How do you make amends after knowing that you’ve hurt someone you love?
The other night, the hubby was taking time to show me the goals that he’s set for himself, in relation to the family’s finances.
He had made an entire powerpoint presentation just for this. (Well, it was also part of his work.)
About halfway through, I was wondering when he would finish. The night’s to-do list had started to scroll through my mind.
Then JJ started wailing. He had roused from sleep and was expressing his displeasure at being awake. I went into his room and tried to pacify him. That took about 10 minutes. I came back out with an impatient and generally nasty attitude.
I probably said something that I shouldn’t have. Or maybe it was the way it came out. The hubby promptly stopped talking and I was left by myself facing the screen. The night went quiet. Suddenly, I could do what I had planned to do, but I didn’t feel like doing these anymore.
When you know you’ve hurt someone you love, something in you twists and turns and you can’t sit still or concentrate. I tried, for about eight minutes.
Then I tip-toed into the room and found him tucked under the blanket with the iPad. I went up to him, apologised and asked the obvious, Are you angry? To which he nodded his head, barely glancing at me.
I know this scene pretty well. We’ve had episodes like this in the early days, and we’ve worked out various ways of coping with each other’s emotions. It’s more of a struggle for me, because I tend to need to confront the issue and work through it (asap) while he needs his own space to think and process. So I know that I can’t force him to talk.
So I went out again. I took about five minutes. Tidied some toys. Shifted books around. Then I poured myself a cup of OJ, which I brought into the room and offered to him. He shook his head, but I persisted.
Finally, he accepted the OJ, taking a sip before handing it back to me. I said sorry once more and I noticed that his facial expression had softened. He forgave. We made up.
Thinking back, I realised how insensitive I had been; he had put in so much effort and thought into this presentation, but I had treated it (and him) with a careless attitude. I was even trying to justify my bad behaviour by telling myself that he also had a part to play for being long-winded!
But as I gradually saw the need to make amends for the hurt I’ve caused, I realised that it was no longer important who was more right or more wrong. We don’t really need to find excuses for bad behaviour. We do need, however, to resolve the hurt and the tension caused to the relationship.
Thank God we didn’t have to wait till the next day to sort things through.
Thank God we had some cooling-off time, which helped to clear our heads.
Thank God for the OJ.
What I learnt: Love can be messy and unpredictable. But conflict is an inevitable part of love, and it often helps us grow in our understanding of each other.
How do you work to resolve conflict in your relationships? Do you find that you need time or fresh air to clear the air too?