The art of the apology
I've been married nearly three years now. I love my wife and can't picture myself with anyone else. There's a problem, though. I've made huge concessions for our marriage. I've given up my dog due to her allergies. I've severed my relationship with one of my best friends from law school because she felt wronged by her. Most recently, I promised a friend, with her permission, that he could stay with us for two months while he was securing housing because he was just offered a job in this area and had to move his family here. Just recently, she changed her mind and told him he couldn't stay after he'd been here for two weeks. I felt extremely embarrassed that I made a promise that I couldn't keep.
Suffice it to say there is another side to each of these stories. There was a reason my wife felt the way she did in each scenario. I understand that. Maybe I haven't always been as understanding as I should have. But, I have made a habit of reflecting on my actions, apologizing for my behavior when appropriate, and trying to be better. In contrast, my wife has never apologized to me for anything. Not one thing throughout the time we've been in a relationship, even before marriage. The relationship feels lop-sided to me and it's affecting my happiness. It feels like equality is lacking.
So, my question is, what should I do? Am I off-base here? Am I making too big of a deal out of this? How do I get equality out of this relationship that I feel is perfect in all other ways? I've felt anxious and depressed for the last three days straight.
Respectfully, there's one thing you need to understand and that is your wife is a manipulator and a controller. If you have had to modify your behavior and are always apologizing to her, then she is basically playing the tune to which you dance to. All successful marriages are based on acceptance of each other and having respect for one another without having to make a amends or in your case, huge concessions. Your wife has made decisions which have affected you personally and have affected other people in your circle, without any consideration or apology to you, and frankly, you are the person who should be making these decisions, not her.
When you make a habit of correcting yourself for the sake of your wife, then you are basically attempting to change who you are to keep her happy. It should be that she accepts everything about you without you having to do this. It's no small wonder you find yourself feeling miserable and unhappy. As far as equality in your relationship goes, your wife will never change who she is and her behavior will always be the same but you can make a start by not apologizing when there's no need to. If you felt that you were your wife's equal, as you should do after 3 years of successful marriage, then there's no need to try and do better to keep her happy.
Your near perfect marriage, as you describe it, needs you to step up to the plate and speak your mind without having to worry about offending your wife or apologizing to her for nothing.
I wonder why you feel that you must apologize every time you and the wife have a disagreement. It all sounds so personal!
UNLESS it's because you have made some decisions or requests of her that backfire, due to not thinking things out. Inviting the friend staying for 2 months, for example. What happened that she insisted he find other living arrangements?
(Two MONTHS is a very long time to intrude on a married couple. Two WEEKS is pushing it, too.)
If you error-ed in judgement, then an apology was appropriate - but it needs to be about the situation. "Gee, I'm sorry that I invited Joe to live with us for two months. Things certainly didn't turn out the way I thought."
Your wife married a special man. Making concessions in a marriage is not optional. It’s not just desirable either. It’s required. But I think you know that. That would explain the apologies, self reflection, and trying to be better. Giving up ties your wife didn’t like, matching your socks again, even giving up our pets and friends is part of the arrangement. I think that is why courtships should be a long period of time. It allows us to measure the potential give and take in a relationship and helps us decide if we wish to give more than we take. All this is good, not just in marriage but in any relationship.
However, there is always the unknown, the surprise(s) if you will. It’s what gives marriage some exhilaration but also tension.
I don’t want to make light of your concerns. Once again, your attention in your marriage is highly regarded. Since you have already acknowledge these “stories” have two sides, perhaps identifying the other (wife’s) side is critical to your peace of mind. Talk with her, emphasis on “with”. Your conversation should demonstrate unconditional love for her, as I am assured from your post, it will. Often good, meaningful, and sincere communication builds intimacy in relationships. And we all know where intimacy in a marriage can lead.
I will be anxious and curious to hear how this interaction works out. Please keep us posted.