I Said I Was Sorry!

Have you ever heard those words or spoken them?  Why is it that so many times we need to come back and say again, “I SAID I was sorry! What more do you want me to say?”

Cecilia Johansson

Cecilia Johansson

The Apology is needed in every marriage tool box.  Why?  Because we all mess up. We all make mistakes, and do things we promised not to do.  We say things that are insensitive and hurtful, and the list goes on.

Generally speaking, we are not very good at apologies.  We often mouth the words but true repentance is far from reality.  Inwardly we are saying, “I’m sorry, but ….”    So our spouse doesn’t believe us for a minute and thinks if you were REALLY sorry, you’d stop doing whatever and quit making lame excuses.  Ouch.  I guess it doesn’t look like I’m really sorry.

How do we apologize?  I mean REALLY apologize.  So that it is accepted.  How do I honestly convey my regret?

Fortunately, there an app for that!!  Oops, I mean a book for that.  There may be an app for that, but for now a book will do.  I’m referring to The Five Languages of Apology Amazon by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas.  Yes, you’re right.  This is the same Gary Chapman who authored The Five Love Languages.

What an insightful book.  It looks into the ways that we typically apologize, our apology temperament if you will.  Here are the five languages of apology:

  • Expressing Regret – I am sorry
  • Accepting Responsibility – I was wrong
  • Making Restitution – What Can I do to make this right?
  • Genuinely Repenting – I’ll try not to do that again
  • Requesting Forgiveness – Will you please forgive me?

Most of us are looking for an apology to be sincere.  An apology that has an excuse built right into it is worthless.  You are simply absolving yourself on the back end of a hollow “I’m sorry”.

We also like to hear the offender take ownership of what happened and not spread the blame onto others.

There are a series a questions in the book that help you identify your particular language of apology or what’s important to you when someone is apologizing to you.  Is it enough that they express regret, or is it important to you that they also clearly accept responsibility.

And so, I’m sorry for not going in to more detail in this blog.  I know it’s my fault and I could have done a better job. Next time I will.  Will you please forgive me?

Now, go home and tell your spouse you’re sorry.

Fables and Fairy Tales

There is a long tradition of teaching life principles with short stories like Aesop’s fables, parables, and fairy tales.  I ran across one such pithy tale in a book by Mort Fertel, Marriage FitnessAmazon.  The story is one of love and sacrifice.  I was struck with how well it illustrated the concept of Selfless Serving, a cornerstone principle of our blog.  Here’s a brief summary of the tale.

There once was a brave knight in King Arthur’s court, Sir Gawain, who uncovered a plot to kill the King.  To save the King’s life, he had to agree to marry Ragnell, the unsightliest maid in the kingdom.  On their wedding night, she was amazed that he never showed revulsion or pity for her and she asked one thing of him.  She asked for only one kiss.                                                                                  

Photo by Gabor Palla

Photo by Gabor Palla

Sir Gawain gently kissed his bride.  When he opened his eyes the most beautiful women he had ever seen was lying next to him and he asked, “Where is my wife Ragnell?”  She replied, “I am your wife Ragnell and now I must tell you the rest of my story”.

Ragnell told him her evil jealous stepbrother had a sorceress put a curse on her, turning her into the ugliest woman in the kingdom and because he had treated her with love and not pity, she could give him a choice.  She could be beautiful by day so that all would see Sir Gawain was a lucky man married to a beautiful woman, or she could be beautiful by night when they were together.  Ugly by day, beautiful by night, or beautiful by day and ugly by night.  It was his choice.                                                        

Sir Gawain immediately declined to make that choice.  He said that she must choose and he would accept her decision.  And at that, the curse on Ragnell was lifted and she was once again beautiful by day and night.

In this simple tale, we are shown that we have choices.  Gawain gave up his right to choose and let his wife choose the best for her.  We can also choose to serve our own needs and wants, or we can choose to surrender our desires and selflessly give to our spouse.

Here’s a Date Night idea.  Take turns asking your spouse these questions:

  1. Do you feel that I am attentive enough to your needs?
  2. Do you think I take the time to really hear what’s important to you?
  3. What would you say are your four most important needs?
  4. What can I do to better meet those needs?

