Monday, September 08, 2008

"I'm Sorry"

When I visited my friend one day, she kept going on and on about her husband's recent overseas trip. He was presenting a paper in a city which she considered to be very romantic and his co-presenter, a lady, went together with him. She couldn't go because she was working. She said she wasn't worried about his fidelity because the lady is married, and my friend knows the lady quite well. She said she wasn't jealous of the lady spending time with her husband, but she kept saying that she imagined him taking pictures of her and her of him, at places where she wished she could visit herself. And she kept asking me "If you were in my shoes, how would you feel?"
Her husband, who is by nature a man of very little words, just kept a straight face throughout the conversation, only letting out a little smile once in a while when Taufik or I would jokingly tease my friend about her 'jealousy'.
She incessantly brought the subject up, as if unsatisfied and searching for something, a right response perhaps.
If her husband had asked me what a right response would have been, I would have told him to say "I'm Sorry".

I know many men would be shaking their heads right about now.
When I was invited to talk about John Grey's "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" on the now defunct morning show when the book celebrated its 10th anniversary, I had told the hosts (mokciknab, Che' Mi and Che' Kem), that the best thing that a man can say to his female partner to foster good relationship is "I'm Sorry". Che' Kem and Che' Mi almost jumped out of their seats and vehemently dissagreed. "But what if you didn't do anything wrong?" Che' Kem argued.

See. There in lies the difference between men and women.

Men sees "I'm Sorry" as apologizing and admitting fault.
Women, on the other hand, sees "I'm Sorry" as apologizing and assuring feelings.

It doesn't really matter who is at fault, when a woman feels hurt, they need someone to validate that feelings, so that they themselves feel validated. They want to hear "Yes, you have the right to feel that way, and I care for you enough to make you feel better". An "I'm Sorry" (especially if it's from the man that made her feel bad in the first place), does exactly that. (It's either that, or an "I know exactly how you feel!!" from another woman, but wouldn't it be better if it came from the man in question?)

Now, if you have a husband that has not read the book (or this post)(or is just plain blurr), how in the world do you get him to say "I'm Sorry"?
It took me quite a few years to learn to do this : Just ask for it.
Before I learned how to ask, all I did was seethe and pout and feel miserable. Then I picked up the courage to just say, "look, all I wanted to say is my feelings are hurt (or I dont feel loved) by (whatever), and what would make me feel loved now is an I'm Sorry from you".
You'd be suprised as to how quick you'd get that "I'm Sorry".

Try it, and tell me if your relationship doesn't get better :)


  1. I never thought of it like that (cocooned as I am in my fiery martian abode) but it really makes sense, and the more that men can strive for empathy with their female partners and friends, familt too, the better

  2. yay!! a convert!!


  3. Bravo Elisa! Rightly said. Men sometimes just don't realise that those 2 simple words boleh in a split second sejukkan hati seorang isteri.

  4. couldn't agree more with you!!!

    just like you, I pout, seethe and end up being more miserable than ever!!! then I asked for those words, telling him exactly how I felt - Thank God now he is a much better person though errr..there are times when he just a plain blur (especially when he's busy with work!). I think at that time, it's our turn to understand him.

  5. You are about to start a chain of agreement...

    Same problem, though I seethe more in silence and much much later when sometimes it no longer matters, I ask for the Sorry. Now..I will use your suggestion though.

  6. Hail O' Kak Lisa.
    Hail O' Kak Lisa.

    I'm so gonna frame this post in the room.

    Should have a line of merchandise for this. I suggest the 'message on pillow' to be offered under this post.

  7. i also like to add that I sometime do not need a solution to my problem. because you see, i just want him to listen, not solve.

    because men seem to like to solve problem so much, elisa has just recommend an easy solution.

    eh but sometimes i pun kena say i am sorry gk. not because he needs assurance ke apa. sebab i mmg ada buat salah. sesekalilah that is.

  8. diah setuju sama elisa n' lollies... hihihi.. paham2 je laaaah... kata2 "ya maap" itu melegakan hatiii.. :D

  9. TulisJe11:53 PM

    Off topic: Where did you get the updated links kat tepi tu? The one that tells you the title of the updated blog and how long ago it was updated? I want also lah.

  10. a malaysian in riyadh4:52 AM

    Hmm, never thought of that. I'm listless in my office right now. I think Arman has just finished his BM Pemahaman UPSR Paper, er, his Achilles' heel. But we are secure in the knowledge that he has given his utmost in terms of preparation and committment. Just hope for the best.

  11. Anonymous6:22 AM


    i'm sorry...

