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‘I’m sorry.’

There’s a strong chance you use this phrase a lot. In fact, you probably use it way too much – and it’s not your fault. Society has taught us to say sorry – to feel sorry – whether we’re in the wrong or not.

Today I’m joined by my wife Jasmine to talk about creating a relationship that matters, and not one that makes you right or wrong.

Should you say you’re sorry?

Do you even need to apologize?

We’ve both got different views on this, but guess what?

We’re still married. It’s still working.

And today we want to help you build a stronger relationship too.

Here Are The Show Highlights:

  • Negotiating your way to a better relationship (1:45)
  • A guy's addiction from a woman’s perspective – what’s it actually like? (3:20)
  • The detrimental thing about an apology, and why “I’m sorry” doesn’t always translate (16:10)
  • Is marriage just a set of business transactions? (17:00)
  • The #1 reason why we have the hardest times with the people closest to us (19:15)

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to www.liberateaman.com and book a call where we can look at your situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the "F Word" here - Freedom. We'll share, straight from the trenches, what we have learned from leaving our own addictions behind, and coaching hundreds of others to do the same, and since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it.

Bob: Alright, guys. Welcome back to the Alive and Free Podcast. This is episode 13. I'm super excited. I wanted to bring on a special guest today just for kicks and giggles. So this is my wife. Her name is Jasmine. She goes by mom sometimes at home. She goes by "Hey, you." Sometimes there's other colorful names that people call her in this house.

Jasmine: I don’t think I ever go by "Hey, you."

Bob: I brought her on because we want to talk about a topic that I feel like is exceptionally important inside of building a relationship and part of freedom is the freedom to be yourself without worry about retribution. We have talked about this a little bit in previous episodes, but when you're inside of a really intimate relationship, a relationship that's close, a lot of times you can step on each other's toes and it can feel like you're not allowed to be wholly you. [0:01:21.8]

So we wanted to talk about this idea of relationship, what happens when one person is offended. Should you say you're sorry? Do you need to apologize and I brought Jasmine on because well, she and I have different views about this and guess what - we're still married. It is still working. So it's okay if you have a differing viewpoint on this. As we're raising the kids, the kids get both viewpoints, perfectly well, and so we wanted to kick this off. I'm going to kick it off with a story. Some time ago, this topic came up for Jasmine and I. We were on a beautiful, sunset walk. No, not on a beach. We were actually on a dead end road by a farm field that ran right next to a highway. So it was far less romantic than you may have been imagining. [0:02:04.3]

We were walking home and I was telling her about some of the relationships that my clients were having. Right? These are people who have been struggling with particularly porn addiction, other addictions as well - depression and anxiety, but porn addiction especially and the wives notably are upset by this. They feel betrayed by it. They feel all kinds of other things and so as we started talking about it and the topic of should the guy say he's sorry for doing something - should the wife say she's sorry for doing something came up. It came up and we both have different viewpoints. So I wanted her first and foremost to give her perspective on what's going on inside of that relationship. Now, not everyone of you is dealing with addiction. Not every one of you that's listening is dealing with porn addiction and not every one of you that's listening may believe that porn is a bad thing inside of a relationship. So, don’t just take this only here. What I want you to do is - whatever the issues that are arising in your relationships are, whether it's with a wife or a friend or a co-worker or a boss or anything - recognize that there are differing opinions and that the other person might be experiencing something a little bit different than you and we want to figure out how to negotiate that relationship. [0:03:16.2]

So we're going to go back to what my experience was and what Jasmine is going to tell us about kind of how the wives feel about this and what's going on when a guy is inside of an addictive behavior or behavior that she simply doesn’t like, but addictive behavior and particularly porn addiction because I think people want to know what it's like from the woman's perspective.

Jasmine: Okay.

Bob: That wasn’t a question, so she has no idea what to say.

Jasmine: He just looked at me. I didn't know I was supposed to say anything.

