LIFE IN BALANCE- Saying I am sorryAdeshola Ezeokoli
In relationships, especially in marriage, the word “sorry” should be used pretty often. Yet, sometimes an apology given wrongly, or with the wrong attitude can make the offended party feel even worse than if he/she had not even been apologized to. Here are some pitfalls one can avoid when saying those magic words:
1. Not saying it:Have you ever met anyone who for some reason or another would never say the words, “I’m sorry”. This, I suspect may be commoner with men. When people do this they are trying to deny responsibility or just letting pride get in the way. Do not try to substitute with, “That should not have happened”, or, “I understand how you feel”. Just say the words. That tired old line,”love means never having to say you are sorry” is just that: a tired old line. Never admitting wrongdoing tires a relationship, any relationship. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you are always right and that you do not need to apologize for anything.
2. Saying, “I am sorry if I…..”That is a no-no. Saying I am sorry if I hurt you puts a condition on the apology, leaving more unsaid than is said. Left unsaid is “I’m not sorry if I did not……”. The “if” is the one word that ruins the whole apology, and is a sly way of not taking the blame for what you need to apologize about. A better way is to say, I am sorry I hurt you, or offended you, or ruined your dinner.
3. Saying, “I am sorry you feel that way”….That is not an apology, and people can usually see through it. This puts the blame squarely on the other person’s shoulders. It is accusing the other party of feeling the way they feel. You might as well be saying, “I’m sorry you are weak enough to feel slighted by the bad thing I just said/did to you. Can’t you be less sensitive?” The next time you are tempted to say , “I’m sorry you feel that way”, remember what you ACTUALLY sound like.
4. Expecting a return apology:In the case where spouses have a fight and say mean things to each other what happens when one person apologizes for the things they said and the other one does not? Do not demand an apology. Move on, and forgive the other person even if they do not apologize. A lot of people only say sorry because they expect an apology. If you think you are the offended party bring it up later when you are both calm. An apology is not a pre-payment for a “counter-apology”( 🙂 ). It is your acknowledgement of your own part in the situation.
5. Not forgiving: This applies to the so-called offended person. If someone truly apologizes do not throw the apology back in their face: “Well you must have meant it or you would not have said it”. You may discuss what made you angry, upset or hurt, but do not reject a SINCERE apology.
6. Bringing up the past:If your wife burnt your favorite shirt or your husband rode the lawn mower over your prize hydrangeas and they said “I am sorry, it won’t happen again”, please do not keep reminding them of it every time you have fight. It means you have not forgiven them. Do not keep holding the past against them. If you were in their shoes would you like it if someone kept on reminding you of what you did wrong 2 years ago?