On apologizing

Posted on April 10, 2009. Filed under: reality |

One of my friends and her husband asked each other, “Will you forgive me?”  instead of saying, “I’m sorry.”  In looking back at the lead-in to the battles between my guy and I, I’ve notice that the escalation often begins with the first “I’m sorry.”

I’m not gonna lie, I’m the one that gets all worked up over a bad apology.  “I’m sorry that you are so upset” doesn’t cut it in my book.  Neither does, “I’m sorry but you really ticked me off when…” or “I”m sorry I have a bad temper.”  Apologizing that we’re fighting isn’t what I’m looking for, ya know?

You sweethearts will likely point me to “The Five Languages of Apology” by the author of “The Five Love Languages,” and you’ll be absolutely right that it’s a super fantastic book.  My guy, however, doesn’t learn particularly well from reading.  {I know, weird, right?}  He’s an experiential learner, which means that until he experiences something — or can find an experience in his past that relates in some way — he doesn’t really “get it.”

I have a cat that beats up dogs… well, he’ll try.  Yup, 12 pound cat will go after an 85 pound dog.  I told the mister about this a hundred times.  I told him about taking Frank (the cat) to Central Park on a harness and how he was super sweet to kids but would growl at passing dogs.  I told him that my sweet greyhound was rehomed because her soft personality couldn’t handle the psychological pressure of living with Frank.  I told him and told him and told him.

One weekend we kept my bff’s dog and a few days later Mr. Cheese remarked IN FRONT OF ME, “She told me that her cat would go after dogs, but I was completely surprised when her cat went after the dog!”  Sigh.

We had an argument a few nights ago about how we handle the other’s stressors; it’s a recurring argument.  What catapulted it into a fight, though, was his apology: “I’m sorry… but you’re making way too big a deal out of this and you should stop overreacting.”  Yes, that’s paraphrased.

And then the claws came out.

I’m a terrible apologizer too, always wanting to explain why I screwed up because that’s what I’d want to hear.  If you know why you did it, then you can come up with a way to avoid it in the future, right?  For him, not so much.  He just wants the whole thing to be over.  Poof.  Apology given, accepted, back to normal.  I, unfortunately, nurse my hurts until I’ve talked it all out.

Have you caught the problem?  He really wants to just go back to normal and I really want to analyze and understand it all.  Uh, oh.  If I do it his way, I stew and dwell and feel hopelessly lonely.  If he does it my way, the escalation never ends because he will say or do just about anything (within reason, whatever that means during a fight) to end it.

By this morning, we’re over it.  I hated every. single. second. of it, but he kept to himself most of the evening yesterday, then invited me to join him in watching the sunset.  Silently. (Shoot me, please.)  But whatever, it was a peace offering. I have a bunch of theories and solutions and suggestions, but talking through them isn’t going to work with this man, so instead, we’re going to experience the changes.

I think I’ll start by asking, “Will you forgive me?”


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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.


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