    HAPPY BELATED 37th BIRTHDAY!!!! " megge mu sukehati sokmo.. mu tok laki mu dang anok anok skali... slamat berpuase dang slamat hari raye"

  12. Tapi kalau maaf tu sentiasa dan berulang semula..

    jadinya Tiada Maaf Bagimu!

  13. Anonymous9:28 AM

    good points, you could even compile writings on relationships and publish it kan????


  14. Han,
    kan kan kan?? And when they say "I'm Sorry", what is the first thing we should say? "Thankyou". :)

    even though I read that book almost 10 years ago, it took me almost 10 years to figure it out and pluck up the courage to ask for what I want. So can you imagine all those years of feeling unsatisfied, unloved, resentful... alhamdulliah when it comes to this bit, we communicate better now :)

    and by that time , dia pun dah lupa kena dia kena cakap sorry, and would prolly be a bit reluctant, kan kan? SOmetimes I terlupa terus and the next time I'm pissed, mulalah nak mengungkit.. really bad habit.
    heh heh
    Never too late to change for the better :)

    Firhad pun blurr blurr ke?
    yeah yeah, the "I'm Sorry - Thankyou/It's OK" pillow set.
    Cepatlah buat.

  15. lolls,
    The book ada mention that jugak. How men tend to offer solutions when sometimes women just want to be heard. Thankyou for pointing them out.
    And yes, women shouldnt be too proud to say Sorry too :)

    kan gitu?

    It's a blogger widget lah. Blogroll or something. Just go to your dashboard.

    Oh I forgot Arman has exams this week!! Please do wish him good luck from all of us. Patutlah lama tak nampak dia online. By the way, I lost Zura's number when my phone got stolen. Please have her email me her number. Thankyou :)

  16. anon,
    terimakasih bbanynyok lah...
    er.. doh saper dier nih pong dok tahu. dekpong gak takdok saing namer gesatu habok pong.

    Amboihhh itu dah tahap drama minggu ini tu..

    Banyak tulis mengarut aje dari beri nasihat.. ahahahah
    Kalau something like "For my daughter - a collection of advice and recipes" boleh lah tebal sikit kot ;)

  17. :-) love this entry!! a man who is able to say i am sorry when asked - is a man indeed!

    a man who voluntarily says 'I m sorry' - is a man and a friend for life!

  18. but isn't it evil to be saying about things that you don't know about or even saying sorry even if you're not? i would always ask what is the other person sorry for, and if i were generously saying i'm sorry without thinking, that wouldn't be a good question to be facing ehehe.

  19. PakPayne,
    and a man who voluntarily says "I'm Sorry" and knows exactly what he's sorry for - is husband material :)

    I'm not saying just say sorry without thinking. You should say sorry that her feelings are hurt, just to show that you care about her. I'm sure that would at least be half true, no?
    *waits to see what TheOtherAJ would say*

  20. well, most of the time, she would be hurt because of me la kan. so, if i were to say sorry because she was hurt and not because i regretted doing whatever thingy that i had done to hurt her in the first place because i didn't think it was wrong for me to do it, how la? am i making sense here?

  21. took up that book (and another one... Mars and Venus on a break-up or smthn) after a horrible, horrible break-up back in 2000. kalau John Grey tu ada kat M'sia, pastinya dia HARUS dapat Tan Sri-ship or smthng coz the books are DAMN good.

    malangnya, sang suami tak baca buku-buku macam ni. but your entry would be such a great tell to him that hey, apparently, i am not abnormal, lah.

    i hope he'll read this entry termasuk komen-komen sekali... termasuk lah aku punya komen, hahahaha *waves at abang*

    hopefully men would understand that saying sorry does not mean putting down the ego... or, why say sorry when you've not done wrong? but when a man says "i'm sorry" to a wife, even if he thinks he's not done any wrong, is a mere validation to the wife's feelings. and it can surely help heal a hell lot of things in more ways than one can imagine.

    betul tak Puan Elisa????

  22. You, my dear, are so wise.

    It's not about an admission of guilt, it's just about affirmation of feelings.
    I had to teach my husband long ago that sometimes I just needed him to understand even if I was being irrational. He gets it and he says sorry a lot...but so do I. I think it's a big reason why we've been married twenty years and it's all still great.

  23. yeah.. "i'm sorry" is good. but only if it comes from the bottom of their hearts. sometimes men take women for granted because they know they can always say sorry and almost instantly forgiven (most of the time). That's not quite right.

  24. Alhamdulillah Arman got the results he's hoping for in the UPSR. We are so chuffed, and bersyukur.