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“I Was Wrong”: Saying The 3 Dreaded Words

It is quite the humbling experience to find yourself having to utter the phrase, “I was wrong”, after a drawn-out fight attempting to prove just how right you were… Only to realize that you weren’t. We strive so hard to prove that we are blameless no matter what the situation or circumstance that we can often overlook our own responsibilities in the matter. Yet we need to change this paradigm- especially in our marriages.

Why Is It So Hard To Admit That We Were Wrong?

The honest answer? Most of us don’t want to admit to making a mistake. We aren’t in a culture that emphasizes taking responsibility. Most of us just push the blame onto someone else to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions, or to come under criticism/correction. And then, there is reason number two…

We don’t want to appear “weak”. It might be silly to admit, but there are those who believe that by owning up to a mistake that it is a sign of weakness. Some are even very crafty at manipulating words just to prove that they were right. Often, if you follow the trail of logic carefully, you will realize that the rationale doesn’t make sense. But often you become so tried of going in circles, and the argument itself, that you let the matter drop.

We hear the comical phrase, “I can’t let him/her think that they were right!” implying that to admit to a mistake gives the other person the power/control. While it’s comical on television, in reality it’s sad because what you are saying is that in order to feel good about yourself, you need to be in a position of superiority.

Yet God calls us to be humble. In fact, scripture says that pride comes before a fall. Given in this context – which often happens- we can see how this so easily happens.

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A husband forgets that it is his turn to pick up the children from school… again. Despite his wife reminding him before he left for work, and again sending a text reminder, he still forgets to pick them up.

By the time he remembers, it’s 3:30 and he was supposed to be there half an hour ago. “No worries,” he thinks to himself. “I’ll call my wife. I’m sure she can drop whatever she is doing to pick up the kids. I’ll just say that I got stuck in a last minute meeting.”

The truth of the matter is that he just plain forgot.

He calls her up and concocts this really long, what he perceives to be believable, story about why he can’t pick up the kids. Annoyed that he forgot yet again, and that she has to re-arrange her schedule, she starts to tell him that his actions are not fair to her.

She says that it’s not fair that she has to drop everything and be the responsible one. It’s not fair that he can’t share in the responsibilities of parenting, and that he seems to continually be coming up with lame excuses as to why he can’t pick the children up.

So what happens? It erupts into an argument. He’s being called on his “white lie” because he doesn’t want to admit that he forgot, that he was wrong (pride), and that he will do better in the future (because he may forget again). The result is the fall: his wife in angry, she doesn’t want to talk to him, and after so many “excuses” and too little effort, the marriage is deteriorating.

It may be such a small thing to claim that this could destroy a marriage. However, offering excuses and failure to admit truth/mistakes is not confined to just one area. A spouse may not think that picking up the kids is significant enough to remember, or that if they accidentally forget, surely their spouse will bail them out. They aren’t forced to take responsibility.

Mind you, who wants to teach their spouse a lesson about not picking up the children? It may be a hard lesson learned on both ends.

Toni Troxell discusses the importance of admitting when we are wrong to our spouse and humbling ourselves to ask for forgiveness. She talks about the importance of asking for forgiveness, and what those words, “I forgive you”, truly mean when you are sincere. Keep in mind that when asking for forgiveness, that you do so with a heart that you will do better next time. There needs to be a heartfelt attempt to change the behaviour. Otherwise, it is an insincere gesture which will result in further frustration.

Worse yet is how these excuses erode our marriages. By not taking responsibility, you are telling your spouse that you are not trustworthy. Furthermore, when we get into an argument while trying to prove that we are right, we aren’t hearing what our spouse it saying. Being right becomes more important than considering the feelings of the person that you pledged to love, honour, and cherish. That just hurts.

And the children? What example are we setting? How can we ask them to ask for forgiveness when they are wrong, when we ourselves refuse to set the example? They just learn to be masters in giving excuses/lying just to avoid getting into trouble. And the truth? They first start practise lying with you.

If you want a great marriage… if you want your kids to have a great marriage… it begins with showing that you can be a humble leader. Being humble is admitting when you have made mistakes- and it’s showing your kids how to take responsibility. Furthermore, the most humbling experience is telling your kids that you were wrong. But if you want them to grow into responsible adults, you need to teach by example.

This feature and more in our upcoming issue on “Leading Well In The Home” coming out on February 26, 2019.

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