My guest writer this week is Jay Payleitner of St. Charles, Ill. Jay is a radio producer, best-selling author of a dozen books and speaker for the National Center for Fathering. This article is adapted from his book "52 Things Wives Need from Their Husbands."
For more information, visit jaypayleitner.com. You might also want to watch for next week's column, where Jay will share thoughts from his companion book "52 Things Husbands Need from Their Wives." He will also be my guest on TWOgether as ONE for the next two Monday broadcasts. I hope you can be available to tune in to KLJH 107.1FM at 6 p.m.
By Jay Payleitner
Most husbands think apologizing is a sign of weakness. Some guys only say they are sorry if their wives apologize first. Quite a few men think that an apology is an acknowledgement that we have done something terribly wrong and are filled with deep remorse.
Gentlemen, it's time to recognize the full power of the apology. It's a gift that allows us to defuse almost any regretful situation, argument or misunderstanding. It's easy to use. And it puts us back in control. There are three reasons why men should actually expect to do most of the apologizing in a marriage. First, we mess up more. We're risk takers. You have to admit that guys may not always consider every possible pitfall when they begin a journey or a conversation. It's our conquering spirit.
Secondly, we're guys. We are willing to take one for the team. When there is some undetermined factor bringing disharmony to a relationship, we rise above it. Even when it couldn't possibly be a failure on our part, a man's chivalrous and heroic spirit prompts him to take the blame. This is the same instinct that leads a soldier in a foxhole to fall on a grenade. Even if we are not guilty, we take the punch and roll with it. In short, even if it's 80 percent her fault, we are willing to shoulder the blame. We know that someone has to apologize and, rather than pussyfoot around, we take charge of the situation. We're men. We're noble creatures. We man up.
The third reason husbands tend to apologize more often reveals one of our few weaknesses. It just might be that we can't hold out as long as our wives. Let's say the two of you are in a little marital spat. The reason doesn't matter. Toilet seat up. Overdrawn bank account. Underwear on the floor. TV show didn't get recorded. Someone forgot to use a coaster. Someone forgot an anniversary. Someone said something unpleasant about his mother-in-law. Whatever. There's a little tension in the air. Unpleasant words are exchanged. For a few days, no words are exchanged. Kisses and other benefits of marriage are definitely out of the question.
As the pages in the calendar turn, it becomes quite obvious that your wife is in no hurry to put this spat in the past. A couple more days and you realize that the term weaker sex has nothing to do with perseverance. You are the one feeling weak. You desperately want things to go back to normal, and she seems to have created an entire new standard for normal. And it's not pleasant.
At this point, you have little choice but to apologize. You may not even remember exactly what you did wrong. Like a prisoner waiting for trial, you may have already paid for your misdeeds with time served in the doghouse. Even if you are totally innocent, your wife holds the key to the prison door. And she'll dangle that key for as long as it takes. That's your cue to apologize.
Those are three reasons why most acts of repentance are initiated by guys. You're guilty. You're taking one for the team, or you've reached your limit.
It's worth noting that after your apology, she will often respond with her own apology. But it's not nearly as sincere or doesn't have quite the impact. To be sure, we guys are experts at initiating closure. And that's exactly what our wives need us to do. Which means we are the ones ultimately in control. Hooray for us!
So, the real question is not why guys apologize, but why we sometimes wait so long to do it? The answer might be that we take our time because we know the making up part is well worth the wait.
I'm back and I must say I am in full agreement with Jay's comments. I also believe manhood has been under severe attack in our nation for the past few decades and most men do not live up to their responsibilities of leadership in the home. Please save the hate mail for I certainly realize that women have vital roles to play as well. Spousal roles are equal in my estimation, but different. I think I'm delving into territory more suited for the op-ed section of the paper so I'll bring this to an abrupt close. Suffice to say, I appreciate folks like Jay Payleitner, who have such valuable information to help us all fare better in our roles as husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. I look forward to bringing you more of these helpful resources in the coming weeks and months.