Saying “I’m Sorry” First CAN Feel Really Good

 

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Whenever I hear about a married couple discussing a fight they had years ago, I often hear a phrase related to the fact that they no longer remember what the actual fight was about.  They remember the feelings of hurt and anger, but for the life of them, they can’t tell you WHAT the issue was that started the epic fight.  What’s interesting about this, is that at the time, the WHAT you are fighting about is so very, very important.  But, within minutes, you lose sight of that and all you can think about is that you are right and the other person is wrong.  Why can’t the other person see that they are WRONG!?  The argument then goes from a minor disagreement about leaving laundry on the floor or not closing the toothpaste tube properly into something bigger, where you say and bring up things that have absolutely nothing to do with the WHAT whatsoever.  The “new what” is now HOW you are fighting.

Now, I don’t think my husband and I have any more or less disagreements than the next couple.  I think a disagreement here and there is bound to happen when you spend so much time with someone.  But, after six years of marriage, I am finally understanding the difference between a healthy and unhealthy way to disagree.  The unhealthy one involves me being stubborn that I am right and he is wrong.  The unhealthy one involves any length of the silent treatment.  The unhealthy one involves me generalizing his behaviors.  The healthy one involves me saying “I’m sorry” first.  The healthy one involves being angry or frustrated for only a brief period of time.  The healthy one involves us eventually laughing about the ridiculousness of what we’re fighting about.  So, essentially, the healthy one involves a lack of ego, not clinging onto negative emotions, and a dose of humor.  I’ve discovered that all of these healthy ways to disagree are also concrete ways that I can be more in the present moment during a disagreement.

One of the biggest compliments I’ve received about my marriage is that we really seem like a team.  I especially love to think that is true now that we have children.  We truly enjoy spending our days and nights together.  What can I say, the guy gets my jokes and I get his.  Even the best functioning teams don’t always get along though.  But, I’m starting to learn that whichever team member says “I’m sorry” first is not being the “bigger” person but the more “present” person.  If either one of you can commit to being in the present, the other can hardly stay entrenched in the past for too long.  And, even if being in the present moment doesn’t seem to work at first, continue to stay there and the other person will eventually join you.

Once you discover this new way to argue, going back to the previous way will seem like a ridiculous notion.  Sure, there won’t be that exciting drama- you’ll get used to it.  And, if there are disagreements about the substantial “whats” (e.g., the wellbeing of the kids, the finances, where to live), you will be more likely to figure them out together in times of clarity and calm, because the arguments about the trivial “whats” that turn into the unbearable “hows” will no longer consume you.

 

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3 thoughts on “Saying “I’m Sorry” First CAN Feel Really Good

  • Casey

    Thanks for the tips, Liz. I’m guilty of many of the unhealthy things on the list, especially when overtired from parenting. Nearly all the time, the fight isn’t worth the time or energy.

    • PSadmin Post author

      I think we’re all guilty, but I’ve also found that releasing myself of that guilt in addition to finding some healthier ways to disagree is important. And, I’m totally with you on the over-tired thing!

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