I have been in love with the same person since I was fourteen years old. I remember it like it was yesterday, although the date was April 1st, 1982. The guy I thought was cute, had asked me to “go out” with him. Not long after we fell in love, and he asked me to marry him.
Although we were very young, he was serious, and had made a ring out of tinfoil, to win my heart, forever. He worked up the courage and gave it to me, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him.
I was not ready. And there were others, for both of us. But life had other plans. Ten years after we graduated high school, we got engaged. There were balloons and tears, and of course a toast with champagne. He knew life would bring us together, and never lost faith.
Today, my husband still has the bigger view of us, while I often can only see us through to the end of the day. There are other differences, as well. He likes to always be with people, while I cherish my alone time. He loves television, I love books. My idea of an ideal vacation is sitting on a beach, somewhere, anywhere. To just be, feeling the sun upon my skin and bury my toes in the sand seems like heaven. While he hates just hanging out, and would prefer to go anywhere, but the beach. My past was rocky, as I endured many challenges, leaving more scars upon my psyche. His, less so, with perhaps a few nicks and cuts, barely visible to the naked eye.
Even with our differences, in many ways, we compliment each other. His strengths are my weaknesses, and mine are his. He does not care what others think. My sensitivity makes it more difficult for me to honor what’s right for me, when it makes others unhappy. He often says, “I am as shallow as a puddle.” I pull him into the deep end for as long as he can tread water. He wears his heart on his sleeve; mine is tucked away, not as easily seen until I have more evidence that it won’t be used against me. I encourage him to enjoy life, spend a little, while he reminds me that we need to save for a rainy day.
When we were teens, we disagreed about the little things, teenage things – what we would do, or what party we would attend. Who we would spend our time with, mostly. Not surprisingly, we still disagree about these things. As much as we change in life, grow up over time, we still often keep the core preferences about ourself the same.
There is not a day that has gone by, whether the sun was shining, our spirits high or the dark clouds lingered above, threatening our mood, that I would take back. When almost losing ourself within an abyss of grief brought on by a devastating pregnancy loss, I could not imagine going through those harrowing moments with anyone else. In some way, it is those moments, those unexpected life events, those moments of loss, that always create a crack within a relationship and throughout our being. Whether you repair it with gold, or allow it to create distance between you, producing an irrevocable break in the relationship, depends on how sturdy the foundation.
My husband is my best friend, my go to, my rock. We can spend hours playing cards, or just hanging out. My biggest laughs and hardest cries has been by his side.
Today, we disagree, sometimes even raising our voices. We get into it fast and furious, our emotions coming on like a tsunami, and withdrawing just as fast. We never linger when we butt heads, and that is only because we have both learned to say, “I’m sorry.”
It feels to me that it is one of the most difficult things for someone to apologize. It seems silly, really. For as humans, we are supposed to mess up, to say something dumb, to make a mistake. It is how we learn. It is the first thing we teach our children when they hurt another, to say they are sorry. Yet, when we grow up, we find it difficult.
The three most important words in a relationship, other than I love you, is to say, I am sorry. To be able to admit to our mistakes brings us closer to one another. To accept someone’s apology, allows us to move on.
Apologizing does not have to be about the big stuff, although that eventually needs to be said for broken relationships to be repaired. Starting small is just as necessary. It can be as simple as, I am sorry for being in a bad mood and taking it out on you. I am sorry for leaving my clothes all over the house. I am sorry for ignoring you when you needed to talk. I am sorry for not filling up the car with gas before you got it back. I am sorry that I got caught up and didn’t make you dinner. I am sorry for forgetting to get your favorite snack or leaving the cap off the toothpaste. Earth shattering? No. Important? Yes.
When we get around to the big stuff, apologizing for how we hurt someone on a grander level, this is where greater healing happens. I am sorry that I had no idea what it meant to be a good parent, spouse or friend. I am sorry that I didn’t take no for an answer. I am sorry that I stole from you.
I am sorry that I neglected you. I am sorry that I talked behind your back. I am sorry that I ghosted you. I am sorry that I could not tell you how I felt. I am sorry that I caused you pain. I am sorry that I cheated. I am sorry that I was addicted. I am sorry that I took my stress out on you. I am sorry that I left. I am sorry that I stayed too long. I am sorry that I blamed you, when it was me that was wrong all along.
There are people alive who cannot get there. Who will always blame others for their mistakes, who cannot allow themself to apologize for even the small stuff, because it would unravel a lifetime of self serving, narcissistic, even abusive behavior. It would mean having to take a cold hard look at what they are truly about. Some people will never get there. It is then, you need to do it for them. Whisper those words to yourself for as long as you need to hear them. If someone you loved has hurt you, and never apologized, it is not too late. Say those words, the ones you needed to hear, and probably still do.
When I take out that tinfoil ring I saved, the one my husband gave me over thirty-five years ago, I see the beauty in his proposal. Love is circular with each disagreement and each apology bringing us deeper, closer towards unconditional loving one another. One cannot truly say I love you, and mean it, if they have never uttered the words, I am sorry.
Love is always having to say you are sorry, for these three words are the answers many are looking for in order to live happily ever after, or at least until infinity and beyond.