How to force a man to apologize?, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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“Do you have a husband? No? That’s good, your life is easier. You don’t need to come up with strategies for dealing with THAT man.”

That’s how Olga, a cleaning lady in a hotel in Buenos Aires, started a conversation with me…

I was sitting in the kitchen, where all the guests gathered to eat a home breakfast together, and somewhere between pouring coffee and heating up the croissants Olga, for some reason, thought about her husband and was very eager to share her reflection with me.

When I was looking on that half-toothless moon-faced Argentinian lady I expected, to be honest, some very dramatic story, because why else would anybody start talking, out of the blue sky, about the strategy of husband handling?

“GARDEN – that’s my way of handling him when he’s bad to me… I take care of my garden. At first I cried, I asked, I explained… But then I noticed that this was just making him angry. In the end it was me who did the apologizing. Have you noticed that men hate it when a woman is crying? Well, I noticed that too. A bit late, but still…

I wasn’t really crying that much, but when I’m sad, I feel that anger because he doesn’t understand that I want something, because he has a grudge, because I’m to blame again because something’s wrong – it’s always like a lump in my throat. So when you push it a little, it works like a button – it activates a waterfall of tears. So now, when I know I have this garden of mine here… I come here and water every single flower. I root out every single weed. One by one – it’s all that I focus on: rooting out the weeds. When I feel like crying, I tell him that I’m going to the garden. That gives me an excuse to be far away from him. So as not to cry or yell. I go out and calm down.

And when he stays alone, he has only himself. No one’s screaming or crying and no one has a grudge. And when you leave a man alone with himself, he gets very scared. He starts thinking too much. He’s afraid that you might leave him… So after a while he comes with mate (Yerba Mate) and says:

“Come, Olga, let’s have a drink. Let it be our peace pipe.”

Does he apologize? HE? No, he doesn’t . I don’t know how your (that is, European – my note) men are, but those here are machists. They’d sooner die than apologize (“European men maybe aren’t machists, but they’d also sooner die than apologize,” I wanted to add, but… I didn’t want to take away her hope that things can be different). But… I know he’s sorry because he made the mate. And so we drink it in peace and everything comes back to normal. Well, sometimes we talk – if there’s something important to talk about – but we do it calmly. I’m after the weeding and he’s after his contemplations, after being scared that I’d leave him alone with the silence… As you can see, my weeding strategy is very good and works very well for my marriage. Besides… you wouldn’t believe how beautiful my garden is! It’s the prettiest one in the whole neighbourhood! No weeds at all! My garden is taken care of and so is my husband.

So, to answer the question about how to FORCE a man to apologize: YOU CAN’T! But you can give him some space so that he can figure it out on his own.

Do you have a garden? No? Well, then you can’t have a husband yet because it might not work,” said Olga and bid me farewell…

Indeed, there is something in that weeding strategy.

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