Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't Get Married If You Can't Admit It When You're Wrong

Real men don't apologize.
- The false prophet Rooster Cogburn; Hezekiah 1:3

Like Gary Chapman I grew up with a father who was truly wonderful in many ways but could not admit it when he was wrong. Since Hezekiah 1:1 says The apple doesn't fall far from the tree I joined the "Never Admit You're Wrong" fraternity.

My boy's just like me.
- The prophet Harry Chapin; Hezekiah 1:4

I now accuse Chapman of breaking into my office and stealing my spiritual journals. Because he writes:
"Shortly after our wedding, I enrolled in seminary and began theological studies. It was in this context that I discovered that the Christian scriptures have a great deal to say about confession and repentance. Confession means to admit that what I did or failed to do was wrong. Repentance means that I consciously turn from that wrong and seek to do what is right. I was attracted by the boldness of John the apostle who said, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I realized that I had allowed myself to be deceived. Blaming Karolyn for my outburst was evidence of my deception. I found great personal solace in confessing my sins to God. To be totally honest, it was much more difficult to learn to confess my failures to Karolyn." (Gary Chapman, Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married, K 502-14)

While this is similar to my story, I now brag on the fact that I first admitted I was wrong about something to Linda way before I got to seminary. Which is good because part of my seminary experience resulted in me thinking I was now smarter than even your above-average Christian. My logical chops got sharpened on the teeth of Bultmann. Tillich, and even Heidegger. I felt that just the ability to say the word "Heidegger" was indication of belonging to a superior race. As exhilarating as this made me feel inside, it did not help my marriage.

Chapman writes: "After spending a lifetime counseling other couples, I am convinced that there are no healthy marriages without apology and forgiveness." 

Linda and I agree 100%! If you are thinking of getting married but cannot admit it when you arw wrong, cannot apologize and ask for forgiveness for what you have done, then you are a spiritually sick person who is going to infect your significant other.

Chapman's chapter on this helps us as he gives the "5 apology languages" he has discovered in his research. Read them closely for practical help. Here are 5 ways to say "I was wrong."

I really like Gary's book - thank you Gary for writing it! But now I cannot resist having some fun with Chapman, since he can only see 5 ways to do something, whatever that might be. (We all perseverate...) So here are my "5 Food Languages":  

1. “The Italians were eating with forks when the French were still eating each other.” (Mario Batali)
2. "Fat gives things flavor." (Julia Child)
3.  "This is so good you can eat it off a bumper." (Emiril)
4. “He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast in his heart.” (C.S. Lewis)
5. “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” (Oscar Wilde)