Advice for Married Couples: Learn to Apologize

This article, entitled Advice for Married Couples: Learn to Apologize comes from Nicole Knepper, writer of Moms Who Drink and Swear on

I am a gifted apologizer. My 'sorry bout that' skills are refined and I’m quick to forgive others as well. Why? Well, because I have mad mistake-making skills and I live with people who are equally imperfect - my husband in particular. And that’s why knowing how to suck it up when I’m wrong and something I’m finally learning to do no matter if he is just as wrong as I am. And he is. Wrong, that is. A lot. And so am I. But I digress.

For example, my husband never puts the cap back on the toothpaste. He always leaves it off. Always!

That’s not wrong, is it? To love someone but still feel stabby-like when they leave the cap off the toothpaste (or not closing the microwave after cooking something that probably splattered all over the inside or leaving a trail of clothes from the bedroom to the bathroom)? Because I’m telling you right now, if feeling this way is wrong, I will never be right. This is just who I am! This is how I feel!

I know exactly who I married when I said, “I do.” I knew his faults. He knew mine too. Of course I had none at all. Kidding. Sort of. Anyway, I also knew he had (and still has) a beautiful and kind heart and I was in love with him, so I didn’t feel the need to make a list or pros and cons. Not only did I not overthink my decision to seal the deal legally – to make a lifetime commitment – I didn’t think much about the seriousness of it at all. I know this sounds insane. I was, however, worried about something - one itty bitty thing.

That something was, and is still so ridiculous, it embarrasses me to admit it, I was right to worry. My biggest worry about married life was that my husband to be was, and still is, a slob. Could I live with a guy who didn’t put the cap back on the toothpaste? Because Nikki likes things neat and tidy. That cap could be the death of us.

Yeah, I was worried about the toothpaste cap. It stressed me OUT!

Ah, but I am me and he is he and we are we, and after all these years, he still leaves the cap off, and I still complain about it. Are we insane? Maybe. Probably. But really, how hard is it to put the cap on the toothpaste? AND also, how hard is it to accept that someone just doesn’t, and isn’t ever going to put the cap back on the toothpaste, and it’s nothing personal (that was a rhetorical question by the way)?

I believe both are quite challenging. We are who we are. I wonder if other people are this ridiculous? God I hope so.

When my husband acts surprised to see me stomping around, harrumphing and flinging the toothpaste cap in his general direction, I wonder why he doesn’t just throw me a bone and put the cap back on!? Why oh why can’t he understand and accept that part of me that needs this and just dooooooowit?

But then I think that I’m being too hard on the poor fella, and I quickly realize that my fit over not having the toothpaste neatly capped is a bit of a mess on it's own. It’s not his fault that after almost 20 years of living together, I still lose my marbles about the flipping toothpaste cap and other random slobbery that isn’t really a big deal at all. Well, it is and it isn't. It's complicated this marriage thing, huh?

I mean, things could be so much worse, right? Right! They really could, and they actually have been much worse for us. Man, we have been through a lot and somehow managed to stay together, so what makes it so hard for both of us to tend to the little, easy things? Why is it so hard to change up a little and make a greater effort to smooth out some of the rough, irritating edges caused by the years of wear and tear caused by such trivial stuff?

Well, it just is. Hard that is. It is hard to change and that's not because we are being jerks on purpose. We are who we are and sometimes we are both okay with that. Sometimes we are not. Not at all.

But even if it is hard to change, the difficulty shouldn't prevent either of us from trying to respect each other’s right to be who we are, do what comes naturally and feel however we feel about whatever it is causing strife between us and try to throw each other a bone. Sometimes we are jerks on purpose, because after all these years, how can we not be? Honestly though, most of the time, the mistakes that are made are just that – honest mistakes. But sometimes it’s hard to know the difference, you know, since we do so love to push each other’s buttons.

So now you know why I’m working my fanny off to become an even better apologizer than I am now. I get “it.” Two wrongs sometimes do make a right. Well, maybe not a right, but we are going in the right direction. We are trying to stay together! I like and love my husband. I want to stay married. We are getting better at this. But for God's sake, if we are going to make it another 19 years, we can never, ever, EVER share a bathroom sink.

About the Author...
Nicole Knepper
Nicole Knepper is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with two advanced degrees (psychology and gerontology) whose blog, "Moms who Drink and Swear," became the basis for her first book.

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