Remember the story of the couple I was invited to counsel, which I began in this column last week? Now it’s taking more interesting twists. Sit back and enjoy the flow, continued from last week.
“Nothing new. She doesn’t speak to me. If she’s with the kids in the sitting room, once I walk in, she just says hello and leaves to her room, the children’s room or balcony. It’s like my presence irritates her more.”
Does this mean you haven’t made any progress? The situation seems even worse compared to how it was before you invited me. What do you think could be the cause?
“I don’t know. I help with the chores, to get the kids ready for school, drop them off at school, return home earlier than usual but she’s still adamant, she even sleeps in the children’s room now” he said
Have you tried to apologize to her like I advised? “But that is what I’ve been doing the past few days. I’m doing things I have never done, but she’s just too stubborn”
What exactly have you done in regards to how sorry you are sir? You haven’t apologized. Your new attitude is not an apology and can never replace genuine apology. I’m very sure she now sleeps in your children’s room because she suspects your next move will be to sneak in on her at night to have sex. What you are doing is part of the change in behavior you put in after a heartfelt apology.
To be very candid you have been nothing but manipulative. Your approach is purely narcissistic. All it will take you is to just apologize. How hard is it to say you are sorry?
“I don’t know what it is, but I find it really not easy to say those words to her. It’s like losing control or giving up a very important part of me. I’m not good at apologising”
But you apologized to me the last time sir! You told me you are sorry. How come you could apologize to a total stranger you haven’t met or offended but cannot do same to your wife of many years and mother of your children. A woman you hurt so badly? What exactly is it about saying you are sorry that will make you any less in-charge?
There was a long silence, just sighs and more sighs. I had to do it my own way, give him the heads up, he wants to apologise but pride won’t allow him to.
Are you home sir? I inquired and he told me he was home. Can you get the phone to your wife? I need to speak to her. After speaking with her, you will do exactly as advised. Are you ready sir?
It took him some time to finally give it a try. Took the phone to his wife and as always she was welcoming and calm. I spoke with her woman to woman, even rattled her husband a little, told her he’s so sorry for what he did but his ego has got a better part of him that he sees telling her sorry as losing control.
She made a shocking revelation to me “My husband has never apologized for any wrong in this marriage. Instead of apologizing, he would buy me gifts, act nice for few days and that is it”. Well, that’s your husband of old, right now he is really sorry and wishes to apologise for hurting you like he did. He’s afraid to lose you, the reason he reached out to me yet again.
Please listen to whatever he has to say. It is up to you to forgive and take him back, it’s also your choice to decide otherwise. But whatever your decision may be, just remember he sees things differently and knows better that he did you a grave wrong. Completed my session with her, shared a few jokes to lighten her mood and requested she returned the phone to him.
As she opened her door to get the phone to him she met him on his two knees with tears in his eyes. He actually finally muttered those words “I’m sorry for hurting you, for taking you for granted. Please forgive me”. Seeing her husband for the first time dripping tears on bended knees saying those words, she was broken. They talked amidst tears. Promises were made. The healing process started immediately. She finally unwrapped the gift she abandoned in the kitchen cabinet. They are not there yet, but they are taking each day at a time and are doing better.
Unfortunately, most of us find it rather hard or awkward to be able to genuinely say sorry when we offend our loved ones. African parents take the discipline thing to the extreme. Many would rather give gifts or ignore the issue completely than apologize. They feel it fizzles, but it doesn’t in most cases.
Giving gifts is not same as saying sorry when you are wrong. If you offend them, apologize and do not monetize it. Gifts should never take the place of genuine apology, not to your spouse even to your kids. Refusing to apologize now will have consequences some day; the outburst may be uncontrollable.
Reach out to your partner, even that ex, your children or subordinates you treated badly, seek forgiveness for the wrong you did. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
We must by every means possible take responsibility for our action and take necessary steps to make restitution. Whether they agree to forgive without getting their pound of flesh, the main issue is that you genuinely seek forgiveness.
Don’t blame them if they choose not to forgive. In finding closure, people have their own ways of going about it and it’s not cast in iron. For some, all they want to hear is a genuine “sorry” from you. Some will forgive you even before you apologise, for others, they want you to suffer much more. It varies, depending on each individual’s pain tolerance and forgiveness thresholds. But you will never know this until you apologize.
A genuine apology will do your mind and soul more good than silence and grandstanding. Learn to apologise and do it right.