But You Never Said 'I'm Sorry'!
tagged: arguing, apologizing, learning
The other day, Caleb and I got in a little fight. I don’t even remember what it was about, only that I was mad, and that his response made me even madder. What was his response you might ask? He would NOT apologize! Even after we resolved whatever issue it was, and moved on, that stupid little voice kept going, "but Sam…he never said he was sorry". So, me being me, I waited until a good time a few days later to calmly bring it up (aka 11 pm on a Sunday when he had PT at 5 am the following day and I may or may not have ambushed him with angry Sam as he came out of the bathroom) and gently mentioned (angrily accused?) that he hadn’t said he was sorry!
He calmly (for real calmly, not Sam calm) explained that he had thought about what I said, figured out how to fix it, and taken the steps to do just that. And then looked at me, expectantly. Right…but you NEVER SAID SORRY. He looked at me like I was nuts. Why, he asked, did I need him to say sorry when he had done all these other things to make amends? I petulantly argued back, but about two minutes in realized I had no argument. More than that, he was totally right. (Which, I should mention, I never said to him – so he’s going to be quite excited when he reads this.)
But there it is, in black and white. Here it is again, just in case he missed it:
He was right.
Why did I need him to say he was sorry when he had, in fact, done better than just saying sorry? He had genuinely thought about what I had said, had taken visible steps to correct the action, and had told me how much he had taken what I said to heart. So…why? Why did I need him to say it? Obviously he was sorry, or he wouldn’t have done all that. I was half listening to him explain how silly I was being when I heard him say that he had fixed the problem, why did I need more?
Ding, ding, ding! I zoomed in on that one word – FIXED – and had my a-ha! moment.
He’s a man. A man in the Marine Corps. Words are pointless to him, it’s actions that matter. He took the information I presented him with, took steps to solve the issue, and informed me of his actions. Problem fixed.
But me? I am certainly not a Marine. I am definitely not a man. I am a woman, and more than that, I am a writer. Words are, you might have noticed, my bread and butter. I needed to hear him say he was sorry, not just tell me how he fixed it. I needed him to tell me because, in my flowy, frantic, emotional brain, he wasn’t really sorry until he said so – which obviously isn’t true. It turns out that old saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ was right on. Apparently, this is something I am going to need to keep in mind when Caleb and I have arguments. It’s going to be hard. I like words. But if he fixes the problem, I don’t really have grounds to keep arguing.
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