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I'm looking for a single word that describes the practice of "expressing a feeling/assessment by first denying that feeling/assessment". Here is an example of that practice: "I'm not saying you're wrong but there is no evidence to support your assertion". Or: "I'm not saying you're overweight but you could stand to lose a few pounds". Or, "I don't think I'm perfect but I rarely make mistakes". I've checked the thesaurus: "irony" is the closest fit, but isn't quite right.

As in..

I don't know what my wife truly meant when she uttered the _________: "I'm not saying I don't love you anymore, but I just feel that we need a trial separation ".

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    I would call that "a qualification" – Cascabel Jun 23 at 20:26
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    I see. How about: I don't know what my wife truly meant when my she uttered the _________: "I'm not saying I don't love you anymore, but I just feel that we need a trial separation ". – user136484 Jun 23 at 21:49
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    Please do not leave your proposed edit in comment: edit the post. – Cascabel Jun 23 at 22:03
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    @Cascabel - New users often don't know how. Thanks for making the edit for them. – aparente001 Jun 24 at 3:06
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    I don't know what my wife meant when she contradicted herself. – aparente001 Jun 24 at 11:03
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Such a statement makes a case for a paradox.

I don't know what my wife truly meant when she uttered the paradox: "I'm not saying I don't love you anymore, but I just feel that we need a trial separation ".

Collins:

paradox
2. variable noun
A paradox is a statement in which it seems that if one part of it is true, the other part of it cannot be true.

Although I'm so successful I'm really rather a failure. That's a paradox, isn't it?

COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary.
Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers

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