About two weeks ago, I did something incredibly stupid. Without even really thinking about it, I let my wife down. I made one of those careless, thoughtless little mistakes that when you realize what you’ve done, you might want to slap yourself in the head about it, but a mistake can’t be undone.
My first temptation was to buy her some sort of gift to “make up” for my mistake. I know what sorts of things she likes, so I browsed through some sites and found a couple of great items that I could give her that would patch things over.
But then I came to my senses.
Buying my wife something won’t make up for a mistake I made. In fact, buying her something right now would just send a message to her that I view her love and respect as something that can be bought.
The only way to deal with a poor decision or with a marital rough patch is through communication. If your partner is upset with you, especially if you really can’t understand why, don’t get mad. Listen. Talk through the problem. Ask questions. Figure out what you can do so that the mistake doesn’t happen again. Let your partner know that you truly do love him or her, and that you aren’t a perfect person, and that you made a mistake. Then, try to take all of that into your own heart and make improvements within yourself.
Buying a gift and not talking about the problem? That just paints the wrong kind of picture. It merely shows that you view your issues as something that can be wiped away with money. And they can’t.
Fortunately, I’m a lucky enough man to have a wife who is very forgiving of my inequities. In fact, if she’s reading this right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if she were scratching her head, trying to remember what exactly I’m talking about. At least, I sincerely hope that’s the case.
Marriage isn’t easy. No relationship is truly easy. There are always going to be times when you do something stupid and rash and make someone else upset by your poorly-considered actions. What makes a relationship work isn’t how you avoid such mistakes, it’s how you handle them.
Whenever you’re in a situation where you’ve made a mistake and you’re trying to patch things up, don’t spend your time buying flowers or making grandiose promises about great things to come. Instead, remember just four words:
You can’t buy love.
Then head home, sit down, and have a real conversation. Instead of trying to buy away the problem, try to solve it with real understanding, love, and compassion instead.