Jill arrived at our counseling session a few minutes before her husband, who was stuck in traffic. While we were waiting Jill made an interesting comment. “Maybe I just need to apologize to him but I don’t know what for.”
Giving a sincere apology is a challenge for many people. I think one of the problems many of us have is that we look at an apology primarily as an admission of guilt rather than as a healing balm to the relationship.
The truth is, it really isn’t so important who is right and who is wrong. What is important is that there is a wound that needs to be healed and an apology is a wonderful way (often needful way) to begin that healing process. To effectively use the healing balm of an apology, we need to first swallow our pride and let go of the need to be right. We need to not be so concerned about protecting our own ego as we are of removing the wedge that is interfering with our having a strong, close, loving relationship. A sincere, heartfelt apology can do that.
And as we look at apology in this way, of course we will not limit how often we apologize, thinking somehow we’ve apologized “enough”.
Instead we will look at saying “I’m sorry” in a similar way that we look at saying “I love you”. They are both words of caring, of healing, of connecting, of bonding.
Jill did apologize to her husband once she understood this. She found the words and didn’t worry about “what for”. She began the healing process.