I ran across an idea a few weeks ago that had to do with using the words “I’m sorry.” I’ve been doing so much reading lately, that I’m not sure where I saw this. It might have been in Athol’s book, or it might have been one of the manosphere blogs, but I’m not sure.
I do know that since reading it, I’ve become acutely aware of how often I say the words “I’m sorry.” And most of the time, I haven’t done anything wrong. My wife is going through a long and painful recovery from surgery, so I have a lot of occasions to express sympathy and concern.
But there’s the rub. English being a compact language, most words have multiple meanings. Sure, one of the meanings of ‘sorry’ is “sympathetic,” or “compassionate.” But take a look at some of the other synonyms for sorry:
If you keep telling your wife that you are pathetic and contemptible, how long do you think it will be before she starts to believe you?
Of course, there are times when no other term will do. When you screw up, admit it. Take the blame, apologize, do what you can to set things right, and move on. Sometimes, you do have to say you’re sorry, because life isn’t a 70’s novel.
But apart from actual apologies, resolve now to banish the phrase “I’m sorry” from your vocabulary. Here are some other ways to express sympathy and compassion without claiming to be vile or disgraceful:
“I know this is very difficult for you.”
“We’re in this together. You are not alone.”
“This must be so painful for you.”
“How can I help?”
“I don’t know what to say, but I care.”
“That must be terrible.”
“I can’t imagine that kind of pain.”
Also remember this: As a man, confronted with a problem, your instinct is to search for solutions. But most of the time, when your woman has a problem, she doesn’t want you to solve it. She just wants to know that you understand her, and that you care. If you immediately jump to offering solutions, she will likely interpret that as a lack of caring. Give her your emotional support first and foremost.