What Comes After Saying I am Sorry
I think it is part of us as humans to have a sense of fairness and to want justice so if we are forced to apologize against our will, it can be very difficult. Also, if the so-called offender thinks the apology will demean their self-pride, they might shirk from doing the right thing.
When I used to be a school teacher - my mum runs a private school and that was also my first job after NYSC - I got to interact with little kids a lot and learnt a lot from the experience too. One of the things common with a lot of children is that though they are easily offended, they are also quick to forgive.
First though is that they like to report. If you're the only adult or the favorite one in a place with loads of kids, the complaints will be coming thick and fast. "Aunty, B stepped on my foot!" "Aunty, X pinched me!" Aunty, E called me a bad name!" And so on, lol. It's left to you to make the peace as quickly as you can. Most times, this involved calling on the offender to say “I’m sorry.”
In a few of the cases, the offender will say his mind, that the offendee had already done something to him to deserve whatever he did to him along the lines of "He pinched me first!" Then you have to explain why tit-for-tat is not a good idea and the necessity of an apology, maybe a mutual apology.
It's so cute when the belligerent child/ren back down, and one after the other they apologize to each other and make up. If they are close friends before the altercation and one was crying, it is not strange to see the other help them wipe their tears. Before long, they will be playing together and sharing food and toys. The quarel has become a thing of the past and they'll hardly remember it if asked the next day.
Sometimes, we need to be like these children in our relationships. Nobody finds it easy to apologize. We regard it as taking the blame, or accepting responsiblity for the cause of a disagreement, or of accepting everything your partner is putting on you, but this is not sometimes the case. Maybe we need to look at it this way. "I am sorry" is a way to say "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, I still care for you." And this is true, then it should make it easier to say. Not easy, just easier.
However, there is a way romantic relationships often differ from children's friendships. Sometimes, our disagreements are deeper. There are issues. And so "I'm Sorry" is not enough in those situations. If there is no follow up, the apology will simply be a band-aid that might not last for long.
So where an apology will buy you some truce time, it is only a full and honest conversation about any underlying issues that will grant long-lasting peace. I'll be lying if I said having such conversations come easy. No. While it takes love and humility to apologize, you need courage and trust to tackle deeper issues. You have to put your self-pride to the back burner.
One of the early lessons of marriage for me was realizing this, that sometimes an apology - while totally imperative - was not enough. It may work for co-workers and acquaintances, but not for close friends, lovers, and definitely not for a spouse. I had to open myself up even further and discuss why what happened was such a big deal. And it was usually about me, my expectations, and how I felt more than about him or what he did.
With time I discovered that this works wonders. An apology gets me a hug and a kiss, being open and talking about stuff gives us an even deeper bond.
- What is your definition of Trust?
- The Part Where You Apologize
- How to Fight Fair