Week Four: Apology and Forgiveness

Welcome to Week Four of “National Relationships Month.”

Relationships are a delicate dance of proximity/separation. We get near by connecting with the other’s experiences, feelings and wishes, using communication. Sometimes, we misread the other person’s feelings or needs… and go ahead with our own decisions, straight to disaster.

Here is an example for you:

 Joan was very self-contained and never asked directly for what she wanted; she would prefer suggesting ideas to her husband as gifts for her. Of course, this attitude left him in the dark… and bent over by TV ads, he decided that she needed a new vacuum cleaner.

Of course, when it’s clear it is not what she wanted, he then realizes he has to justify his decision: “Dear, I know you need one, and buying tools is a good decision. They last for ever and you can do the best job in the house.”

In her mind, Joan takes his decision to heart and runs with it. She feels now that he is a stranger to her feelings and doesn’t understand “the real her”; that he is ruining her fantasies of being understood and valued, by reducing her to a maid, etc.

 Saying thanks politely, she accepts the gift while in her mind she takes refuge on to dream up new desires, which only include herself and her unsolved needs.

 Let’s say she eventually comes out and tells him that she wishes he had understood her needs better. Even if he apologizes now for not getting her the gift that she suggested, the gap is there. How could he apologize as to bridge the gap (and appear again as understanding her deep needs?).

The Importance of Apologizing

 Can you think back to a time in your relationship when an apology would have made everything go infinitely smoother? Can you explain why your apology wasn’t forthcoming (even if it came later, when it helped less)?

 We’ve saved the text on apology for last because quite often, being told to apologize to your spouse is a bitter pill for people to take. “It’s not me, it’s them,” is an excuse we hear from more people than you’d think.

However, apology is the last step every partner must take toward relationship repair. How can you possibly heal a broken relationship if you don’t let your partner know that you’re sorry the two of you aren’t together? That you’re sorry that you didn’t handle your end of things better?

 Hopefully by now, you’ve realized that even with the best intentions (“I always did my best and never tried to hurt him/her”), we can still starve our partners emotionally by not meeting their needs the way they need them to be met.

And here is Case Number 6

Ready to dig in into this challenging but necessary step to heal your relationships? Here is the forum to post and discuss your reactions.