Bob: So, what is like, from your perspective - okay, a husband comes home. Either he told or he didn't tell you or you found out, either way, porn has been involved and a lot of times or he's been yelling at the kids or whatever is associated with it - but something has been involved and a lot of times the guy is tired of saying he's sorry. The guy already feels broken and he feels like there's all this kinds of other stuff going on and a lot of the guys that I'm working with are desperately trying, deliberately trying, to fix it. [0:04:13.5]

So they're doing everything in their power to fix it. They don’t now how. They're often failing and sometimes they fall back and the women, a lot of women, like hold them hostage against it. You know, they come up and they're just going, dude, you know, yeah - I get that you do this, but you did this to us. It's your fault kind of thing, and they're expecting some kind of remorse or apology or some kind of feeling and a lot of times, when the guy starts to heal, he starts feeling better. He's happier. Like, he's let go of some things but then I see women - not all women - so this is not a blanket statement, but I see a lot of them, they can't let it go. And you know, we could talk about this in terms of betrayal trauma, for sure, but they can't let it go and they expect the guy to feel a certain way, to feel sorry, to say sorry, to be apologetic in certain ways just so that they feel validated or something. Can you speak to that at all? [0:05:04.4]

Jasmine: So I think there's a couple of different feelings that at least I had with this. One was you know, after so many years of just dealing with an addicted husband, like I'm sorry didn't mean anything anymore. Like I was sick of it. I didn't like to hear it. I didn't believe it. Like, it didn't mean anything, and so, in that case it was just like, okay - whatever. It doesn’t even matter. It would have been nice at the beginning to hear like a sincere I am sorry just because it is a horrible thing to have to be on the opposite end of addiction and be of support but then you're, you know, you have all these things that you have to deal with personally and it hurts you know. It hurts that someone you love doesn’t really love you or show that they love you at all. You know, and they're doing all these things that just hurt you and sometimes it would be nice to hear a sincere I am sorry, but towards the end, it was just like, whatever - I don’t even care because I know you don’t really feel sorry. That's how it felt. I don't know if he did or not, but it just wasn’t even worth listening to anymore. [0:06:17.0]

Bob: Were there times where you wanted me to give an apology and I didn't give an apology?

Jasmine: There were a lot of times I wanted you to give an apology and you didn't.

Bob: Yes, folks. I was a dork. I still am a dork, but a different kind of dork.

Jasmine: But I think a lot of that came from our different viewpoints as well of when you actually should say you're sorry or should not or if you should at all, you know.

Bob: So we're teaching our kids about this because well, okay, this is important. So in my point, from my point of view, I got to a point in my life where I was looking at this going, wow, man - every time I say I'm sorry, what am I actually saying. Somebody gets hurt and I sit here and I say I'm sorry, meaning I am sorrowful, I am full of sorrow - it's where the word comes from, and somehow, the other person is supposed to feel better by me feeling bad. [0:07:12.1]

Where on earth did we get this idea that me feeling bad is going to make somebody else feel better? That's the first part. Because when I was a kid growing up and my mom is a saint, she's amazing, so this is not a disparaging comment toward her or my dad or anything about them, literally, but we were taught and you all might love that I think I'm the dork, but we were taught, look, no - you got to go say you're sorry. Go tell your sister sorry. Go tell them sorry. And so as a kid growing up, I learned that saying sorry was legitimately a way to get out of punishment, a way to end punishment, a way to like appease people but it didn't actually have anything to do… I could see as a kid it wasn’t fixing anything. It's literally sound vibrations coming from my throat. They weren’t even nice sound vibrations. A lot of times it was like, "Soooryyy."

Jasmine: "Soooorrryyyy." But I think that's pretty much every parent on the planet, "Go say you're sorry and give your sister a kiss or hug," you know, like and then you do it as hard as you can, you know, shove them on the floor, make sure your mom doesn’t see, but then you did it. [0:08:13.8]

Bob: "You want a kiss? I'll give you a kiss." So, this is what I learned, but as a kid, I could see it and I bet, if you look back in your own memory banks, folks, and you look back as a kid, there are things that you were taught, that you were lead to believe were the way that things are supposed to be, but with your own eyes, you could see things are different, but you accepted the authoritative view because, well, if you didn't there were punishments, let's be honest. So here I was, being told I needed to go say I'm sorry, but it didn't make any sense to me because it wasn’t actually fixing anything. If I punched my sister, saying sorry at the bruise does not make the bruise go away. It was … that's not some ancient healing remedy.

Jasmine: Magic words.

