How do you recover from an epic failure as a wife?
It was an evening I will never forget, and not in a good way.
I love my husband. We’ve been married 18 years and while it has not always been pure marital bliss, it has been fun. But there is one incident I can remember when I felt like a complete and total failure as a wife.
We were sitting at the dining room table in our house with my husband’s parents. I don’t remember what all we were talking about before I started telling my story, but it really doesn’t matter.
I told the story about my husband because to me, in retrospect, it was funny. It was not a funny story as it was happening (I seriously thought he was dead), but it had ended well and now seems funny.
So after the kids were in bed and the adults were hanging out telling stories, I told my story. I told how I had felt when I made dinner. how I felt later when the kids went to bed. I shared what went through my mind when I went to bed, and later when our oldest came into our bed in the middle of the night. Because everything turned out fine, and all my fretting and worrying turned out to be for naught, I never considered that there would be a problem with me telling what happened that crazy February night.
My husband didn’t see it that way. He was not very happy and he threw water at me right then and there.
I left the table shocked, and horrified, and hurt. I didn’t even realize what I had done. Why was he so mad? I went to my room and cried, just so sad that he embarrassed me in front of his parents like that.
But the truth was that I embarrassed him. My story made him look like an irresponsible fool, and I told it to his parents in his presence. My husband who I was so proud of, who had done such amazing things, and I made him look like a nincompoop.
Yup. Epic failure. Great wife moment. Great daughter in law moment. Just great.
How do you come back from a moment like that?
First things first: apologize to the one your hurt.
Once I realized what I had done, I felt horrible. I never meant to insult my husband, especially not in front of his parents. I love him and I love them (they are amazing people and I have always said that I lucked out in the in-law department) and I was embarrassed at my own naivety about telling the story. Once I understood where he was coming from, I apologized profusely. I never meant to hurt him. When he insisted that I never tell the story again I said yes.
Secondly: apologize to others who may have also been offended.
We all make mistakes and usually we say we are sorry to the one we hurt, but don’t forget that others were probably watching what you did. As Christians we have an obligation to apologize and make things right. In this case, there was no getting around the fact that my words affected my in-laws as well. I had insulted their son and I had a duty to apologize to them as well. Fortunately, they were very gracious (like I said, awesome in-laws. They have loved me unconditionally from day 1).
Thirdly, learn from your mistakes.
It is so easy to tell stories that poke fun at other people, whether or not that is your intention. How many times as moms do we ask our children, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” But what example are we setting in our own story telling? 1 Corinthians 10:32 says “Do not cause anyone to stumble.” I am so glad my kids were in bed that night and did not hear me tell about Daddy’s mistake. Wouldn’t my words have caused them to stumble? How can you respect someone when Mom is making that person sound like a buffoon? I want them to hear me tell about the amazing things he has done and what a good leader he is, not reminding them or him of his mistakes. It is so important as moms that our kids hear us tell of Dad’s strengths and accomplishments. When you say something less than flattering, make sure you apologize to the person and to the kids. It sets an important example.
Finally, remember that God’s mercies are new every morning.
Yesterday’s epic failure is just that: yesterday’s failure. It does not belong in today or tomorrow. It should not be hanging around our necks, still weighing us down after so much time has passed. It is not His desire that you carry that guilt around with you day after day after day. He promises forgiveness and His love for us is SO great. Confess, repent, and know that you are forgiven.
We seem to live in a time when forgiveness is not a common occurrence. It is easy to hold on to hurts and while most of us say, “I am sorry,” it is very rare to hear someone say, “I forgive you.” But that forgiveness is so important for both the one who gives it and the one who receives it. Forgiveness releases the debt, the burden, the guilt. We need to ask for forgiveness and we need to be able to offer it in return. When my husband and I finally talked about that night, I had to say not just, “I’m sorry,” but even more than that, “Please forgive me.” There is a significant difference.
Listen, we all make mistakes. That’s part of life. The important thing it to apologize to everyone you hurt or offended, learn from your mistakes, and remember that God’s mercies are new every morning.