Remember marriage is a “We” relationship.  No one is perfect.  We can all improve and we need each other.  Help each other so that you can better serve and love one another.

Who knows, you may make a fairy tale marriage!

Who Are These Bears?

The Lions, Bees, Bears, and Otters are four temperaments explored in Dr. Sandra Scantling’s book Extraordinary Sex Now. Previously we explored the structured, disciplined Bees and the whimsical frolicking Otters. And we have also looked in on the take charge Lions. Now let’s look at the loveable supportive Bears.

A Syed

A Syed

Bears are stabilizers. No big surprises here. They tend to be thoughtful and contemplative types, often shy and retiring. They’re supportive and calming to those around them. They fear rejection the most and want to be liked, accepted, and appreciated. They are good listeners and non-confrontational, unless backed into a corner; then watch out. Bears can attack if provoked. They also tend to hide their feelings, so you will need to gently coax them out of their den. Quite cautious, Bears avoid risks. They prefer to play it safe, so don’t expect them to respond quickly or to take charge of things. They may procrastinate, waiting for a safe time to proceed.

Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind if you are married to a Bear:

  • Be clear about what you want and expect. Bears aren’t mind readers.
  • Don’t expect perfection. Bears are ok with good enough – Bees should take note.
  • Affirm and praise your Bear for positive efforts – Appreciation is important to them
  • Avoid blaming or finding fault. This will drive them into their cave. Bears with hurt feelings stew for a long time.
  • Be patient with your Bear. They will come along, but usually later rather than sooner.
  • Because they fear rejection, be thoughtful how you bring up things for constructive review.
  • Give your Bear space. If they need time to think it over, it will be time well spent.
  • Solve tough issues a little at a time, to avoid overwhelming them.

For those of you who identify with being a Bear, here are some things that will be helpful to you:

  • Make a concerted effort to understand your partner’s feelings. Practice empathy to see it through your partner’s eyes.
  • Listen to your own feelings. This is tough. Reach deep to understand what you are feeling. Then, let your partner know.
  • Work at being more assertive. Express what you think. Take a risk.
  • Open up and share things about yourself that are personal.
  • When you are hurt, be honest and willing to express what has hurt you. Don’t bottle it up.
  • Try to be more adventurous. Make the suggestion for what to do on your next date and have some fun. Learn to be a little more Otter-like.
  • And finally, it’s OK to say No. Don’t agree to do something and then be angry because you really didn’t want to do it. Be honest in the first place.

Be thankful for your Bear. They will be supportive and loyal to you. Appreciate them and don’t try to make them into a Bee or a Lion or an Otter.

Bear with them as they are.

Who Are These Lions?

The Lions, Bees, Bears, and Otters are four temperaments explored in Dr. Sandra Scantling’s book Extraordinary Sex Now. Previously we explored the structured, disciplined Bees and the whimsical, frolicking Otters. Now we’ll take a look at the bold, conquering Lions.

 Gergely Kökényesy

Gergely Kökényesy

Lions make no apologies for being in charge. They’ve mastered leadership skills and boldly take point on most projects. They are strong, confident, and responsible, prefering to do things themselves, finding security in knowing it will get done right. With all of these positive qualities, Lions can also be lonely, insecure, and concerned about being unlovable. While this seems a contradiction, it’s part of the fabric of the Lion’s temperament. They have a tough, take charge exterior, and an insecure, do you still love me interior.

Lions are quintessential extroverts. They speak candidly, then are confused why you think they’re insensitive. You asked what they thought, and true to the nature of the Lion, they told you while firmly lodging their foot in their mouth. They have high expectations and value conquering and attaining their goals. They are generous and see value in helping the less fortunate.

