Warning: They can be painful
You can get Aleteia inspiration and news in your inbox. Our specially curated newsletter is sent each morning. The best part? It's free.
Guys hate asking for directions. You know the stereotype: The family is on vacation, and they are hopelessly lost in an unfamiliar place. Dad is behind the wheel and he’s convinced he can find his way. The wife helpfully suggest stopping to ask a local for directions, but the husband snaps back that he is perfectly capable of navigating and he doesn’t need any help. And on it goes.
Now, where did this stereotype come from? Is this really about men’s desire to be good navigators? Of course not. The real problem is that we men hate to admit we were wrong.
What man wants to admit that he took the wrong exit? What man wants to admit his wife was right when she said turn right and not left? What man wants to admit he didn’t know what he was doing? I sure don’t!
Yes, admitting we were wrong is one of the hardest things for us men to do. The reason is simple: We all enter this world with defective and abnormally large egos. Without proper treatment, these egos manifest themselves in all manner of severe symptoms: Anger, impatience, unkindness, irritability, stubbornness, resentment, inconsiderateness, envy, etc. And guess what? All of those sins can place a great strain on our marriages.
You see, pride is the enemy of healthy relationships. It is the root sin behind a host of other toxic sins, all of which hurt those who are closest to us, especially our wives. Is your marriage struggling? It probably has something to do with pride. Believe me, unchecked pride can destroy a marriage faster than anything else. It is a disease that rots away the bonds of sacrificial, self-giving love that every marriage should be founded upon.
But not to worry, the Great Physician has a prescription for the deadly disease of pride, namely the three powerful but painful little words I referenced in the title of this post. What are they? “I am sorry.”
It really is so simple. Were you a jackass, were you a jerk? Did you really mess up? Apologize, and mean it!
Yet, truth be told, few things are quite so difficult for us men to do. Apologizing hurts—it deflates those enlarged egos I mentioned. It makes us feel small. It’s more than a bit humiliating. But what of it? Get over it. If you don’t learn to admit your faults and apologize for them, your marriage is going to suffer. Resentment will set in, anger will mount, hurts will fester. Before you know it, the smallest disagreements will become fodder for angry shouting matches.
Here’s the thing, as men, no matter how far we advance in holiness, we can never expect not to sin. We are going to hurt our wives with our words and actions. We are going to get angry and say things we regret. We are going to be knuckleheads. It’s inevitable. The question is, when it happens, what are we going to do about it?
I learned early on in my own marriage the power of asking for forgiveness. I have lost count of the times I have been selfish and insensitive toward my wife. Yet, as soon as I become aware of a sin I have committed toward her, I strive to apologize for it and make it right as soon as possible. The beautiful thing is, my wife always rushes to forgive me, and often, she apologizes for her own sins if she is at fault. Does it hurt to apologize? Yes, every single time. But it has kept our marriage healthy and happy.
You see, healthy relationships on this side of heaven are not about never sinning. Rather, they are about learning to repent and forgive seventy times seven. We are in a school of love, and our Lord wants to teach us to love like he does, all the way to the cross. Men, if you want a happy marriage, learn to say I’m sorry from the heart. Do it as many times as it takes (it will be thousands). You’ll be amazed at the results.