Bob: Yeah. Magic words is supposed to be please and thank you. Maybe I should have said those at the bruises. That would have been awesome. So like that's not actually happening. [0:09:05.7]

So I grew up feeling that and seeing that. The confusion inside of saying sorry and feeling like I was supposed to say sorry, like it was an obligation, but inwardly knowing it wasn’t doing anything and inwardly also knowing sometimes I wasn’t sorry. So saying sorry when I'm not sorry is also a lie. But even if I'm not sorry, I can also recognize, hey look, I punched somebody. Let me go do something to help alleviate the bruise to make it heal faster, and even if I'm not sorry, I can still do something to make things a little bit better and to help the person heal and to fix what's going on. So as I developed over time, I developed this viewpoint that me saying I'm sorry does a couple of things - one - it reaffirms to me and becomes a kind of weird affirmation that I am sorry. I am a sorry excuse for life. I'm a sorry human being and this is me being super sensitive as somebody who was inside of addiction - not everybody feels this way about it. But like I'm sorry, I'm sorry - sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, and it actually just removed all the power I had to do anything. [0:10:05.4]

You know, sorry I'm late. What if I just said, "Hey, thank you for waiting," you know. And what if the other person were aware enough to be like, "I wasn't waiting. I was just enjoying my life." You know? So, sorry itself became something that was a negative affirmation for me. On top of that, I saw, and sometimes I wasn’t sorry, but I still did want to like fix things and not break stuff, and then the third thing was I realized that sorry didn't actually fix anything. So I stopped, as much as I could, from saying sorry and from apologizing, which apology is a Greek term that literally means a defense. And I was like why would I apologize? There's no defense for what I did. It happened and why don’t I do something powerful with it and move on? So I bring this into our marriage and in the middle of it, I stopped saying sorry for stuff. So then my wife is a little bit expecting something different because, and this is going to be your cue, right - because she grew up feeling differently about apologies and saying sorry. [0:11:05.4]

Jasmine: So I… I think I took more of the feeling of sorry, like the lesson learned. Bob and I think very differently. He thinks very, what's the word - he nitpicks everything, you know. Like he dives deep and like …which is fine… it's good for a lot of things, but like, for me, I just … I can kind of surface level, I take the general feeling of what I think it should be and I kind of just go with that. For me, sorry was this, well you don’t have to like… you should feel maybe a little bit sad that you caused somebody pain and that's where the word sorry comes from. It doesn’t mean you're wrong, you're dumb, you're stupid, which is kind of the feeling that I got from Bob when we got married because I can probably count on one hand how many times he actually said sorry to me in our first 10 years of marriage and probably even after that…

Bob: Okay, guys - wait - I'm….

Jasmine: … because he still doesn’t say it.

Bob: I'm not a monster. Okay. Am I monster?

Jasmine: No. [0:12:06.6]

Bob: Okay, okay. I'm just wanting this for our viewing audience. Oh, funny. Okay, keep going.

Jasmine: Are you sure?

Bob: Yeah, I'm sure.

Jasmine: So, he wouldn’t ever say sorry. Like he would step on my foot on accident and he wouldn't say sorry. He was addicted and he wouldn’t say sorry. You know, things like that, and I just wanted somebody who cared that I actually got hurt, but the feeling I got from him not ever saying sorry was "I don’t really care that you feel hurt right now, so you good? Can we move on?" is kind of where I was at because he refused to say I'm sorry. How I grew up, how I was thinking in my brain was like you said sorry and you actually meant it, then like, the other person actually cares about you. They care that you got hurt from something they did and then they want to fix it, instead of just like, well I don’t really care that I hurt you, but we need to move on, so just like, get over it so that we can get past this. [0:13:09.6]

Bob: Yeah, so what that brings up is this cool…this happens a lot in every relationship and not just with apologies - everything. There's an expectation that is set up. In this case, from upbringing - in Jasmine's case, from her upbringing and what she felt. In my case, in reaction to upbringing.

Jasmine: And I think it's not just upbringing because, you know, you can have siblings with the exact same upbringing but they interpret things differently.

Bob: Yeah.

Jasmine: And so it's like upbringing plus how you interpret it, that upbringing.

Bob: Yeah.
If you, or someone you know, is looking to drop the F Bomb of Freedom in your life, whether that's from addiction or depression and anxiety or just anything that's making you feel flat out stuck, but you have no clue how to shake it and just want help doing it, head on over to LiberateaMan.com and book a call, where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you've been missing.

Bob: So there's some expectations in place, and this, and like, I think your view probably matches a lot of people's view, which is the sense that there is an expectation that if you do something that injures someone else or that in any way inconveniences them, even if the inconvenience is their own fault sometimes in society these days, you know, "I apologize that my kid has a poopy diaper." Why are you apologizing for this? The kid has a poopy diaper. Why are we apologizing that his insides are working well? I will go change it, but I am not in control. Anyway. So…

Jasmine: And I agree with you on that. All the needless apologies - it's kind of just like a reflex word thrown out there nowadays. I don’t feel like you need to apologize over everything, but if you actually like hurt somebody intentionally or not, that's when, for me, it's well you at least try to feel…

Bob: And here's the thing - like, an expectation is that way and because the expectation wasn’t met, not only did your foot get stepped on - what else happened? [0:15:05.1]

Jasmine: Well, I got mad because I didn't think you felt bad or anything. Not that I wanted you to feel like horrible, like, oh my gosh, I'm the worst person, but like, oh, she got hurt and I did something to hurt that and you know, just like a little piece of sorrow. I don’t even know what to say… like…

Bob: Would you please have a heart and not a steel chest?

