Remember "Love Story," that 1970 tear-jerker film? If you don't, I'll bet you remember the movie's tagline: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
What a crock! Love means ALWAYS having to say you're sorry:
"I'm sorry I forgot to put gas in the car and left it on empty. And I'm really sorry I said a little walk was good for you."
"And I'm sorry I called you a moron. I haven't forgotten you scored a point higher on our high school IQ test than I did."
"I'm sorry I washed and dried your jeans with your wallet still in the pocket."
"Of course I don't think you're a ditzy ding-dong. I'm sorry I said you were."
"I'm sorry I left the lid up on the toilet and you sat down on that cold china in the dark."
"I'm sorry, too. You're not really a thoughtless idiot. It's just that the toilet rim was really cold."
"I'm sorry I forgot to raise the garage door before I backed the car out."
"And I'm sorry for what I said. I know it's not your blond hair that makes you dumb."
OK, so not all apologies are good ones. And some so-called apologies just prolong the fight. My favorite apologies are the ones where husband Ray and I say simultaneously, "I'm sorry. It was my fault. No, it was my fault. Really, it was my fault. OK, it was both our faults. Let's go out to dinner."
During my growing-up years, my parents were wonderful role models when it came to apologizing ... mainly because I heard them say "I love you" to each other a thousand times more than either needed to say "I'm sorry."
I can remember one apology Dad gave to Mom, chiefly because he was required to apologize for a couple of days before Mom relented and forgave him. What did he do that was so terrible? Well, as an elected official, Dad was invited to a lot of fancy-schmancy dinners; Mom usually accompanied him, looking - as was her custom - elegant and gorgeous. At this particular dinner in Topeka, I'm confident that Mom outshone even the governor's and congressmen's wives.
I should explain that at home Dad had a habit of placing his hand palm-up on the couch where Mom was preparing to sit down beside him. My sisters and I got quite a kick out of her reaction every time she sat on Dad's hand and Mom never stayed mad at him for long. It was all in good fun.
But after returning from a trip to the powder room at the fancy-schmancy Topeka dinner, Mom failed to notice that, as the waiter held her chair for her, Dad placed his hand in her chair. Mom sat on his palm and - according to Dad's account - sprang up yowling like a scalded cat.
That incident was the longest I ever saw Mom stay mad at Dad. But, only weeks later - while some women might still be holding a grudge - Mom was able to laugh about it. She knew that Dad wasn't being malicious, just having fun.
Years earlier, she had pulled a similar trick on him. Dad and a bunch of buddies had planned a fishing trip to Roaring River in southeastern Missouri. They intended to leave before dawn and, while Dad was soundly sleeping, Mom painted his toenails bright red. He dressed in the dark and it wasn't until the men took off their shoes and socks in broad daylight that Dad and his buddies saw the result of Mom's nighttime work. His buddies reacted by throwing Dad in the river.
I was too young to remember if Dad stayed mad at Mom for long - fortunately, he was a couple hundred miles away when he discovered her handiwork - but I'm betting that by the time his clothes were dry, he thought her joke was hilarious.
Enduring love requires a sense of humor. It's been said that the family that prays together stays together. That's likely true. But so, too, I believe, does the family that laughs together.
So, if you need to apologize to your special someone, you don't always have to do it with flowers or candy. Try a little humor. Stamp out I'M SORRY in the snow or tape a screw to a piece of paper and write "I screwed up, and I'm sorry."
Humor in the form of a card is good on Valentine's Day. But so are flowers and candy. Also dinner out.
Happy Valentine's Day to all ... but especially to Ray, the leading man in my love story.