I can’t remember the conversation beforehand but I do remember that I was in trouble—lots of trouble. I had said something insensitive and was not doing well formulating an apology.
My wife and I laid side by side, sharing the same darkness and the same doona, in silence. I knew it was my turn to say something. Something helpful.
What should I say?
Thoughts were racing through my mind. I remember feeling very disappointed in myself for mistreating my wife. I felt like a bad person.
My words so far had been very hurtful. As had my attempt at an apology thus far. I hadn’t meant to say what I had said and I was sorry. But I couldn’t figure out the best way to say that.
Finally I decided to simply say, “I’m sorry.” But as I spoke, I thought, sometimes I am such a useless person. So, my planned words and my unplanned thought combined to fill the dark void with, “I’m a sorry person.”
Great, I thought, I’ve done it again. That didn’t help at all.
Then I heard something unexpected from the other side of the bed. It started as a sniffle, turned into a giggle and then became convulsions of laughter. When my wife was finally able to catch her breath, she said, “Truer words have never been spoken.” Then she went back into hysterics and I joined her in tears of laughter and relief.
There is something very healing about a good laugh. It has the power to turn bitter tears into sweet ones. The tissue box was still being used but for a very different reason.
My wife and I now have a new technique for disarming potential setbacks in our relationship that involve me blurting and her hurting. Upon hearing me say something bordering on insensitive she says, “You know, you’re a sorry person.” And I gingerly step across my freshly dropped eggshells, wrap my arms around her and say, “Yes. More sorry than I can say. I love you.”
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For more parenting pondering,
see the "Parently" section of this blog.