To err is to be human. In a relationship, these ‘mistakes’ could be intended or unintentional.
Apologising after an intentional mistake shows your willingness to repair a broken relationship. Apologising after an unintentional mistake shows that your partner’s feelings matter more to you than your ego about being right.
Either way, a sincere apology can work wonders for a relationship and could potentially close the gap that was there during the fight. When you genuinely apologise, it shows you’re willing to back down from a fight.
The Power of Saying Sorry
Saying sorry validates your partner’s feelings which is important for a healthy relationship. It shows that you acknowledges your partner’s hurt. Your partner’s dignity is restored and will feel better.
Yet “Sorry” Seems to be the Hardest Word
Understand that saying sorry is not always about who’s right or who’s wrong. Some people avoid apologising first for a number of reasons:
• An apology means they have to admit there is something wrong about themselves and that they have to “fix it”
• They are trying to manage their own feelings of shame or guilt by not apologising and instead,, blaming it on the other person
• They feel that they have to bring up the incident in the past when they want to move on
• They feel that apologising is a sign of weakness and by doing so, they are giving the other person ‘power’ or ‘control’
Sometimes, you may be genuinely regretful but lack the way of communicating your sincerity. If so, read on for some tips on how to say sorry properly.
1. Acknowledge the Hurt
The first step requires admitting hurting your partner and to reflect on your actions that could have upset your partner. This signals you are willing to take responsibility for your part in causing the hurt.
2. Be Specific
For your apology to come across as genuine, you need to be specific about what you’re sorry for. Just saying “I’m sorry” alone makes you appear flippant. For example, you could say “I’m sorry for ignoring your messages yesterday”, “I’m sorry I got held up at work and missed our date” or “I’m sorry I did not say something when you wanted my support.”
3. Don’t Use “But” / “Because”
For a sincere apology to work, you need to let go of your defence. Using words such as “but”, “because” is an attempt to validate your own behaviour in the incident, which makes your apology insincere.
Your partner wants to believe you are trulyregretful for your behaviour. Don’t include a caveat by saying “but” or saying things such as, “You did it too!”
4. Ask for Forgiveness
The hardest part of an apology is probably to ask for forgiveness. This makes you vulnerable because you are admitting your flaws to your partner.
Asking for forgiveness also gives your partner the power to forgive and to move past anger or hurt. While some mistakes may take some time for your partner to forgive (and some mistakes unforgivable), forgiveness for trivial matters should be given quickly for the relationship to heal instead of creating a gap and causing you to drift apart.
5. Offer Repair
If circumstances warrant it, you may need to show how you intend to make up for the mistake and stop making it in future. If you keep repeating the mistake, the sincerity of your apology will be lost. Figure out how and why you keep making the mistake and address it with your partner. Asking your spouse for support will show that you are serious about setting things right and mending your relationship.
6. Give Your Partner Time (To Forgive)
You may need to give your partner some time to heal and forgive you. However, don’t let the incident drag on for too long as it could create a gap in your relationship.
7. Forgive Yourself
In the meantime, forgive yourself for making the mistake. As much as you seek forgiveness from your partner, know that you are not infallible to making mistakes too, and that you can learn to be better.
A good apology can bring a couple closer together. A bad apology may bring about greater resentment andtension, creating a downward spiral in your relationship. Don’t let it get to this stage.
If you feel that your inability to apologise is causing tension in your relationship, you can seek help from a therapist.
"I Still Do" 2020
"I Still Do" is back to celebrate a lifetime commitment of love and marriage. The road to a long lasting marriage may have its ups and downs, but the promise to never give up on each other is everlasting. Click here for more "I Still Do" tips and activity ideas to spark joy in your marriage!