“Sorry” Won’t Suffice
When someone tells you, “I’m sorry,” they don’t often mean it. After it becomes a pattern in your primary relationship, you might start altering your plans or making radical changes to your path.
After a while, in my marriage, “sorry” became an excuse. The disappointments I seemed to be causing my wife were palpable. I was, in fact, trying. I was apparently not making changes quickly enough. “Sorry.”
I began to get into a habit. She would complain about something, I’d say, “I’m sorry.” But, listen, I was part of the problem. And not because I was disappointing her. I had allowed my heart to be flattened, my spirit to be muted, my joy to be quieted to keep the peace. So I apologized all the time.
I couldn’t make her happy. I couldn’t make her want to stay once she explored the “divorce brochure.” At that point, her primary response was “fuck you.” It came out like a sneeze as if she couldn’t control her raging impulse to blame me for her unhappiness. “I’m sorry.”
It was not my actions that were making her unhappy. I tried. I mean, I did everything I could think of. I asked my therapist, I asked our couples therapist, I asked her therapist. That was the worst. Her therapist got me to repeat a mantra, “I am enough.” Both of them seem satisfied that this is what I needed. Positive reinforcement. “I’m sorry.”
I quit saying it, eventually, when I started coming out of shock about my relationship. It was not failing, it was over. It didn’t take a therapist to tell me that. No, she said it in our second to last couples session.
“I was just exploring my options,” she said. She had failed to mention she’d been to see a divorce attorney when it slipped out.
“We’re fucked,” I said.
I was the one who was fucked. She got exactly what she wanted, every other weekend off and me out of the house.
Read more Short-Short Stories from John.