Last night I spilled a 16 ounce bottle of ice water in the master bed while we were laying down watching a movie. “Move” I screamed, jumping as fast as a six month pregnant woman can jump. The water was swimming pool cold and all 16 ounces of it had made it’s way out of the bottle, onto the sheets and comforter and was now soaking into the mattress. “I’m so sorry” I told my husband, expecting him to be pissed. But to my surprise he was cracking up laughing. He wasn’t even slightly upset. He thought it was hilarious. We grabbed towels, soaked up the water as best we could, then changed the bedding. A few minutes later we were back in bed continuing the movie.
We’ve been together four years now yet somehow I still forget just how much it takes to make him upset. He never gets mad over accidental mishaps, and it takes a lot in general to get him upset. He doesn’t understand why it’s so hard for me to understand this. The answer lies in the past.
Before I met my husband I formed the habit of apologizing in relationships. I remember apologizing to an ex after a car accident even though he was the one driving. He asked me to help him take down his paintings from the downtown Argo Tea. Rather than park three blocks away and carry the heavy paintings, I suggested he park in front with blinkers. In route he was nicked by a pickup truck. Apparently it was my fault this fateful fender bender happened because I had suggested we move the car closer. I spent the rest of the evening apologizing profusely to a very disgusted boyfriend.
Throughout my 20’s I got very good at apologizing. I apologized for too much traffic, if a movie choice hadn’t been the best, if the restaurant wait was unfortunately long. Once I even apologized for a pink towel. The Pink Towel My comfortability with apologizing for things that weren’t my fault was ridiculous. And when something was actually my fault, the apologies were even bigger. Once at a black tie birthday party I left the present in the car, causing my date to have to go back to the car to get it. I felt terrible for the inconvenience. But how much apologizing is too much apologizing? And can you really be happy in a relationship filled with apologies?
Realizing Excessive Apologizing Isn’t Normal
Because this was my sense of normal, I never really thought there was anything wrong with how much I felt the need to apologize. I was constantly living on eggshells in my dating life. My parents were happily married and if anything comically stubborn and unapologetic. I don’t know where I learned to assume blame and fault. A few months into dating my now husband, I can remember a feeling of “at ease”. After months of apologizing and being told not to apologize I was finally relaxing. I was fascinated with how little he ever seemed frustrated or upset with me. He didn’t freak out when there was traffic and he certainly didn’t blame me for it. Even when I legitimately did something worthy of apology he was quick to forgive and move on. We rarely argued, and I rarely felt the lingering pressure to “not mess up.” I started to question past relationships and whether or not they had been as normal or healthy as I’d thought they were. Perhaps I hadn’t “messed them up”. Perhaps it was a blessing they’d all ended.
How to Stop Apologizing
Now some four years later I give advice to my unmarried girlfriends. With every failed relationship I hear those familiar words, “I messed it up”. I question why or how they think it was their fault. I try to express to them what seems so obvious to me now, but was absolutely blinding back then. Life can be tough. We will legit mess up in so many categories of life; work, friendship, family, etc. With that said, we can’t afford to live on egg shells with our partner.
A partnership should be fun, loving and supportive. How can it be any of those things if we are constantly feeling pressured to apologize and not mess things up? A true healthy partnership brings a greater since of peace, positive energy, laughter and fun.
So how can you change if you are in fact an over apologizer? You can choose to stop. In the moment, ask yourself if the event is actually your fault. And if it isn’t then stop apologizing.
Also evaluate your anxiety levels. When with your partner do you mostly feel joy? Do you find yourself smiling and laughing? Or is there a subtle reminisce of anxiety and fear of messing things up? Are you on eggshells?
Sometimes we fear being alone, or we overemphasize the great qualities our partner has on paper to convince ourselves that we should be lucky to be paired with them. Maybe your partner is very attractive, super smart, liked by friends or family, or advanced in their career. But none of this matters if your time spent together is on eggshells. 3 Godly Reasons You’re Settling in Love
Trust that there is something better for you. Trust me, that it feels amazing to accidentally spill ice water all over the bed, soaking your spouse only to hear the sound of his laughter!