My least favorite part about being married is apologizing all the time. It’s the worst. I’ll say something ugly or harsh, I’ll do something selfish, I’ll act withdrawn and cold. And then I’ll move on and God will catch my breath and tell me firmly, you need to say you’re sorry for that. Without a spoken word, I’ll throw an internal temper tantrum that could rival any toddler in Toys R Us. But he doesn’t understand! He doesn’t know how hard this is for me! This isn’t FAIR!
Thankfully (more honestly: annoyingly), God doesn’t waver in disciplining His kids (Hebrews 12:6). You need to say you’re sorry for that, He’ll remind me again.
And sometimes it takes a slamming-the-cabinets kitchen cleanup or a long shower or 17 unnecessary chores before I squash my swollen pride and apologize to my husband. But I do it.
When Riley and I were in premarital counseling, we spent hours and hours talking about conflict and conflict resolution. How conflict is normal, and healthy conflict is a good thing, and apologies should be made sincerely and quickly and often. Having grown up in a family where there were very few apologies (save the forced gritted teeth “I’m sorry I hit you” to my siblings), I literally cringed when apologizing was brought up. It hadn’t been modeled to me and I hadn’t practiced it. Our premarital counselors noticed my physical reaction immediately. “Is this really uncomfortable for you?” they asked.
It felt so foreign apologizing for all the little things. I’m sorry I wasn’t kind when I asked you to take out the trash. I apologize for being short with you on the phone earlier. I’m sorry that I didn’t make your lunch when I said that I would. If I did this–if I said I was sorry for every little thing–wouldn’t I be apologizing constantly?
Riley and I apologize to one another all the time. For all kinds of things. It’s like a part of our daily routine. The worst part of our daily routine. Swallowing pride and what’s fair and laying down my need to be right so that my marriage can be right is the worst, hardest part of my day everyday. But we’re doing it. (He’s much better at it than I am.)
We’re apologizing all the time everyday because it’s worth it to sweat the small stuff in our marriage.
Because we’re only human, and we’re hot messes, and we do the wrong things and speak ugly words all the time. And what was just an eye roll, what was just a quip, what was just a little outburst will turn into a massive relational mess over time. We’ve decided to do the hard, soul-refining work of apologizing often. We keep short accounts on each other. We often ask “how do you think we’re doing?”
I used to be a simmerer. I’d get offended, annoyed, enraged, and I’d let it simmer because I didn’t have the courage to bring it up. (News flash: this does not work!) Now, I have to give words to my issues with a heart of resolution. And this is hard too because it’s like choosing to open up messy cans of worms over and over and over again. It’s much easier to let things build, build, build and then explode completely on your spouse in an all-out knock-down fight.
But it’s worth it. It matters that we sweat the small stuff. I don’t constantly question whether my husband is upset with me. I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself all the time. I don’t feel ashamed and angry with myself for sinning against Riley.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’ll say it again and again. And I don’t know if it’ll ever get easier to voice, but I know I’m being refined by my Jesus, strengthening my marriage, and laying a solid foundation down for our future family. So all this “don’t sweat the small stuff” mess? Yeah, I don’t subscribe to that at all.
// Do you sweat the small stuff in your marriage? If you’re not married, do you sweat the small stuff in relationships?
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