Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Gift of Apology

In an earlier post, I wrote about the difference between a present and a gift. I submit that a present is something that is purchased or given simply because it is expected that you will give something. We send our kids to birthday parties with presents and sometimes our own children don’t even know what’s inside the wrapping paper. No real thought given to the present, we just have to give something.

A gift can be purchased, but it also comes with some level of meaning attached to it. Some time has been spent thinking about what would be the perfect gift for a particular individual. A ring is a lovely present for a wife on Valentine’s Day, but a Mother’s ring with a stone representing each of your children is a well-thought-out gift.

Could we apply that same concept to an apology? Should an apology be a present, or a gift? Do you sometimes say, “I’m sorry” even though you don’t really believe you were at fault? Or do you say you are sorry, but then spend several moments explaining why you were justified in your behavior. Why would you even bother apologizing in that case, you obviously don’t really mean it?

The power of an apology is profound, if given as a gift. Think about the last time you and your spouse had a disagreement. Voices may have been raised, hurtful things may have been spoken, and at the end of the incident both of you are feeling angry and misunderstood. Both of you have hastily built up a defensive barrier that neither of you is eager to cross.

Now you have an important decision to make. How do you knock down that barrier? How do you open up the lines of communication again? It doesn’t really even matter if you were at fault; you still have a stake in trying to fix things.

This is the power of a sincere apology. Once it is offered, those barriers seem to come down quickly. It may not be instantly, and your spouse may still need some additional time to process his/her feelings, but you have provided the opening that they can take hold of when they are ready.

However, if an apology is given simply as another way to re-introduce your points of the argument (“I’m sorry that we argued, but if you would only…”) then the apology is negated and the opportunity to diffuse the situation is wasted.

We need to stop trying to justify ourselves through our apologies. If you’re going to say it, mean it. And then stop talking.

Let’s treat the apology as a real gift that we put some time and thought into and give it sincerely. Don’t treat it as a present that we just picked up on our way through the checkout stand because it was within reach and didn’t cost much.

Enter the Anniversary Inn essay contest and win big prizes

I love the month of February here at the Anniversary Inn. It is always fun to see how many couples take the time out of their busy lives and make the effort to do something special for their loved one on Valentine’s Day by spending a night or two with us.

This is what our business is all about. We want to encourage everyone to remember what is really important in life. If you can find that special someone that makes you want to be a better person, or that makes you want to think outside of yourself, you are truly in love.

In keeping with this idea, we at the Anniversary Inn thought it might be fun to get some of your stories about love and commitment to marriage. I recently posted a short story taken from my personal life about my grandfather and the example he was to me in showing devotion and commitment to the woman he loved. In that same vein, we’ve decided to sponsor an essay contest where each of you can submit a short story about an individual, or couple, who showed their devotion to one another in a special or inspirational way.

All submissions will be reviewed and scored by the Anniversary Inn and the top five winners will win a cash-value Gift Certificate worth $100.00 at any Anniversary Inn location, plus they will be entered to win the Grand Prize.

The readers of the Anniversary Inn Reminder will select the Grand Prize winner. Each of the top five stories will be posted here on the Anniversary Inn Reminder and we will let you, our readers, vote for your favorite. The person whose story receives the most votes will receive a free night stay good at ANY of our locations for ANY night of the week. Plus, they will win a dinner for two at one of our Select Partner locations.

The following guidelines will apply:

1. Each story must be an original work created by the individual who submits it.

2. The story should be between 500 and 1000 words in length.

3. The story should be focused on how an individual or couple has shown a commitment to their marriage.

4. The story should be inspirational and positive with no sexual innuendo or vulgarity.

5. The Anniversary Inn will own the copyright to any story that is submitted and will have the right to reprint, or publish the story.

6. Each entry should include a contact name and mailing address, or preferred email address, so we can contact you in the event you win one of the awards.

7. The Anniversary Inn assumes the right to make any grammatical, spelling or context changes as deemed necessary before re-publication.

8. First names only should be used in any story.

9. All submissions are due by February 28, 2009.

10. Only one vote per email address will be accepted for the Grand Prize drawing.

11. Judging for the top five finalists will be based on writing style, substance of the story, inspirational aspect of the story, and the relevance to promoting marriage and strong family relationships.

12. Submit all stories to the following email address: blog@anniversaryinn.com

Love is a verb, not a noun

I’ve always looked at love as a verb, an action word, something that is shown or demonstrated. I think sometimes we tend to minimize the concept of true love by treating it simply as a noun, something that you might possess or hold.

My grandfather taught me about what it really means to love someone. His generation had a different perspective on marriage. When people got married back then, it was a covenant before God and each other that “For better or for worse…” they were committed to one another. No matter how difficult things got, they stayed together and determined to make things work.

Today people get divorced for no other reason than they’ve “fallen out of love.” No-fault divorce has become so rampant in our society that the institution of marriage sometimes takes on the appearance of a social networking program rather than a true commitment between two people to support and take care of each other through the good times as well as the bad.

My grandmother suffered from depression for many years and was not always the easiest person to live with. But my grandfather loved her. He was a humble, gentle man who worked by the sweat of his brow his entire life. He was a farmer, he was a storeowner, he was a steelworker, and he was a volunteer fireman. He was never wealthy, but he was wise and kind and he took his responsibility as a husband very seriously.

As my grandparents got older, grandma became very ill. She was bed-ridden and spent every day lying on her back in their tiny little bedroom. If she needed to use the bathroom, he would carry her from her bed to the bathroom and then back again. He would cook every meal for her and bring it to her. Eventually she began to lose her eyesight. She became more dependent on him even for discussion and entertainment. She could no longer watch television, or read. She would listen to the radio for hours and my grandfather would sit in his chair and talk with her or read her the newspaper, or other stories.

One day when I was visiting, he was so excited to show me this “new” invention that he’d discovered. It was a cordless telephone that he had just purchased. (The rest of us had been using them for years, but he hadn’t been paying attention.) He showed me how he could now go outside and spend more time in the garden without worrying that he wouldn’t hear grandma call from the bedroom. If she needed him, she could page him by pushing the little button on the base unit and his phone would beep. He had devised a cool little phone-holster that he could strap on his belt to carry the phone.

He cared for my elderly grandmother day and night. Keeping her company, ignoring her complaints, loving her regardless of her negativity and promising her that he would always take care of her.

Eventually it became difficult for him to walk, his hips were giving out and the doctors told him that he needed to have both hips replaced. He told me later that the hardest thing he’d ever done was tell my grandmother that he had to temporarily place her in an Elder-Care facility while he had his hip operations. He felt so much guilt over leaving her alone in an unfamiliar place that he rushed through his physical therapy in order to get her back home with him. He later told me that the day he brought her home was the happiest he’d seen her in years. “She was very kissy,” he said, and they spent the next week together, with him sitting next to the bed keeping her company. She died a week later.

Marriage isn’t only about the romance; it’s also about the commitment. We are going to learn a lot about our spouse over the years we are married. We are going to know what makes them happy, we are going to know what causes them pain, and we are going to be able to choose daily which of those results we want to produce.