Jasmine: Yeah. I mean, I expected you to feel something for me that I got hurt and then want to help fix it, but like the feeling that was there that was just like get over it was like, well, this guy doesn’t really care about me or my feelings and do I really want to stick around for that?

Bob: Yeah. So this is like a level of validation, then?

Jasmine: Yeah.

Bob: So, as not validation in the sense that everybody's like I want to validate your feelings - that's dumb. Maybe we can talk about that on a different episode, but like a sense of validation. Look, if they don’t feel bad, if they don’t have a response at all, then I feel like I am not worth their time, their effort, their affection…

Jasmine: Right. [0:16:07.9]

Bob: …. Or whatever and then all of a sudden, you feel negative. Right? This is the thing that I feel is so detrimental about apology - the expectation of it. I think it's powerful to actually, if you do feel some level of concern and care for somebody, to actually share that with them and I do frequently now, you know. If I see something is off, I will express my concern or something else like that. I'm paying attention to what's going on with you. Right? There's no response to that one.

Jasmine: Right.

Bob: Right. Wait, no - is it right?

Jasmine: Yeah.

Bob: Okay, good. Okay. Just checking. I'm not trying to feed her answers. So I think that's powerful. The expectation that someone else says they're sorry for you to be able to feel better and get over it and to feel validated and good as a human being. That is where the largest trouble I see in with the apology culture that we have is showing up. [0:17:01.8]

So we have people that can't let go of something bad that happened because they feel the need to be apologized to because they can't … they've been taught since the time they were a kid that if they don’t say sorry, then it's not over with. I need to have them say sorry so that I can move on. And that level of expectation inside of any relationship is going to cause problems. We don’t just do this with apology. A lot of marriages these days are basically business transactions, you know. I'm going to bring home the bread and butter. She's going to service my needs a few times a week. She'll take care of the kids. I'll do the toilets, which I have been doing miserably at recently…

Jasmine: Yeah, because I've been doing them.

Bob: Noted here, folks, on public radio or podcast. This is something that must change.

Jasmine: That was the business transaction before we got married - I would do other chores. He would clean the toilets.

Bob: So, but like we have these. Marriage has become a business transaction and if either party doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, then the other party feels justified. The ability the leave. It's not a real relationship in the sense that it's two people that love and support each other. [0:18:06.7]

It's a business transaction and if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, then I can't love you in the same way. And that piece needs to go. That doesn’t mean you have to accept everything that that other person does and this isn't carte blanche to go be a jerk, guys. But what it does mean is your expectations, if you're the guy, what are of the expectations you have of your wife that or your girlfriend or your business partner or your boss that are making you upset with them? That you feel they need to be a certain way in order for you to be able to let things go? Those expectations are the cause for your misery and your suffering. Women - what are the expectations you have of your husband that you feel like he has to look a certain way, feel a certain way, say a certain way in order for you to be able to let things go and move on with your life and you be happy? Now, note carefully - I am not talking about physical safety and endangerment here. Yes, if the dude is violent, then you don’t need to sit there and suck it up. Okay. So make sure that you're safe first and that you feel safe inside of the container. This wasn’t about safety with Jasmine and I. This was something different. This was about connecting as human beings. [0:19:11.7]

Jasmine: Yeah.

Bob: So this is a really important thing to understand. The whole concept of sorry lies inside of a larger problem inside society, which is that we show up inside of a relationship with expectations and here's the problem with expectations - you show up needing them. You show up in a relationship ready to extract something from somebody else, and the reason we have the hardest time with the people who are closest to us is because they're the ones who we feel like are trying to extract the most from us. So we're most on our edge. We're most guarded. We shut ourselves off. We get more irritable with the people that are closest to us and we treat them the worst because we feel like they're trying to take the most from us. At any time, anybody is taking something from you. It's natural to recoil, to pull back and to close yourself off. That's not the basis of a relationship, but if you are full to overflowing on the inside, to where you need nothing from them for you to be happy, then if they show up to take, well, they're not taking from what you need. [0:20:10]

They're taking from all of the excess that you have and all of the joy and all the happiness and you still have the ability to make a choice about whether you want them to keep taking from you or not. Like this doesn’t take away your free will. But the key to understand here is that underneath of the need to say, to apologize and say sorry is this idea that it's an expectation. Now, reach out and love the people. Do care for them. But my suggestion when it comes to things like this are if they feel like they need you to say sorry for them to be okay, it's okay to say sorry, but more importantly, go do something that helps them actually get better. See if there's something you can…maybe they don’t, with our kids, with our kids, it's crazy because one of them hits him and so we're like, look, go help him feel better. You hit …

Jasmine: Go fix it.

