You Said the Wrong Thing to Her, Here Is How You Fix It
Dear April Masini,
My girlfriend and I are the quintessential right brain/left brain couple. I was a Math major in college, while she majored in English literature. She's very good in the spoken/written word, while I'm more of a numbers guy. Well, a few days ago we were having an argument. We don't argue that often, it was just a particular issue that came up, and it got pretty heated. I found myself getting frustrated because I couldn't match her verbally. She said something that really irritated me but it wasn't in any way a personal attack. It had to do with me buying a chair that she thought was uncomfortable. I lost my cool and fired back with a low blow. I said something like "well you have an ample natural cushion, so I can't see why it's a problem". She was immediately taken aback with my comment. She was speechless for a moment, and then she slapped me in the face and walked away. I tried to apologize, but she gave me the silent treatment."
In reality, she's not heavy at all; she's quite fit, in much better shape than me, in fact. She has a lovely figure, 34-24-38, but just has a full, shapely derriere, like Jennifer Lopez. However, she can be self conscious about it, often looking in the mirror and asking me if she looks fat. I know it’s a cardinal sin to make insulting comments about a woman's body, so I hope I haven't done irreparable harm here. However, I do think I really hurt her feelings. How should I go about apologizing to her?
Low Blow Bill
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Low Blow Bill:
There’s no way around this. You went where no man should go – you insulted your girlfriend’s figure. You already know why you did it -– you were about to lose an argument, so you used the old deflection technique of calling attention to something completely different than the issue at hand to throw your opponent off the track that she was winning. And now, your homework is twofold:
Number 1: Impulse control. Just because you’re angry does not mean you get to lash out with a low blow or any other inappropriate comment or behavior. This is what bullies do. If you find yourself getting steamed, count to ten, or leave the room or announce, “I’m getting steamed. Can we take a breather for a minute so I can compose myself?” Or something like that.
Number 2: Don’t win the battle and lose the war. Your girlfriend is a smoother talker than you are. You admit it. So, relax. You’re not conceding anything or showing weakness by admitting she’s better at verbal skills than you are. You’re giving yourself power by admitting the truth. This isn’t to say you’re not great at other things – and you already know what they are – and I bet your girlfriend could name a couple that we can’t print here! The most powerful men are those who know their powers, their boundaries and their limits, as well as those powers, boundaries and limits of those around them.
So, if you know your own limits and gifts, and she knows hers, what was the argument really about? Or more importantly – what was winning the argument really about? I doubt that the two of you got into a heated argument over a chair, as you say. C’mon! A chair is an inanimate object. How could you get so angry about a chair? Answer: You couldn’t. Something else was going on. Either you were vying for a power position in the relationship or you were angry about something else. Figure out what it is you really are angry about and deal with it up front – not underneath other arguments.
And how are you at conceding? Do you ever lose an argument? Anything? Would it have been okay to disagree? How about even (gasp!) letting her win the argument? Was it really necessary to get to the boiling point? Are you the kind of guy who has to win everything? If so, it’s time to take a step back and differentiate between winning a battle and losing the war. While you may win the argument – and it sounds like you did because she walked off – you lost the war because now you’re in the doghouse. If you can slow down your impulse to fight, you can learn to ask yourself these questions while you’re fighting, rather than rushing to win so fast that you don’t realize you’re heating up the fight and getting ready for a low blow and a slap.
Now that you’ve done your homework, the way to win your girlfriend back is to explain yourself to her – and that means doing some deep thinking about the questions I’ve posed above, and then doing some major damage control. You already know it is no more okay for a man to insult the size of a woman’s private parts than it is for a woman to insult the size of a man’s. You know it because you dug that low blow out to deflect the argument away from the fact that you couldn’t spar with her and win on a verbal battlefield.
So here’s your TO DO list for getting her back and getting yourself out of the doghouse:
- Do your homework and figure out why you got so angry about losing an argument.
Also decide what you’re going to do in the future to prevent the fight you two had from happening again.
- Schedule a conversation with her.
Do it face to face at a lovely venue. Something she’ll like. If she won’t meet you, try a phone call. If that won’t work, write a letter.
- At the conversation, or in the letter, explain everything.
And ask her what her feelings are and what she’d like you to do differently. REMEMBER: This is your chance not to argue with her! Don’t get defensive. Practice not acting impulsively.
- Now, the expensive part of the damage control.
Tell her how beautiful you find her body, and how jealous all your buddies are of you because she’s your girlfriend – hopefully, still. Tell her you acted foolishly by making that comment, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, to help her remember this, give her a generous gift. Jewelry is always great. Make it something that will knock her socks off. Buy her some lingerie... and to celebrate her figure. And I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't love chocolate. Buy her a beautiful box of white and dark chocolate dipped strawberries -- and then feed them to her.