A bit of a disclosure before I start my next story. Before my meeting my husband, I dated like a dude. And not the dude you’d take home to mom. The dude you wouldn’t think to tell your mother you even knew. I would like someone, flirt, go on a date or two, get tired of the guy or see some inane reason it wouldn’t work out, and then just disappear. (It wasn’t quite what you’re thinking though.) My longest ‘relationship’ was probably two weeks. But hey, I was cool with it. It worked for me, most of the time. And then, I was 25, and met Caleb, my now husband. And I fell. Hard. He was the first man I’d ever called boyfriend, and certainly the first one to call me his girlfriend. Obviously, you can see how that worked out.
But man, it took me a while to get used to relationship dating, not random dating – because those are two totally different things. I was HORRIBLE at it at first. We were long distance for a while, so that added even more awkwardness. I remember being out with a girlfriend, Mia, for dinner, and Caleb called. He knew I was going to be out, and I knew he was also out, so I figured something was up and answered, somewhat concerned. He just wanted to let me know his plans had changed and instead of going to whatever restaurant, he and his friends were now going to Hooters. …whatever, dude, have fun! I have food to eat! I got off the phone and Mia looked at me funny. She then had to spend a good twenty minutes explaining how it was a really good sign that he called to let me know, because she could tell I did not realize that.
It took a few tries (and by a few tries I mean I’m still working on it) before I got the hang of not just blocking him out when I was upset, but actually talking to him and trying to fix the problem. I can not even begin to explain how much I started to loathe the statement, ‘Let’s talk about it.’
Anyway, I eventually got much better at being a girlfriend, and was indeed promoted to wife. Five years of being with Caleb though, and I still find myself surprised by how little I know about being in a relationship. Which is what leads to my story.
The other day, Caleb and I got in a little fight. I don’t even remember what it was about, only that I was mad, and that his response made me even madder. What was his response you might ask? He would NOT apologize! Even after we resolved whatever issue it was, and moved on, that stupid little voice kept going, “but Sam…he never said he was sorry”. So, me being me, I waited until a good time a few days later to calmly bring it up (aka 11 pm on a Sunday when he had PT at 5 am the following day and I may or may not have ambushed him with angry Sam as he came out of the bathroom) and gently mentioned (angrily accused?) that he hadn’t said he was sorry!
He calmly (for real calmly, not Sam calm) explained that he had thought about what I said, figured out how to fix it, and taken the steps to do just that. And then looked at me, expectantly. Right…but you NEVER SAID SORRY. He looked at me like I was nuts. Why, he asked, did I need him to say sorry when he had done all these other things to make amends? I petulantly argued back, but about two minutes in realized I had no argument. More than that, he was totally right. (Which, I should mention, I never said to him – so he’s going to be quite excited when he reads this.)
But there it is, in black and white. Here it is again, just in case he missed it:
He was right.
Why did I need him to say he was sorry when he had, in fact, done better than just saying sorry? He had genuinely thought about what I had said, had taken visible steps to correct the action, and had told me how much he had taken what I said to heart. So…why? Why did I need him to say it? Obviously he was sorry, or he wouldn’t have done all that. I was half listening to him explain how silly I was being when I heard him say that he had fixed the problem, why did I need more?
Ding, ding, ding! I zoomed in on that one word – FIXED – and had my a-ha! moment.
He’s a man. A man in the Marine Corps. Words are pointless to him, it’s actions that matter. He took the information I presented him with, took steps to solve the issue, and informed me of his actions. Problem fixed.
But me? I am certainly not a Marine. I am definitely not a man. I am a woman, and more than that, I am a writer. Words are, you might have noticed, my bread and butter. I needed to hear him say he was sorry, not just tell me how he fixed it. I needed him to tell me because, in my flowy, frantic, emotional brain, he wasn’t really sorry until he said so – which obviously isn’t true. It turns out that old saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ was right on. Apparently, this is something I am going to need to keep in mind when Caleb and I have arguments. It’s going to be hard. I like words. But if he fixes the problem, I don’t really have grounds to keep arguing.