I understand the concept that if you truly love someone, you’ll forgive them no matter what. That interpretation is especially applicable to your own children. When it comes to your wife though, you may not have to say you’re sorry, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Saying you’re sorry is an act of love, in and of itself. It shows your awareness of your partner’s feelings, and a willingness to make it right. The key is making it right; our actions speak louder than our words. Sometimes this atonement is before we actually say the words, sometimes after, but no matter what order it comes in, you have to do something.
We’ve taught our kids to apologize to each other and use the statement “I won’t do it again”. Of course being children they do make the same mistakes again. As adults, we are fallible, and sometimes we make the same mistakes multiple times.
For a long time, I didn’t wash out my lunch dishes when I got home from work. I would forget and just drop them in the sink and go sit down. I’m better about it now, but it took a while to develop the good habit.
There are some mistakes though that you must learn from and NOT do them again. I’m confident that if you’re reading this, you have the mental capacity to know what those things are and remember them. Some you learn by experience, others you can learn just from talking to your wife.
We each have emotional “buttons”. These are quick triggers to anger, sadness, and other bad emotions. These can be from a variety of sources: previous relationships, family life, or other life experiences can create these sensitive buttons. If you find one of these buttons, never push it on purpose. Intentionally causing pain where you know it will hurt the most is patently wrong. You should guard these buttons from yourself and anyone else.
The emotional bank within each of us has an inconsistent exchange rate. It takes roughly 5 positive deposits to each negative withdrawal. With that in mind, when you’re making up for something, not only do you need to fix what you did wrong, but you need to take extra steps to restore your good standing.
Some things are difficult and improbable to make up for. Infidelity, abuse of any kind, or conscious refusal to support your family are among these issues. Avoid these at all costs. Decide and commit now to not do them.
Here’s the practical advice:
- Be the First – Don’t wait for her to apologize. If you hurt each others feelings, be the one to start the apologies. Be aware that you may not receive an immediate apology even if you feel you were wronged. Remember you’re not vying to be top dog, you’re caring for your mate.
- Make It Right – Very few things can’t be fixed. So fix it.
- Say it with Sincerity – This isn’t the time for humor or the time to be flippant. There’s time for laughter later, but in the heat of things, it is imperative that she know you truly mean what you say.
Above all else: Love Your Wife