5 Things I’ve Learned From Apologizing to My Husband
Updated: Oct 13, 2022
A few years ago, my husband and I were supposed to go to a party. I had just given birth to our first child and was lacking confidence in my brand new postpartum body. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I hijacked our plans with the sole purpose of keeping my husband home- safe, sound, and unexposed to all the beautiful women attending the party. It goes without saying that this was not my proudest moment. I let my insecurities get the best of me and I owed my husband an apology. Over the years, I have had to make many, many apologies. These are the 4 things I’ve learned from apologizing to my husband.
Explaining Isn’t Apologizing
When I “apologized” to my husband about preventing us from attending the party, all I really did was explain myself and try to weasel out of being the cause of tension between us. I wanted him to understand my thought process that had led me to behave the way I did. What I really wanted was to minimize the truth and deflect from the fact that my insecurities took the place of my dignity at that moment. I wanted him to feel sorry for me so that he wouldn’t be annoyed anymore. I was unwilling to take the weight of my mistake and give a real apology.
The trouble with explaining myself when I’m supposed to be apologizing is that I am often tempted to find an easy exit. I end up talking myself into a hole that does nothing to restore my dignity or the intimacy between us. “I’m sorry you couldn’t go to the party. It's only that we just had a baby and I really think we should be home as a family right now” wasn’t a good apology and it wasn’t my truth. I was just hiding, afraid to own my mistake and admit to my insecurity.
One and Done
In order to try to make up for my lousy apologies, I used to apologize over and over again. I would say “I’m sorry” when we were together, then text it to him when he was at work, and so on until it blew over. I was basically trying to “I’m sorry” myself out of feeling guilty. I never felt very dignified when I did this and it only seemed to bug my husband. He would look at me and say, “jeez, I told you it's fine like five times already!” Today, if I owe my husband an apology, I only give it once. But I make it a REAL one- clean, honest, and to the point. I feel much more dignified this way and he seems to respect me more for it.
True Apologies Are Free of Expectations
When I used to apologize, I had an expectation that my husband should take me in his arms, look me in the eyes and say, “Of course I forgive you! You’re the love of my life and there’s nothing you could do to change that!” Instead, I often just got silence, or a shoulder shrug if I was lucky. Then I would get upset with him that he wasn’t instantly over my offense the moment I apologized. I’ve learned that a sincere apology is free. My husband doesn’t OWE me anything in return from it. If I do it simply because of how he will respond, then it’s not an apology, it’s manipulation. Today, if my husband just shrugs his shoulders at my apology, I let it be. He has every right to respond (or not respond) as he wishes. When I don’t waste my time worrying about it, the connection between us is restored much more quickly and organically, I don't have to force anything.
Apologizing Is Vulnerable
The reason I avoided making real apologies for so long is because they are very vulnerable. And I don’t know about you, but I find vulnerability scary. Admitting my mistakes and letting my husband see my darkness and weakness is terrifying. What if seeing that will scare him away and make him stop loving me? Maybe it's better to pretend those parts of me don’t exist, right? Wrong! The beauty about being vulnerable is that it allows for greater levels of trust and intimacy. It allows people to love us deeper for who we truly are- warts and all!
Apologizing Keeps Me Accountable
One of my mentors, Coach Kathy, tells the story of a time she apologized to her husband for a trivial offense. He laughed at her and said, “you don’t need to apologize for every silly little thing!” To which she responded, “it’s just not okay for me to be disrespectful anymore”. When I heard that story, I finally understood. I get to set the standards for the type of woman I am. I may not have offended or bothered my husband in any way, but if I did something that doesn’t align with my values, that is just not okay with me anymore. The best way to realign my values with my actions is to take responsibility and to be accountable.
What have you learned about apologizing in your life? Post in the comments below, I’d love to hear!
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