Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Comes After Saying I am Sorry

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I think it is part of us as humans to have a sense of fairness and to want justice so if we are forced to apologize against our will, it can be very difficult. Also, if the so-called offender thinks the apology will demean their self-pride, they might shirk from doing the right thing.

When I used to be a school teacher - my mum runs a private school and that was also my first job after NYSC - I got to interact with little kids a lot and learnt a lot from the experience too. One of the things common with a lot of children is that though they are easily offended, they are also quick to forgive.

First though is that they like to report. If you're the only adult or the favorite one in a place with loads of kids, the complaints will be coming thick and fast. "Aunty, B stepped on my foot!" "Aunty, X pinched me!" Aunty, E called me a bad name!" And so on, lol. It's left to you to make the peace as quickly as you can. Most times, this involved calling on the offender to say “I’m sorry.”

In a few of the cases, the offender will say his mind, that the offendee had already done something to him to deserve whatever he did to him along the lines of "He pinched me first!" Then you have to explain why tit-for-tat is not a good idea and the necessity of an apology, maybe a mutual apology.

It's so cute when the belligerent child/ren back down, and one after the other they apologize to each other and make up. If they are close friends before the altercation and one was crying, it is not strange to see the other help them wipe their tears. Before long, they will be playing together and sharing food and toys. The quarel has become a thing of the past and they'll hardly remember it if asked the next day.

Sometimes, we need to be like these children in our relationships. Nobody finds it easy to apologize. We regard it as taking the blame, or accepting responsiblity for the cause of a disagreement, or of accepting everything your partner is putting on you, but this is not sometimes the case. Maybe we need to look at it this way. "I am sorry" is a way to say "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, I still care for you." And this is true, then it should make it easier to say. Not easy, just easier.

However, there is a way romantic relationships often differ from children's friendships. Sometimes, our disagreements are deeper. There are issues. And so "I'm Sorry" is not enough in those situations. If there is no follow up, the apology will simply be a band-aid that might not last for long.

So where an apology will buy you some truce time, it is only a full and honest conversation about any underlying issues that will grant long-lasting peace. I'll be lying if I said having such conversations come easy. No. While it takes love and humility to apologize, you need courage and trust to tackle deeper issues. You have to put your self-pride to the back burner.

One of the early lessons of marriage for me was realizing this, that sometimes an apology - while totally imperative - was not enough. It may work for co-workers and acquaintances, but not for close friends, lovers, and definitely not for a spouse. I had to open myself up even further and discuss why what happened was such a big deal. And it was usually about me, my expectations, and how I felt more than about him or what he did.

With time I discovered that this works wonders. An apology gets me a hug and a kiss, being open and talking about stuff gives us an even deeper bond.

Related Posts

- What is your definition of Trust?

- The Part Where You Apologize

- How to Fight Fair


  1. So many times I wish I could still be a child with all that innocence. Their willingness to forgive AND forget is so amazing!
    Funny, I teach my children to apologize to each other, kiss and make up, without trying to justify their actions but it's so hard to get that right myself.
    Gotta strive to be like a child!
    About conversations and apologies going together, I completely agree.
    Thanks for sharing. I needed this reminder today :)

  2. Great one here! Kudos to this article

  3. Myne this article really touched me deep. We have our first divorce mediation today....  I just finally had enough ofnit all. No apologies and on there rare occasions that there are, they are meaningless.

  4. I like this a lot! You have said it all Myne.

  5. Yes Myne, sometimes, apologies alone are not enough. Discussing what happened has helped me too so many times.

    1. But Eya, I think an apology gives a soft landing for 'other things' to follow.

  6. "So where an apology will buy you some truce time, it is only a full and honest conversation about any underlying issues that will grant long-lasting peace" just nailed it for me

  7. Makes perfect sense, Myne. Insightful post.

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  9. aww thank you!

    BUT I am in a situation where I have apologized a million times and even put my pride aside and all that might be hurting me and I keep trying to see how to work things out but the person in question keeps making me feel like well, I do not deserve to be heard.. what do you do in situations like this?

    In the past, I have blocked the memories and pretended they never happened, for a few months or years, I even block the friendship or relationship out of my memory < that's how I move on>

    Am I wrong to do this? even when I did wrong in the relationship? am I wrong to forget that part of my life?

    1. Hmm, this one eh, Myne, I think we need your own response here o.
      Well Tobi, how I look at it may be different from others. You see this thing called APOLOGY? There are so many ways of going about it. In all those ways, some are better than others. Do you know there is a way I can say SORRY to you and you feel insulted? There is another way and tone of saying that same sorry that you will accept.

      Do not misunderstand me please. I am only trying to say that there are different approaches to this thing. I do not mean that you are not getting it right. Maybe, you need to try different approaches and see if any one works better.

      Again, my dear, I have seen people who do not really know how to react when they are being apologized to. If you put one knee down to say sorry, they just walk past and leave you kneeling there. When you try to explain yourself, they make you feel like what you have done is too bad and you do not deserve to be heard. To such people, I think you should not even bother apologizing. Let things be, give time, live like nothing has happened and after sometime, they naturally get over it and start becoming friendly again. Allow the wahala to die a natural death, do not apologize, because the more you try the angrier they get.
      Maybe you too get angry because they are not giving you a chance to explain yourself.If you know that you did wrong, then, try not to just block the friendship and move on immediately. Take a grip on your emotions and give them some time before you move on OK?

      I'm sorry for replying this long. This is my 1 cent. Not to worry, Myne and others will still give you their own perspective. Takia

    2. A while ago, one of my close friends got offended by something I said to her in jest and she called me ranting and raving, I allowed her finish and apologised but she said she didn't accept it. I kept apologising but she always ignored me and even reported me to another close friend. After a month I stopped trying to apologise but made sure I said always said hi even though she ignores me. All of a sudden early this month she started relating with me again as if nothing transpired between us.

  10. So very true. I like the practicality.

    People really close to us want to see that we're repentant enough to wanna make a change and not just dump stuff under the rug.

  11. "Where an apology will buy you some truce time, its only a full and honest conversation about any underlying issues that would grant long lasting peace"

    That right there is the summary of it all. I'm not one of the ones that feels comfortable talking about issues but I had to learn and yes I know about that bond that comes after.

  12. Apologies go a long way with me. A very long way and someone offending me and not apologising hurts more than what the person even did. I've had to tell myself repeatedly that an apology may never come and I should just move on without it. I enjoyed reading this.

  13. Myne this is spot on. I too learnt in marriage I am sorry isn't just it. You really have to sit down and talk about it. N the more we talk about it the closer we also became. And yes after I am sorry nice cuddling n u know what comes next very gratifying. Lol.

  14. *sigh*. Keeping a relationship is such hardwork! It is someyimes even hard to make it known that the point of d discussion is not to confer blames. I agree that sometimes, we v to revert to the childish way of forgive, move on and forget


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