I had been out of town for three days. When I returned, I found that my wife had one of the chairs in our bedroom reupholstered. She asked, "How do you like it?"
I replied, "I like it, but to be honest, I liked the old color better."
She broke into tears. "I spent two weeks trying to find the right colors,” she said. "I thought you would like it."
I could have tried to defend my comment, but I said, "I'm sorry, honey. I should have looked more closely before responding. I do like it, and I appreciate all of your efforts to get the right color."
After hearing this story, one husband said, "You really did like the former color better. Why should you apologize because she got upset?"
This man's comments reflect an attitude many husbands have during disagreements with their wife. So they settle for a fractured marriage, refusing to accept responsibility for careless words or ill-thought actions.
If I hurt my wife, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I should apologize. When my behavior puts an emotional barrier between my wife and me, it's my responsibility to try to remove the barrier. Apologizing does not mean that what I did was morally wrong; it means that I am deeply concerned that I have hurt her.
Most wives will respond positively when we admit our mistakes, when we acknowledge our careless comments or our preoccupation with other things.
A gentle approach
So the next time your wife explodes at your behavior, why not say, "Honey, obviously I have hurt you deeply. Tell me why it hurts you so much." Then listen, express understanding and ask her to forgive you. When she seems emotionally distant, consider responding with, "Honey, I'm wondering if I have done something to hurt you. I sense that something is bothering you, and if I'm the problem, I certainly want to deal with it. I love you."
Owning our mistakes is the road to marital intimacy.Dr. Gary Chapman is a pastor, speaker and best-selling author of The Five Love Languages.