I try to keep my personal life out of my column as much as possible. When asked, I say it’s to keep my private life just that – private. Truth be known, I do this so as not to embarrass myself too much by announcing to the world all my faults and bad habits. However, something happened recently to make me stop and think, and at the risk of proving once again I too am only human, I thought I’d share it with you.
My wife, Diane, was on her way out and I asked her to pick something up for me at the store. Upon her return, I fumbled through the bags she brought home but failed to find the item I had requested. When I inquired of her where the item was, she gave me one of those “Oh no, I forgot,” looks and told me she had forgotten all about it and apologized.
Being the big hearted, considerate and understanding person I am, I of course graciously accepted her apology and forgot the whole thing – right? Wrong! No, I’m embarrassed to say I did not. Rather than accepting her apology (which she truly meant by the way), I let out one of those long, heavy sighs – you know the sigh, the one that lets the other person know how thoroughly disgusted you are with them and that life as you know it may end right then and there. Yeah, one of those.
Of course I didn’t stop there – why should I? I was on a roll, and when making yourself look like a complete idiot, it takes true effort and attention to detail. So following my Academy Award winning sigh, I promptly let loose with a tirade of insulting and demeaning remarks, one of my favorite being, “I ask you to do just one simple thing and…”. Oh yeah, like I said before, I was on a roll.
I did eventually realize how silly and mean I had acted and promptly apologized to Diane. Okay, maybe not so promptly, but I did get it done. (Diane also reads my column.) What I want to get across is not that I am capable of acting like a jerk from time to time – that goes without saying. But rather to use this as an illustration to show how easy it is for us to ignore someone’s apology simply so we may get in a condescending comment or two just to make certain they understand they somehow failed us and we didn’t appreciate it.
The problem with not accepting or minimizing an apology is this only escalates the problem. A snide comment in the face of an apology will only serve to create hostility and resentment. Furthermore, by doing so they’ll be much less likely to apologize in the future or worse yet, this will cause them to be just as unreasonable to us when it is our turn to make the apology.
An apology gives us a perfect opportunity to openly discuss and resolve issues and problems. It also serves as a wonderful chance to show and grow the love we have for each other. I only hope the next time Diane offers me an apology I’ll be big enough to suppress the urge to act childish and accept it with the grace and love in which it was given.