Lately, I have been practicing how to say sorry when I make mistakes, especially in marriage. I often expect my husband, Edric, to humble himself first and apologize to me. My stupid reason is, well, he’s the spiritual leader. So being the one to initiate reconciliation is not my default mode. I assume that it should be his.
Edric is a very good apologizer, too. There is no such word as apologizer but I couldn’t think of another descriptor. Usually, he will recognize that he is wrong soon after (when he is in fact in the wrong), and ask for my forgiveness soon after he wounds my feelings or does something to offend me. This convicts me to ask for his forgiveness, too, for my ugly responses and negativity.
However, waiting on him to make the first move allows me to get away with pride. It’s the selfish way of saying sorry. I don’t want to budge until he does because I keep thinking, he should repair this as the man.
I praise God that He is a loving Father who is committed to changing me everyday. So His recent character project is teaching me how to say sorry as immediately as possible versus letting me get so comfortable with my hostile silence.
Take for instance a few nights ago, after a meeting with friends, where Edric corrected me for cutting him off and contradicting him in front of others. At first I over explained myself and pointed out his errors, trying to avoid the root issue of my disrespect. Finally, God told me, “Just say sorry. Why do you have to excuse your behavior and try and shift the blame to him?”
He was right.
So I turned to Edric in the car ride and asked for his forgiveness. “Will you forgive me for my disrespect?”
He accepted my apology, but he wasn’t sweet towards me right away. I had to wait for his emotions to settle which annoyed me initially. Then I thought, Why should I be upset? Since I already apologized, I am liberated. Whether or not he says sorry to me for what he can improve on, and whether or not he treats me with kindness afterwards is no longer my problem. I am free! I did my part.
By the evening, however, our relationship was back to normal and we went to bed at peace before God and toward one another. Edric also identified areas that he could change in himself. There was no residual bitterness. Thankfully, our conflict was resolved pretty quickly, which is also why I believe I need to say sorry as soon as possible. It ministers to Edric’s heart when I do so and the hurt doesn’t linger into the next day.
It’s still hard to say sorry first but once I manage to utter the words, “Will you forgive me,” it’s like unplugging a stuck up drain. The rest of what I need to say follows, and that release feels so spiritually cleansing and so right for our relationship.
I used to think that saying sorry before Edric does was the weak thing to do. But it’s not. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in us. Although Ruth Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers,” I also think a happy marriage is the union of two good apologizers. Forgivers and apologizers similarly require humility and both are necessary for healthy communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy in marriage.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16