How to Make Up when You're Not Ready to Apologize...
I like to take examples from my own life. After all, relationships are the classroom of the soul. I’m learning lessons and I would love to share with you.
So recently my partner and I got out of a fighting spell. All relationships have them. Fighting is part of the process. It’s healthy to have a little bit of fighting – that means that you’re still speaking up for yourselves.
Anyway, we were in this fighting spell where it seemed like we couldn’t talk about anything without one of us taking it the wrong way, or it going somewhere dark or spiraling out of control. Ever experience that?
As we get older, we are getting better. We work together, even in our fighting. And we have learned about one another so our fighting has evolved. We don’t fight about the same things or in the same ways. But every once in a while, stress is bound to get one of your panties in a bunch.
This was a week long. And it hurt. It sucks not to have the support of your partner. It sucks to not feel solid at home. It makes the rest of life feel so awful and unstable. Why do you think divorce is so hard? The foundation of your life is ripped out from underneath you.
You may find this hard to believe, but I am the one that has a hard time apologizing first. I’m all for personal accountability, but I can be super stubborn and my anger is just the same. I also believe in authenticity and I refuse to apologize if I don’t mean it. I personally believe that apologizing too early is akin to sweeping issues under the rug and never resolving them.
But when you stay angry too long, or keep getting into it, how do you stop the cycle?
In this particular fight I was so sick of being at odds. I was still mad, and definitely had legitimate reasons to be mad. But so did he, because we were both puppies shitting on each others’ rugs.
I knew that all of the things circling in my mind weren’t going to get me where I wanted to be. I knew, mentally, that if I wanted to get where I wanted to be, I had to stop the pattern and the energy behind it.
So I started with what was true and asked myself some questions.
Do I want us to be good? I don’t know. I could be mad for another week. (Stubborn Amber.)
Ok, fair enough. But if we want the marriage to work, we have to get off of this high horse, yes? Yes.
And apologize eventually? Yes, but I’m not ready to apologize. Do you even know what HE DID!? AND SAID?!
Yes, but stop that. Ego get out, Spirit get in! That thought is NOT going to help here. It has no purpose. Get it out and knock it off. (You have to give your mad self a little tough love sometimes.) (Deep breath…reluctance…) Ok.
Ok, great. Is it true that most days you like him? ….Yeah.
Great, Is it true that most days you love him? …. Yeah.
Is it true that most days you would like to be married to him? ………………(long pause)……………………….(sigh)………………..………..Yes.
Great, then it is in your best interest to at least reach out. You don’t have to say anything that is not true. Just start with what is true.
So this is what I said:
“Babe, I know we aren’t communicating well this week. And it makes me sad. I look forward to when we are communicating well again. I miss us. I miss you.”
I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. That all felt 100% authentic in the moment. Here is why it worked. (And I’m saying this post-analysis, I did not manipulate it to get him to do anything against his will).
1. First, I know we’re not communicating well this week - I included us both not in a blaming space, but in an unfortunate situation that was downplayed from the emotion – it was taken back out of it for a moment and seemed less threatening to the relationship. Always try to respond in a proportionate amount to the actual situation. Over-exaggerating and saying something always happens builds it up in your mind subliminally.
2. I stated how it made me feel - it makes me sad– again not something he did, but a situation we were in together. This also re-established the bond that we are in it together. We weren’t two separate entities doing anything to each other.
3. I look forward to when we are communicating well again. This was a future-pacing of when we would be good again. I communicated that it was important to me that we would be in a good space again.
4. Then I followed it up with what I think of us normally – something I really like and miss deeply. And stating that I missed him specifically underlines how important he is to me.
All of these things were true. And notice, I didn’t apologize before I was ready, but I did change our tone immediately with the wishes to change it and enjoy a better future together. Sometimes your partner may need to hear what you want and desire with them. Not everyone is affected at the same rate, but some people need to hear that their relationship is still safe and that their partner still desires them.
Now if it were my partner he probably would have apologized immediately. He is much better at it than I am. But he is my teacher. And I’m not perfect. I’m en route though J Our goal should never be to be perfect. You will be so hard on yourself when you miss the mark. It is much better to pick up the pieces – together – and move on. Embrace being the student. Don’t take anything too seriously if it’s really not.