The article dovetails somewhat with the two-parter at Pyro that I started yesterday and plan to conclude tomorrow, but it is different. Genuine apologies are virtually always part of genuine repentance, but my focus over-thereward is different. Repentance may include that, but it is seldom limited to that. So we get to discuss the article here.
Okay, I'm not really sorry, but that's the sort of thing a man might say to keep the peace, Ms. Bernstein wisely observes. The article is a pleasant read, written with humor and experience, including findings from the research as well as anecdotal observations and interviews.
Bernstein observes that men and women often want and mean different things by apologies. To a man, an apology is likelier to mean something along the lines of "What I did was wrong; I should never have done it, should never do it again, and ask you to forgive me for it."
To a woman — while certainly often including exactly that meaning — an apology may have tones along the lines of "What I did upset you, I care about you and our relationship, and I'm sorry you're upset." So when a woman sees a man refuse to apologize...
- To him, it may simply be because he can't imagine how what he did was immoral or irrational
- To her, the refusal means he does not care about her, her feelings, or the relationship.
Bernstein quotes from a man who's been married 36 years. He figures that, in that time,
he has sincerely apologized [see my "man" definition above, I think, for his meaning] to his wife, Carol, just five times—but has said he's sorry an additional 3,500 times. He calls these mea culpas "fraudulent apologies." They go something like this: "I don't know why you're unhappy, but I'm sorry."
"Ninety percent of apologies are to keep the peace," he adds. "How can you have a sincere apology if you don't know what you've done?"I have learned over the years that male/female communication is a tricky thing, both an art and a science, and fraught with danger. The most maddening aspect of it is the fact that we may use the exact same language, and yet mean such different things. So doing it well (I speak as a theoretician) is like speaking a foreign language that uses all the same words as the mother-language — yet with wildly different meanings.
It is like ordering a hamburger in a restaurant where the language is English, but the term for "hamburger" is "summer squash." Even though a man knows that, if he wants hamburger he must say summer squash, he shrinks from doing so, for fear that he might get the latter rather than the former.
If a man offers such an apology, then, is he lying? Is he harming his conscience, or insulting his wife?
In no way... any more than I am when I say embarasada in Spanish and mean "pregnant," though the word sounds like "embarrassed" in English. When he offers such an apology, he's communicating exactly what his wife hopes to hear, but in her language.
Where's wisdom, then? This is what Ms. Bernstein neglects to say, if she knows it.
The wise couple will fear God, and embrace His order for the home, with the husband leading and the wife respectfully following his lead.
The wise/godly wife will thank God her husband is a man, respect him for the man he is, and mortify (put to death — Romans 13:14) any internal drive to try to feminize her husband or bludgeon him into compliance. She will learn to hear his language and accept it for what it is. That is putting 1 Peter 3:1-6 into practical application.
The wise/godly husband will thank God his wife is a woman, love her for what she is, cherish and care for her as Christ cares for the church, and — while not leaving his fundamental mooring as a godly man — learn to speak her language. That is putting 1 Peter 3:7, as well as Ephesians 5:25-28, into practical application.
NOTE that each of those is what the godly husband/wife should do — not what either should demand that the other do.
You see, the Cross has something to say to us both, even in this area.