Bob: Go fix it, you know. And so then the brother goes to fix it and then the one who got hurt goes, ehhh, ohhh, ughhh….

Jasmine: So they're chasing each other around the house, fix it…[ 0:21:07.3]

Bob: One of them is trying to fix it. It's like when someone stabs you in the back. You're not going to like, he's like, oh no - let me fix it - you're going to be like, get away from me. That's kind of how it happens with the kids. Understand that if do injury somebody physically or emotionally, they might not want you around. Honor that. But do what you can to create an environment where they can heal as quickly as possible. So there's a funny story about this in the news. Back in 2009, a guy by the name of Dave Carroll was on a United Airlines flight. He had a band. I forget the name of the band, but they were flying some place and they look out the window and they're notified that the United crew is like chucking luggage. They look out and they see their guitars…maybe they don’t look out - maybe that was in a song, but I don't know if they looked out, but they were notified that luggage was being really poorly handled. So they get to the new place. They pull it out and it turns out that his Taylor guitar, $3500 guitar, is broken. So nine months of rigmarole, right - they're a band - so nine months of rigmarole - he's going around, trying to go through the proper channels to get United to like pay for a new guitar for him or pay for it to be fixed. [0:22:10.9]

He found a place that would fix it for like $1200, but all he got was sorry, sorry, sorry - sorry, sorry, sorry - there's nothing we can do for you. They passed the blame for a long period of time. He finally gets the final note from them after nine months and he promises the person - fine, what I'm going to do is I'm going to write three songs and I'm going to publish them and I'm going to make a video for each one and put them online for the whole world to see. So he did. They have banjoes in them. They're guitar songs. They're kind of corny, like, countryish songs. Kind of funny. You can find them on YouTube. United Breaks Guitars. That's the one song that's got like 19,000,000 views or something. They went viral, these videos about them breaking his guitar. So it turns out that United could have paid, you know, a couple of thousand bucks to help him with his guitar, but because of these songs, he didn't want an apology. He didn't want them to say sorry. They said sorry the whole time. [0:23:01.5]

What he wanted them to do was just simply make it right. It would have cost them a couple of thousand dollars, but policies being what they were, it wasn’t always the employee's fault by any stretch of the imagination. They said no. So what happens? He publishes the songs, kind of in revenge. They go viral. Within four days, United's stock shares go down like 10% and they lose $180,000,000 just because of this song that was written because they were trying to say sorry instead of literally trying to do something to make the situation better. So as we wrap up today, I just want you to consider that. consider that saying sorry, habitually, isn't helping anyone. It's just disempowering you. Saying sorry when you have done something wrong may make the other person feel a little bit emotionally better, but it still doesn’t fix the situation and most people don’t want a sorry. They want to feel better or they want to feel like you care about them as a human being. So most important in all your relationships is that. Care about people as a human being. [0:24:04.7]

Jasmine: Yeah. I still think that saying I'm sorry but truly meaning it can be very, very powerful, but I do agree that there also has to be some kind of maybe not action, but something where the situation can be fixed. Right? So like if I hurt you and I do feel sorry about that, I can say I'm sorry, but then I'm going to do all that I can to help fix what I did, to help you feel better and that kind of thing.

Bob: Okay. So as you leave today, over the next few episodes, we're going to talk about some fun little topics that kind of go around some of the other things that will help you experience more freedom in your life. So be excited for that. Next time, we're going to talk about crappy teachers and the one-armed man. So get excited about that. But as you leave today, I want you to go look in your relationships - what expectations do you have of them that are one - not communicated and two - not necessary. The second piece that I want you to do is look at all the places where you're apologizing but you're not actually doing anything to fix it because what matters is that you have a relationship with a real human being, not that you're right.

And that's it for today's Alive and Free Podcast. If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your ear buds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcasts from, and while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you, and plus, it's just nice to be nice.

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