“I’m sorry” are two of the most difficult words in the English language. In the list of husband’s favorite activities, saying “I’m sorry” ranks at the bottom right below handing over the TV remote, and watching Lifetime (which somehow seem to go together). “I’m sorry” is such a difficult thing to say that most men, when they do eventually decided they need to utter the dreaded words put their but right in the middle of it. No, not their butt, their but!
- I’m sorry that I said that but when you didn’t …
- I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings but I was angry that you didn’t respect me by…
- I’m sorry but it’s your fault.
Weak or Strong? Right or Wrong?
Men immediately equate apology with weakness. We picture a servant bowing before the queen, groveling for her humble forgiveness. When we think of apology we automatically think of a winner and, more importantly, a looser.
It is these images that keep us from apologizing rather than a belief that we didn’t do anything wrong. Most times in an argument I can quickly see the things that I should have done or said, but I don’t want to apologize because I don’t want to look weak and I don’t want to say that I was the one who was wrong.
I think that if I apologize but she doesn’t, then I’ve admitted that I was wrong, I’ve lost the argument a given up my point of view.
It would be very difficult to have an argument where both participants don’t need to apologize for at least something. Let me say that again, because when you read that the first time you immediately thought, “oh ya that’s right let me go show that to my wife.” In almost every argument there is something YOU need to apologize for.
The trick is identifying the thing that you did or said wrong, or the thing that you didn’t say, do, or notice. Once you can identify this, something you can own, ask yourself, “Do I mean that?” or “Did what I say hurt when I didn’t want it to?” If the answer is yes you have something to apologize for without taking responsibility for the whole.
Example: “I’m sorry what I said hurt your feelings, that wasn’t my intention” or “I’m sorry that I said ___, I really shouldn’t have and I’m sorry.”
The goal is to express an honest apology without having to change or give up your argument. You are apologizing for a specific unkindness, mistake, or action; not for the whole thing. Just saying “I’m sorry, it’s all my fault” is a cop-out and not an authentic apology.
Get the But Out
As you are forming these great words of apology make sure that you don’t use them as a sword. No one wants a double-edged apology. “I’m sorry but you did ___” negates your apology and puts the blame for the action back on your wife. That isn’t fair, and isn’t right. You are responsible for your own actions. No matter what she did, she did not cause you to do anything. So drop the but, and man up with a real apology.
Practice Makes Perfect
I’m not saying this is an easy skill to master. It will take lots of practice. Fortunately, I mess up a lot, so if you are anything like me you will have lots of time to practice. As you get better you might be able to change the nature of your arguments. Make the winner the person who apologizes first!
Men who apologize: how do you manage to say an apology and feel “manly”?
Men who don’t apologize: why not? What stops you?
Let us know in the comments!