Q. I’m told that I say “I’m sorry” far too often for the smallest of things even when I’m not at fault. How do I alter this habit? — Frequent Apologizer
A. Dear Frequent Apologizer,
Have you ever had someone bump into you, yet you’re the one who turns around and says “I’m sorry?” I know I have. This tendency often goes unrealized until someone points it out.
A while back, I came upon the suggestion of replacing the unconscious “I’m sorry’s” with “Thank you’s.” The recommendation was replacing the words “I’m sorry I’m late” with “Thanks for waiting for me.” Or, instead of apologizing for taking up a friend’s time to cry on their shoulder, say “Thank you for caring about me and taking the time to listen when I need to sort myself out.”
Overusing the phrase “I’m sorry” undermines our personal authority with others, especially in business settings. It can needlessly make us seem weak and mousy. Switching it up with the more positive “Thank you for…” can reverse a negative into a positive which empowers everyone. At the same time, it seeds the exchange with sentiments that are more authentic than the automatic unconscious apology.
Q. I’ve been married for eight years, have a four-year-old, and feel like a completely different woman than who I was before I got married. I’m fairly content, yet some things in my life with my husband don’t seem to work anymore. I’m not sure what to do. — Mother-in-Flux
A. Dear Mother-in-Flux,
I’d be surprised if you didn’t feel like a different person since you got married and had a child. Most people do, especially women. One thing we can count on is that life will bring change in a myriad of ways, especially when raising children. Marriage, pregnancy and having a child can usher in huge transformations to the structure and pacing of our lives in ways that we often can’t fully anticipate. Simple activities, friendships and hobbies may now become more difficult to participate in due to shifts in spousal, parental, familial, or work obligations and expectations.
So, how do we respond to these changes in relationship to create balance?
I recommend that couples, married or otherwise, sit down with their partners occasionally to renegotiate the terms of relationship in response to shifting needs and desires. The concept of relationship renegotiation encourages both partners to do a bit of self-excavation ahead of time to check in with how personal needs and perspectives have evolved while also mining for building resentments and expectations.
After self-contemplation, the partners come together to engage in honest conversation about what’s required to feel balanced, respected and content in the midst of fluctuating feelings and personal wants. They then share how they’d like to make course corrections for more cohesive alignment in the future. When they open up the space for renegotiation, they share what they know is no longer working for them while bringing the new needs, desires, and dreams they have to the table for consideration.
What and how do we renegotiate?
First, this is not meant as an opportunity to dump on our mates. While we’re certainly looking for relational aspects we’d like to see shift into something that feels better, we’re also grounding and affirming what’s right and good about our partnerships.
Start by sharing appreciations for the other. Take this important time to highlight all the positive things that make life special with them. Remember that while the big things are important, sometimes it’s the smallest of things that we never take the time to say that create the largest currency deposit in the emotional bank accounts of others.
Once those details have been shared, realize that virtually anything can be renegotiated – sex, intimacy, finances, time, chores, family and work obligations, vacation, nutrition, social obligations, engagement with in-laws, modes of communication, and responsibilities for children or aging parents. The issues are virtually endless
Ultimately, most anything can be discussed for renegotiation and reconsideration, both big and small, to meet the demands of changing lifestyles and growing families. We are limited only by our lack of flexibility and imagination as couples to improve our lives together. Above all, it takes self-awareness and the willingness of both partners to create space for open conversation to see where they can get their own needs met, as well as be supportive in meeting the needs of the other. This exemplifies the give and take in relationships, along with the acknowledgment that people grow and life evolves.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective, and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on personal issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at Ask Alecia on Facebook.