Well, it turns out that marriage topics seem to be extremely popular here on the blog. That makes me happy as I find I also have quite a bit I can say that can be helpful to you the reader. So let’s keep the marriage ball rolling. Tonight the topic is extremely important for both husbands and wives to learn – saying “I’m sorry” is never enough.
Let me give you an example that it pretty normal for couples. Let’s say the couple is in the car and they are heading out to eat. The wife tells the husband, “I was thinking it might be a good idea if we look at new refrigerators soon because you know ours is getting old and I’d like to learn as much as about them as we can before we have to buy a new one.” The husband then immediately says, “Well that is a stupid idea! Why go look at something new which will make you want a new one and be immediately unsatisfied with what you have, when the one you have is still in perfectly good working condition? Use your head will you!” Ouch!
Next what happens is they both go silent with each other for first a few hours, which then turns into days, which turns into weeks without them talking about what happened. More importantly, without them talking to each other about their feelings. Eventually the husband realizes he just may have said something wrong and he comes home and tells his wife, “Hey, sorry about out talk in the car the other day. We good now?”
No they are not good. ‘Sorry’ for what? For saying something wrong? For hurting his wife? Sorry for what exactly?
His wife is now thinking, “You certainly are sorry. Now what else do you have to say to me?” She is first waiting on a true apology, and then a chance to tell him exactly how that conversation made her feel.
So let’s walk through what really needs to happen here in order for our couple to begin to heal from this poor communication experience.
- Expressing Genuine Regret – “I’m sorry” is a start, but it MUST be followed by EXACTLY what you are sorry for. In this case, “Honey I realize that when I called your idea stupid in the car the other day I hurt you. I am sorry for speaking to you the way I did.” Ahhhh, that’s much better isn’t it? Still not perfect, but at least the husband has now set the stage for them to begin working through their feelings together. Good job my man!
- Accepting Responsibility – Next up, our husband needs to accept full responsibility for his actions and his part in the conversation. This sounds something like, “Honey I was absolutely wrong to speak to you like I did. I own hurting you by speaking to you the way I did. It was thoughtless of me to talk like that. I certainly understand why you are upset because I would be if I were spoken to like that.” All right! Now we are on the good road to recovery. Owning what you say or do is extremely important for both the husband and the wife. This shows you are not just sorry about what happened, you are sorry for your specific part in it and you admit it was wrong.
- Making Restitution – Here is where you ‘make it right’. “Honey, I know I’ve really blown it here. That is no way for a husband to act. I would like for us to talk about how this made you feel because I want you to understand that I care and love you and I owe it to you to listen to you as you tell me how this made you feel. By the way, I’d be happy to go look at new refrigerators with you whenever you are ready.” You can actually hear the sincerity in that sentence can’t you? The husband has made it clear he intends on making it right by seeking to understand his wife’s true feelings.
- Genuinely Express Your Desire To Change Your Behavior – “Honey, I realize this is not the first time I have spoken to you like this, and it has got to stop. You deserve better than this. Can you help me think of what I can do to make sure this stops if I start to do it again?” This gives the wife free reign to nip this action in the bud the very next time it starts. As well, men never enjoy being called on their behavior so the husband will already do a much better job policing his own behavior. Ok we are almost there. One more step to go!!
- Request Forgiveness – This is the last and most crucial step. “Will you please forgive me for speaking to you that way?” This is music to the wife’s ears. A real man will ask for forgiveness and mean it. You see, he is REQUESTING her forgiveness. The wife has the right to say, “Well this really did hurt me a lot. I cannot forgive you right this minute but I am willing to work towards it as quickly as I can.”
These five steps work just as well for wives who has done something that requires forgiveness form their husbands. In fact, these 5 steps are crucial for anyone who hurts anyone else in any manner.
The bottom line is, when we hurt others, especially our spouses or our children, we need to immediately seek forgiveness. To do it correctly, you are going to have to let the hurt person tell you exactly how what you did made them feel. This will be extremely hard at first, but just keep in mind that if it was you who were hurt, you would want to talk about how this wrong made you feel as well. This type of communication is the key to being able to move forward after you have been hurt. Be prepared to hear that what you did or said made your spouse or child feel “worthless”, “betrayed”, “deeply hurt”, “devastated”, “abused”, or one of any of the thousands of negative emotions that exist. But you need to hear these words because when you realize you have the power to make others feel this way, you will be much less likely to continue to act in a hurtful manner.
To have a marriage that lasts, you are going to have to be willing to work at it. You are going to have to be willing to communicate and talk about your feelings. You may not be the type that likes to talk about your feelings, and if this is you, then you need to prepare to struggle in all your relationships.
If you do struggle, I encourage you to seek counseling because we can help you to learn the tools to communicate in ways that are easy for you to do. These methods work and have worked to save many couples marriages.
Thank you for coming to blog tonight. I hope what I have shared with you will be helpful to you in all your relationships.
Have a blessed weekend! With love,
Pastor Brad Komgenick