Here are some other qualities you will often find in the Lion:

  • They like being the initiator, the leader
  • Generally prefer to lead on their own as opposed to being a co-equal team player
  • Quick to anger and let you know their upset, but get over it quickly and move on
  • They can be short on patience and frustrated with someone who takes too much time or reflection
  • Can be intense, focused, overbearing, and pushy to get things moving
  • Appearance is important and they take pride in looking well dressed and groomed
  • They can be arrogant, self-serving, and out of touch with the needs of others

If you find that you are married to a Lion:

  • Remember they enjoy a challenge. If your relationship is  stale, try to engage him by considering together what will move your relationship from a 4 to an 8 or a 9.
  • They like to be in control, so challenging their leadership will be unwelcome. Make suggestions not demands.
  • Understand that they want to know that they are loved. Beneath the tough exterior is often insecurity.
  • They appreciate a forth right approach. Don’t beat around the proverbial bush. Get to the point.
  • Be clear when they have hurt your feelings. Lions are not the best mind readers, so you’ll have to come right out and say it. They appreciate the direct approach.
  • Lions thrive on verbal affirmations and physical shows of affection.
  • Don’t harbor hurts. Get things resolved sooner rather than later.

And some suggestions for you Lions:

  • Lions would do well to remember to be more flexible and understanding. Remember that when you reach the goal, you’ll want us with you.
  • Temper what you say and how you say it; not everyone desires to hear it like you see it.

Next time we will visit the cave of the stabilizing Bear.

Who Are These Otters?

The Lions, Bees, Bears, and Otters are four temperaments explored in Dr. Sandra Scantling’s book Extraordinary Sex Now. Previously we explored the structured, organized, and disciplined Bees. Now we’ll go on a wild ride with the enthusiastic, frolicking, and spontaneous Otters.

There’s no doubt if you’ve married an otter. They will often be heard saying with exuberance,

“Let’s just go do it!.”  

Martin Simonis

Martin Simonis

Before you know it, you’re off another great adventure to the coast, or a five hour drive to Canada straight up I-5 in the snow. Or you’ll find out that in two hours you’re hosting a party and twenty people are coming for BBQ. “But it’s OK,” you’re told, “Most of them are bringing their own beer!” Well la te da, aren’t you thrilled. They’re bringing their own beer. What do we have to worry about?

Here are a few tell tales signs that you’re an Otter or you’re living with an Otter:

  • They are charming, lovable, fun loving, and often very generous
  • Neatness is not their strong suit – after all, we can clean up tomorrow
  • There is never a dull moment – spontaneity reigns supreme
  • They love to make life joyful and take adventures just for the fun of being with you
  • They can be creative, imaginative, and great practical jokers
  • They like variety. Too much structure confines and restricts them
  • Being supportive and accommodating are some of their better qualities
  • They can easily spend all they have because money isn’t a primary concern to them
  • They are free spirited risk takers

Otters should try to remember these things in order to live in closer harmony with a non-Otter spouse:

  • A little structure won’t really hurt you
  • Try a little long term planning and set some goals with an action plan
  • Hold back on some of your impulses and reflect on choices available to you
  • Think through your options keeping in mind other’s feelings – your spouse will thank you
  • Remember to balance your need for fun with practical things, like the bills

For those of you blessed with the joy of being married to an Otter:

  • Don’t make it your life mission to change your Otter – Learn to love them as they are
  • Appreciate that their spontaneity can add passion and excitement to your lives
  • Avoid being a nagging parent type reminding your otter of chores and tasks
  • Finds ways to get things done together without crushing their otter spirit. Get stuff done and then go have fun. If fun is at the end, you’ll be surprised how fast tasks get done.
  • And finally, remember your otter is a kid at heart. Embrace and love their uniqueness.

Thank God for the Otters in our lives. They don’t see boundaries; they see possibilities. They don’t create walls; they envision the wide open expanse. They are full of joy and enthusiasm.

Hopefully, some of that will rub off on all of us.

Next time we’ll take a look at the Lion.

Who Are These Bees?

Our last blog was an overview of a book by Dr. Sandra Scantling: Extraordinary Sex Now. In her book she examines four basic temperaments: The Lion, the Bear, the Otter, and the Bee. Today we’ll take a closer look at the Bee personality.

Andrea De Stefani

Andrea De Stefani

 Generally speaking bees tend towards the following traits: Practical, ambitious, predictable, security minded, task oriented, very detailed, meticulous, good money managers, and logical. They take control and avoid impulsive behavior. They like facts over feelings and when others are patient with them, allowing them to think things through. They are all about fairness and proper balance. They value cleanliness and like things scheduled. They are good planners, but not good at delegating since they prefer to do things themselves so that they are done right. They tend to be very exacting with themselves and demanding of others.

