Asking someone why they did something usually puts them on the defensive. The question of Why most often does not come from a place of genuine curiosity, but rather a place of judgment and sometimes even criticism. “Why did you do that?” can easily present the vibe that whatever it is that the other person did, as well as their motive for doing it, it was inherently wrong, and the other person will unconsciously pick up on that feeling.
Whenever your mate does something that you don’t agree with or can’t understand, pause and ask yourself what it is about their action that bothers you. Try to pinpoint the reason why you feel that they shouldn’t have done it, and you’ll be that much closer to breaking down your judgement of their action. Your partner acted the way they did for a very specific reason, even if neither of you know it, and if you’re judgmental of them even in the slightest you will never get to the root cause of why they did what they did in the first place.
In other words, nothing will change.
Instead of asking Why, try moving into a place of curiosity, and find a way to rephrase your question to reflect that feeling. For example, “What were you hoping to get out of doing that?”, or“What made you decide to speak up?” The most important part of this exercise it not just to change the words you use, but the emotion that you present with the words.
The word Why is not inherently wrong or bad, it just tends to carry a critical feeling with it that will push your partner away from you if you ask it too often, or in the wrong way. Try to become more aware of the feeling behind the question, and then ask: Is that really the way you want to approach the most intimate person in your life? If not, how can you reframe the question – and the feeling – to be more sensitive to your spouse?
Also, you are absolutely free to state how the other person’s actions made you feel as well. Just make all of your comments about yourself, “I got really upset when you…”, “I don’t like it when you…”, and “I don’t understand…” If you make factual statements about your feelings you will avoid the common trap of blaming your mate for how you feel, and you will also communicate vital information to your partner about what’s important to you.
Remember: Intimacy blossoms from a space of real curiosity and a desire to learn more about one another. No one wants to be on the defensive and feel like their spouse isn’t even trying to understand them. So change your questions into those which help you explore one another’s beliefs, needs, and desires.