I had a friend who approached her husband with an issue not too long ago. She related to me she was calm, kind, communicated well and “did everything right.” She said he got defensive and said he was hurt by what she said to him. And so of course, then they proceeded to argue.
“What else could I have done? I just don’t know how to talk to him sometimes.” My answer was:
“Well, did you apologize?
“Did you apologize? Did you say you were sorry?’
“What? Why would I do that? I didn’t do anything wrong!”
I said, “could you just say you were sorry his feelings were hurt.”
“But I didn’t hurt his feelings; I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Seeing I was not getting my point across, I said “let me ask you a question. Do you care about your husband? Do you care about his feelings? Are you concerned when he is hurt or something is bothering him?” She answered in the affirmative or course, because she does care for him and doesn’t want him to hurt, and she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. So I said, “so can you just say I’m sorry your feelings are hurt? I didn’t mean for what I said to hurt you?”
“BUT I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG!”
Sounds crazy doesn’t it? It doesn’t make logical sense that we would apologize to even our most intimate relationships if we are not in the wrong. It kind of goes against the grain of who we are as humans to take responsibility for hurting someone when it’s not our fault. We don’t like being at fault and we don’t like making mistakes, much less owning up to them.
But there is a greater good here; a much more important principle at work here. We all want to be cared for and know that how we feel matters to those who love us!
And so, we care less about if we are wrong or not, and care more for the way our partners and loved ones feel. It doesn’t really matter who is at fault, if anyone, or if you did something wrong. What really matters and is the most important is if we show and express that we care for how our partner’s feel and that they know the issue being talked about is not as important as we think they are.
The task or the issue will rarely, if ever, be more important than the person! Just Apologize
I wonder what would have happened after my friend’s husband got hurt if my friend had just said: “I’m sorry babe. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” It might just have calmed the situation, soothed his feelings and what became an argument would have dissipated.
Can we get past the fault finding and just care? Think about it.