How to Apologize:  The Right and Wrong Way

Posted by on Jul 15, 2018 in Couples Counseling, Couples Counseling For One | Comments Off on How to Apologize:  The Right and Wrong Way

It’s inevitable that couples will argue and disagree from time-to-time. After all, we are human, right?

However, what we do after the argument is really important.

Unfortunately, couples often do nothing, even after having a major argument. For instance, people will avoid apologizing to one-another because apologizing appears to be admitting they were wrong. Even if they do apologize, it only winds up being half-hearted and not particularly helpful.

That’s why it’s important to know how to apologize to your partner.

How Not to Apologize

There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to apologize to your partner.  First, let’s focus on what not to do.

Two examples include:

  • Saying you’re “sorry” in a halfhearted way that doesn’t convey any meaning. Over time, the word loses its value, for you and your partner.
  • Apologizing for what the other person did. For instance, “I’m sorry you misunderstood what I was trying to say.”

Remember why it is important to offer an apology. Arguments will pull people apart and cause them to be more disconnected.  The way to repair the damage and begin reconnecting again is by apologizing. If you don’t, then the issue disappears into the “ethos” only to return again later with a vengeance.

Tips on How to Apologize to Your Partner the Right Way

Now, let’s focus on the right way to offer an apology. Consider these tips:

  1. Don’t be too vague. Be as specific as you can.
  2. Take responsibility for your own part in the argument. For instance, “I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you.”
  3. Talk about what you would do differently when this happens again. You could say that you will do a better job of listening next time instead of tuning out your partner.
  4. Truly follow through with these commitments the next time you have an argument. Your partner wants to know that you are willing to change.

Breaking old habits take time. Remember that it took years to build up those defensive walls that make it hard to apologize.

Setting Aside Your Pride

When you apologize, it’s a time to set your pride aside. Do you want things to be better between you and your partner? Or, would you rather hold onto that pride? Consider for a moment: what will pride give you over time and is it more important that your partner?

As you can imagine, things will only get harder between the two of you if you don’t set pride aside. In the end, your pride not only hurts you, but it damages to your relationship.

The First Step to Repair the Damage

Apologizing is only the first step in the process of repairing the damage in your relationship. Most likely, if you argue often, there are other issues causing relationship damage. That’s why it’s important that both of you attend couple’s counseling.

Together you can develop the skills needed to communicate effectively with one another. In my experience, most people are actually pretty receptive to learning how to apologize and repair the damage.

Therapy gives you the chance to rethink how to apologize and get it right.

Also, knowing how to apologize can prevent an argument from blowing up into a major disagreement between partners. When you don’t address these issues, over time the arguments will cause a rift between the two of you. This makes it even harder to come back together. If this sounds like you, consider participating in couples counseling with your partner.  

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