Why We Apologize

2017 is right around the corner, and I think I speak for everyone when I say it's time for a fresh start! There's something invigorating about hitting the reset button and starting from scratch... and that's what this post is about.

You see, there's something that inevitably accompanies love: Pain.

When I got married 4 months ago the last thing I wanted to do is hurt my wife. But no matter how hard I try, no matter how much effort I put into our relationship, no matter how many skills I put into practice, I inevitably say (or don't say) or do (or don't do) something that causes her pain.

Funny thing about us humans, when something causes us pain, we instinctively pull away from it.

So, when you get burned by the stove, poked by a needle, or punched in the face you flinch. You protect yourself. You put  distance between you and the threat. You do this because your brain hates pain. And the crazy thing about your brain processes pain... it isn't biased... emotional pain and physical pain trigger the same response in your noggin, so your reaction to getting hurt physically or emotionally is the same.

That means when you hurt your partner, their instinct is to withdraw. Or, to get more personal, every time I hurt my wife, it puts distance between us. So, if you (or I) want any sort of closeness or intimacy in your (my) relationship this whole "emotional retreat" thing causes some problems.

So now it's time to bust a big myth Adam Savage style: Your whole life you've been taught to apologize when you're wrong, or when you make a mistake. This is great advice! Being accountable for your screw-ups is a trait found in good humans everywhere. But it's not why you apologize to your partner.

You apologize to your partner because they are hurting, and they've pulled away. You apologize to them because, whether you meant to or not, your words or actions were the emotional fire, the needle, or the punch to the face. If you want to restore the intimacy and closeness needed for your relationship to work, you need to say, "I'm sorry."

You must apologize to offer your partner the gift of healing.

You must apologize when you offend her or hurt her feelings on accident.

You must apologize when you disrespect him or emasculate him unintentionally.

You must apologize even when you're right. You must apologize when your wrong. You must apologize when you hurt your partner, because when you cause them pain and don't heal that pain, you put distance between you and your love. You jeopardize the strength and integrity of your relationship.

Give yourself, your partner, and your relationship a fresh start. Apologize. Heal each other. It's the most beautiful gift you can give the person you love.