You know that proverbial Hollywood scene where the girl is mad at the boy, but then he presents her with a fancy jewelry box? And you know that it protects outrageously expensive bling? The girl gasps, and in a flourish of diamonds and sparkles, all is immediately forgiven. The two of them go off into their perfect ‘happily ever after’.
Has that ever happened to you?
I saw a more honest scenario in “The Shiny Trinket Maneuver,” an episode of TV’s “The Big Bang Theory”. Sheldon needs advice on what to do when Amy is angry with him, and an exasperated Leonard suggests that he skip over any attempt to repair the emotional connection and “win back her affection with an empty financial gesture.”
In other words, don’t bother to change or grow, just get the bling. Or the new 52” TV. You get the point.
Using Gifts to Replace the Hurt
Making sincere apologies can be very difficult. A gift can be a key part of an apology – a next step when the words have been said but somehow aren’t quite enough. Done appropriately, a gift can replace the hurtful gesture with a positive emotion.
Some rifts are too large for this approach, and allowing a bit of time to pass would be a better option. It’s also important to know the person to whom you are apologizing. Some might appreciate the bling while others would consider an expression of gratitude more appropriate – and harder to come by. For example, those who are punctuality-challenged might acknowledge a friend or spouse who regularly waits while we finish baking, or cleaning the car.
If an apology is necessary, and for us imperfect humans, it often is, use your best judgment. Consider something creative and thoughtful. When you put time and effort into selecting the right gift, it shows an appreciation for the other’s feelings. If you’re parents, you might offer to give your partner some time away, or take responsibility for car maintenance, for instance.
What special interest or skill does the other person have? Consider a gadget that they would never purchase for themselves. Gifts don’t stand alone as an apology, but the act of doing or giving something special can often bring a sense of closure to everyone involved.
In the end, for Sheldon, this final tip is what made his apology successful. He purchases the bling and gives the package to Amy, whose first reaction is to call him selfish and manipulative. Then she pulls out the beautiful tiara and screams. Ultimately, she forgives Sheldon because his gift made her feel like the most important person in the world.
And that is how we should treat those we love.