The Dog House
Are you in the dog house so much you have started to decorate?
Do you want to get back on track with your significant other faster?
Do you want me to stop asking stupid questions and get on with it?
Why You’re Still In The Dog House
You’re Not Doing It At All
Apologizing. This reminds of the of the man’s prayer (at 2:17 in the video) in the Red Green Show. It goes like this (if you didn’t watch): “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.” As men, we are not comfortable with admitting the mistakes we make. Apologies expose our flaws and vulnerabilities. It also reminds us of our tremendous power to hurt other people.
So we don’t apologize. We redirect. We blame shift. We lie. We cover our butt so we can still “look good” even if we did something awful.
Our self-image survives at the cost of someone else’s feelings. This is fine, if it is just some jerk in traffic, but less so if it is someone who shares our bed.
Maybe you have a problem with empathy and wonder why she runs from the room in tears at times. “That’s odd, all I said was …”, this is what my wife (THE ONE) calls a “Stupid Guy Move”. I get it, you aren’t tuned in to your surroundings and just don’t notice your jerkish-ness. Eventually, someone will tell you, probably very directly, exactly what type of wiener you have been.
Either way you aren’t apologizing and it is keeping you in the Dog House.
You’re Doing It With Wrong Motives
OK, you own it this time. You correctly read the tears streaming down her face as a mild indicator of your mistake. She is hurt, and you know you did it; there is no getting around it. So, you apologize.
Now you want her to stop with the waterworks and make dinner already. You apologized. Done. What’s the big deal?
The big deal is you only did this to move to the next moment in the relationship. You don’t care how bad it hurt or whatever; you just want to get back on track. You haven’t connected with her pain or perspective of the damage you have done.
Trying to stay out of the Dog House just got you an extended visit.
You’re Doing It Wrong
OK, you’re willing to acknowledge the infraction and you have set aside every guy-thought in order to connect with her pain. You’ve realized other methods are not productive and want to give her what she needs.
“Sweetheart, you are very important to me and I am really sorry for what I have done.”
Ta-Da. Excellent apology. Cue the End Zone Dance. (“I rock, man.”)
OK, not bad. This will work … for a time. Just because you have elevated yourself above the average Neanderthal, doesn’t mean you can continue playing the same tune and expecting it to work. Women eventually catch on. They get that you are sorry, but so what? Big Deal! What else?
Neanderthal grunts, “What you mean, ‘What else?’ Me say sorry and mean it.”
Yes, we all know you mean it. Now go shave your back and then we will continue our lesson.
(Obligatory pause while listening to hair-clippers.)
How To Nail It
According to Roy Lewicki in this summarized Irish News article, your apology must contain these elements, and the more the better:
- Expression Of Regret
- Explanation Of [What You Did] Wrong
- Acknowledgment Of Responsibility
- Declaration Of Repentance
- Offer Of Repair
- Request For Forgiveness
Let’s break it down. Here is the incident: You are talking to your mother-in-law and say something brilliant like “All Cadillac drivers are complete idiots”. Your mother-in-law, a Cadillac owner, replies with, “Oh, how fascinating.” Or so you thought. Later your loving wife drops this bomb “You are a self-righteous knucklehead. What’s wrong with you?”
Man’s brain begins to process.
—- Waiting —-
—- Waiting —-
—– Waiting —-
Her mom drives a nice car.
—- Waiting —-
Isn’t it a Cadillac? Ding.
At this point you have realized the mistake. Now is your chance to apologize and get out of the Dog House quicker than before. It should go something like this:
“Woman of my dreams, I really screwed-up (Regret) when I said ‘All Cadillac drivers are idiots’ (what you did wRong). I wasn’t thinking and I totally hurt your mom’s feelings (Responsibility). In the future, I will consider my audience before making sweeping judgments (Repentance). I will call your mom and apologize, but what else can I do to make it right (Repair). <Pause for her to answer.> Will you please forgive me (Request)?”
Use the 6 Rs to Apologize
Now you have seen how it is done, remember the six Rs for future use:
- Regret – express your regret for hurting her
- wRong – explain what you did wrong
- Responsibility – take responsibility
- Repentance – turn away from your foolish ways
- Repair – ask how you can repair the damage
- Request – don’t expect forgiveness right away, but be sure to ask for it
As a fellow man, I know we have a lot to apologize for. So, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Step up to the next level of manhood and own your own stupidity. Put in the extra effort and make the apology good. You may be in the Dog House for a little while, but not as long as you would have been. I know you can do it.
Once you get some practice, change it up a little. Start with the Request, “I’m asking you to forgive me for …” or what you did wRong “When I used your good bra to wax the car…” Then do the other Rs.
For The Women
You probably knew this pattern before reading this article, so print it out and give it to the man in your life. He will get it … eventually. Also, this might work to make amends with someone you know.