the common anti-no attitude of many Indians. Just like a shop keeper won't tell you if he can't get a product for you, I think maybe hubby relates me not knowing as me saying no to him. As in, 'no, I won't answer you.'

How does your Indian love respond to phrases like "I don't know?"
Do you think this phrase is somewhat equal to saying no?


  1. I can totally relate! It's so funny you mentioned this. I say "I don't know" very often and I never really thought of it as being a negative response. That was until I married my Pakistani husband. He absolutely hates hearing "I don't know" to anything. He says it's an American thing to say it. Well, I am American, so that may be why I say it so much. I still don't see why it's bad to say it! Sometimes I just don't know, you know what I mean?

  2. Being an Indian woman (married to an American) this attitude of needing to have a response is something I have encountered often in India. I think this need comes from having to "save face", especially among people in authority, where not knowing the answer equates to not being capable of doing the job. When I was TA'ing here in the U.S. and got a chance to teach, the idea of not knowing an answer (to a student's question) petrified me until my mentor/professor said "if you don't know something, say so and then get back with the answer when you do, no big deal". That changed my life. I still teach and I still don't know all the answers and never will but I'm not as hung up on the whole idea of having to know everything.

  3. I rarely can think of anything better to say than I don't know lol. I am trying but it's not easy. 'I have no idea' doesn't seem to fare any better in conversation. 'I don't have an answer' wasn't a good response either. I do think that he's becoming less and less opposed to it because he's starting to realize I'm not saying it offensively.

  4. I can only imagine the pressure that comes from trying to have a response to something you don't know how to answer. I think I would find it stressful. I do that sometimes now. I would like to have an answer, but I don't.

  5. I will take "I don't know" any day to "figure it out!".
    Story of my life.

  6. Lol. I think I like 'I don't know' a lot better too.

  7. this is ur husband lol i just read this post ,let me put the real conversation we have,
    hubby ,can u help to fill a form of application iam stuck in one question

    wife :ur answer with irritating voice ,google it iam on Facebook,or iam blogging ,or iam tired ,or i have to much things to do ,(that is just one example)

    lol and another i dont think ask many questions like u mention'

  8. You're hilairious! You forgot to mention the question on the form is about software or something equally as mind-destroying and I say 'I don't know' or 'I've never heard of that." LOL. What's wrong with google????? :P

  9. hilairious! me hmmm ,i think i kep my mouth shut most of the time not to ask things ,but if this really problem i try my best not to ask much question which iam already not asking but i will try not to bug

  10. If you're not getting on my nerves you're not a good husband. :P Bug the crap out of me haha.

  11. ur comment reply " :P Bug the crap out of me haha.

    ur blog post "most of the time he just keeps on asking as if my answer will change. I find this frustrating"I don't like to be asked

    You're hilarious! Make ur mind girl ,i know u have millions of viewers let everyone know my point of view as-well.

  12. Hi! Hubby is always asking where is this or that and I end up telling him 'I know as much as you do' and then he says I don't want to help him.

  13. I like your wording, though it's sad you and I still get the same response. Hubby thinks I don't help him either lol. It's far from true though.