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Apologies can be a very powerful healing tool. However, in my experience, few people apologize and even fewer do it correctly. We often model our behaviors, including our behavior when we need to apologize or accept an apology, based on how our parents and grandparents handled disagreement and apology. If they modeled problematic ways of repairing relationships, these tips may help you in your own life!
Showing remorse, and accepting remorse, is a skill that every person in a romantic relationship must develop. The ability to apologize and to accept an apology can go a long way towards repairing troubled relationships. Building “apology skills” helps us move on and grow.
I have found that there are very few couples where both partners are good at giving and accepting apologies. This is a shame because getting better at apologies can be a boon for your relationship. Try it and see for yourself!
Apologies, when done correctly, are great for healing your relationship and bringing you closer together.
✅ The correct way to apologize is to acknowledge your fault and stop there. Do not add excuses. For example, “I am sorry for losing my temper and talking to you like I did.”
❌ The incorrect way is to blame your partner and avoid taking responsibility. For example, “I am sorry I lost my temper. However, if you had not done or said ____ I would not have said those things.”
✅ Be sincere.
❌ Avoid apologizing in the heat of the moment where you really don’t mean it. An insincere apology will just dig your relationship into a deeper hole. When you are both calm, apologize from the heart.
Your goal when accepting an apology is to uplift your partner, not humiliate them. Graciously accepting an apology opens the door to sharing and intimacy.
✅ The person on the receiving end of the apology should accept the apology with charity and acceptance, remembering we all make mistakes and need forgiveness.
❌ The incorrect way of accepting an apology (which is, unfortunately, the usual way), is to rub the person’s nose into it, roll your eyes, glare at them, or tell them something like, “The next time don’t be so stupid like your mother and you won’t have to apologize.” This is a sure way to shut down any future apologies!
Have you ever found yourself or your spouse trying to apologize, but just getting deeper into conflict? Often, apologies contribute to a downward spiral, frustrating both of you and inflicting more damage to your relationship.
If you try and justify your behavior by blaming your partner – stop. This will not go well.
Trying to create a distraction, by dredging up your partner’s history of errors is also not a good idea. When you need to apologize, “the best defense is a good offense” is just not true. Bringing up old hurts will lead to more anger and more resentment. Stay in the present and deal with the problem that you have right now.
Before you apologize, take a moment to pause. Is your apology aimed at healing? Is your apology going to blame or shame your partner?
A sincere apology shows your partner that you are open and able to change for the benefit of your marriage.
When you are on the receiving end of an apology, listen – really listen – to your partner. Allow them to speak without interruption. Wait until they are done before you respond. By listening carefully, you will make your partner feel valued and they will be less defensive. Acknowledge your partner’s strength in being willing to apologize and honor their courage by graciously accepting the apology.
Sincere apologies build and restore relationships. They are a sign of strength and character.
An effective apology is not like a time machine. It can’t erase what happened, but it can enable your marriage to move on. I would love to meet you and hear your story! Just call to book your first appointment or simply fill out my contact form and click Send.