Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tip #22: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

The other day I was watching the movie Love Story for the second time (I think I've read the book more than once, too).

There's a scene where the husband loses his temper toward the wife, and she storms out of the house in protest. He immediately regrets what he's done and heads out to look for her. He spends the entire day scouring local coffee shops, the library, etc. At the end of the day, he heads home and finds his wife shivering on the doorstep. She says that she forgot her key.

The husband immediately starts to gush an apology and the wife says something like, "Stop. Love means never having to say you're sorry."

That line makes me very, very irritated. I am of the school of thought that love means having to say you're sorry a lot. In fact, being an honorable and courageous person means saying you're sorry--a lot!

It is inevitable that we make mistakes in our partnerships and in our relationships with others. If we're tired or stressed or hurried, it can be easy to say something or treat someone in a way that we regret (lord knows this happens to me all the time!). Although we can work hard to proactively prevent those mistakes by being more aware of them, we also have to be diligent about fixing those mistakes once we've made them. Not only do we need to say we're sorry, but we also need to fully explain what we're sorry about and why we regret it. We have to be sincere and heartfelt.

In fact, accepting responsibility for our mistakes is such an integral part of my relationship with Matt (we make a lot of mistakes!) that we actually wrote it into our vows. At the end, we said, "And if I stumble and fail to live up to my promises, I will look you in the eyes, hold your hands, and apologize with sincerity. I will be my best for you."

It definitely comes in handy!

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hizzle said...

i love that movie- even if I do bawl my eyes out.
I agree though. I get the premise of not having to say your sorry, but I believe apologizing is so important.

Pip said...

I think that in addition to "I'm sorry" that "I was wrong" goes a long way towards building a strong relationship.

Carmen Wren said...

Here here, I could not agree more. Throughout my relationship with my fiance we have both done/said things we regretted and honestly the most comforting part is both in hearing a sincere apology and the knowledge that in giving one it will be accepted.

I know that no matter what mistake I have made I am able to apologize and explain myself and even cry and I will still be loved.

That's what being in love means.

Chris Wolfgang said...

I 100% agree with you. That line has always driven me bats. What an assumption!

Anonymous said...

I agree that line is ridiculous! Sincere apologies are like Vitamin D to relationships- without it you get relationship rickets. (?)

Meghan McNally said...

I couldn't agree more. That always annoyed me about Love Story as well. It just does not hold together in a real flesh and blood relationship. Saying sorry is necessary for the one offended AND the offender!

Randa said...

I'm half-and-half. While I do feel like saying your sorry is important, I think knowing why you're sorry is more important. To me, some people use sorry as a way to get out of a bad situation - they haven't really learned anything or they have no desire to be proactive against fixing the situation that they're sorry about. They say sorry because they know it's the thing to say.

I don't know if that really makes sense but my biggest pet peeve is when people say sorry just to say it - there's no real thought or feeling behind the word. They could be saying "bologna" for all that word can sometimes be.

But I do agree - each partner should be willing to take responsibility for their mistakes. I just wish that some people wouldn't use sorry as the catch-all for every problem.

Alycia said...

I think we read into this line too much. Jenny is saying that she knows Ollie is sorry, based on his actions, now and all the time. That is so much more important than him just throwing the words "I'm sorry" at her, which a lot of people think is the only way to end an argument.

Bumberchute said...

You should watch the movie "What's up, Doc" it has the same actor (Ryan O'Neal) and they reference that line in the end of the movie :) his character says "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard." :)

Anonymous said...

That must be where my mom got it! She used to use that line on my dad when he was hurt because she wouldn't ever apologize or admit wrongdoing. It always struck me as completely bogus and mean. She wouldn't apologize to me or my brother for things, either; instead she would rub salt in the wounds by telling us we were being oversensitive. Very hurtful! But it sounds like it was different in the movie because one character was telling the other that no apology was necessary, rather than as a way of refusing to apologize to someone else.

avila said...

I can see Randa's point - it's important to know why you're sorry too. Along these lines some of the good advice we were given is to have a "reconciliation ritual". When one or both of us is hurt we set aside time to talk about it. Each of us gets to share how we have been feeling in turn, followed by the other feeding back what they've heard. Then we don't just say "I'm sorry", we ask for forgiveness for something specific. Asking for forgiveness is in my experience harder than saying I'm sorry; it's humbling and makes you pretty vulnerable. The other person then makes a conscious commitment to forgive - which is an essential part of our marriage commitment in the first place.

I'm finding this is a really healing way to work so far.

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