Do you see your spouse in the list above? Or do you see yourself? Perhaps you’re a bee who married a bee and things have been very orderly since your well planned wedding.

Dr. Scantling has several hints that are quite helpful if your spouse is a bee. Here are a few:

  • Understand that they need order and structure
  • They can best communicate with facts and are overwhelmed by feelings and emotions
  • Share your admiration for their strengths and how much you appreciate them
  • Feelings don’t come easily for your bee so be open whenever they attempt to share theirs

Bees, while having so many positive strengths such as being good providers, dependable, and well-mannered, can be a handful with their constant attention to detail and need for structure. Because they are so task oriented, they may overlook many common social sensitivities. They may stress the facts rather than trying to understand what you are feeling.

And finally Dr. Scantling has a few suggestions for you if you are a bee:

  1. Learn to understand the feelings of others. They may not always seem logical to you, so you will need to learn empathy.
  2. Set aside time for a date night with your spouse. Don’t worry so much about an agenda that you overlook the joy of just spending time together.
  3. Look for the positives in your spouse and compliment them regularly.
  4. Work on sharing your hopes and dreams and plans. No need keeping all of this to yourself.
  5. Cultivate some spontaneity in your life. Drop what you’re doing and go have some fun.
  6. Work on changing your “absolute” thinking. Life isn’t always about right or wrong.
  7. Let yourself have some space if something isn’t “just perfect”. Sometimes things can be good enough as they are. Don’t stress and fuss over perfection.

We can all appreciate the wonderful qualities of Bees. After all, life is sweeter with a little honey.

Lions and Bees and Otters and Bears, Oh My!

We all remember Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz repeating over and over “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” So it was sure funny when I ran across a book by Dr. Sandra R. Scantling titled Extraordinary Sex Now: A Couple’s Guide to Intimacy in which she cleverly refers to our marital relationship in terms of Lions and Bees and Otters and Bears.

Oh, my!

Since my last blog covered being “in the mood,” I thought I’d stay in the mood with a few comments about Dr. Scantling’s book. While the title may suggest a racy exposition on the subject of sex, I found her book was quite insightful in detailing relational styles and how they affect our intimate interactions. It is more a primer on how to understand one another than on how to do one another.

Now about Lions, Bees, Otters, and Bears…  Here’s a very brief summary:

  • Lions –  Energizers – communicative, controlling, critical, assertive, energetic, demanding, risk takers
  • Bees – Workers – practical, analytical, organized, perfectionist, precise, orderly, hardworking, planners
  • Otters – Players – playful, dreamers, artistic, impulsive, disorganized, fun-loving, rebellious
  • Bears – Stabilizers – cooperative, agreeable, conflict avoiders, thoughtful, stubborn, generous, nurturing

Do you see yourself and your spouse in the list? Many of us are a combination, such as a Bee/Bear or a Lion/Otter.

You can see that certain temperaments will have a challenge functioning on a day to day basis with a non-complementary temperament. Sure, a Bee can get along with a Bee because they are so well organized. And two Bears will have a wonderful time because they’ll never disagree; they’ll just go along and be happy Bears.

But what about two Lions? Who gets to make the decisions? Who gets to lead? And consider two Otters. They want to have fun, no matter what. But what happens when one wants to hike and the other wants to visit with friends all day? Who decides? Yes, the Bees already have an answer: Take the friends on the hike!!  Those clever Bees!

You get the idea. Maybe we can get along with a spouse that is similar to us. But generally speaking, we tend to marry the opposite of who we are. A Lion will marry a Bee or an Otter and the sparks will fly.

Dr. Scantling’s book breaks down these complicated interactions and gives detailed suggestions on how to cope with divergent personalities. If we can learn how to get along better outside the bedroom, it will be easier inside the bedroom.

This speaks to the primary themes of Common Sense Marriage:

Personal Growth and Selfless Serving.

When we work at growing by seeking to better understand ourselves and our spouse, we can apply that understanding and become a more empathetic partner. We actually serve each other when we increase understanding. And we grow closer and desire to share that closeness in an open and intimate way.

So, who are you? Lion, Bee, Otter or Bear? Would you love to find out? Stay tuned and we’ll go exploring together.