You messed up and made a huge mistake. You really blew it, and now your partner is giving you heck about it. Now you need to apologize sincerely so your mistake doesn’t continually affect your relationship. But sometimes knowing how to apologize in a way that your partner knows you mean it is the tough part.
Guilt washes over you as your conscience reminds you that you didn’t keep your word or your end of a commitment.
If you sometimes feel like it’s easier to be passive, defend yourself, or dismiss your partner’s perspective when you screw up, you aren’t alone.
What more does your partner want from you anyway? You said you were sorry, and that should be enough. Now they can move on, right? Nope.
Your partner wants you to really understand how your blunder affected them. If you understand, and offer some empathy, you can soothe them and even connect with them.Apologizing can also help your partner let go of the pain that your blunder caused them. Recognizing where your partner is coming from means asking them questions in a non-defensive manner so that you can better understand the situation. Only then can you make a true apology.
But of course, if apologizing were that easy, resentment wouldn’t exist, and all of those books on forgiveness wouldn’t fly off the shelves.
If you screw up with your partner, both of you should help repair the situation. Here are 5 important tips for how to apologize sincerely to your partner and heal the hurt in your relationship:
1. Live in the discomfort you feel.
Pretend you are like a journalist gathering data. Ask questions so that you can understand your partner, like:
“How did you feel while the conflict was happening?”
“How did you interpret my actions/behavior when we fought?”
“What do you wish I had done differently?”
2. Reflect back on what you hear your partner say.
Just as a journalist gathers data and reports back what they learned, take what your partner says and reflect their words back to them. Staying present is challenging when you don’t like what you are hearing, but you can do it if you stay reflective.
So, repeat back to them what you hear them tell you to be sure you got an accurate read of the situation. Body language and tone of voice is important!
3. Empathize with your partner’s point of view.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and acknowledge their struggles. Say something like, “Given what happened, I understand why you would feel what you are feeling.” Your partner will know that you care.
4. Apologize sincerely.
Summarize the situation using “I” statements and reflect how your partner feels. Say something like: “When I forgot about the event you bought us tickets for and didn’t show up, you felt hurt and angry. You thought that I don’t care about you or our relationship. That sounds awful. I never intended to cause those feelings in you, and I’m sorry.”
5. Discuss how you can prevent making the same mistake again.
If your partner hears that you are staying accountable and thinking of ways to prevent the same mistake, you show that you care.
Say, “Going forward, I will put all of our events on my calendar so that I won’t forget them.” Or, “Can we discuss a more effective system for coordinating events so that this won’t happen again?”
In such an interdependent relationship, both of you are going to screw up sometimes. But it’s how you handle your mistakes that counts! With practice, you will grow stronger as a couple — when you apologize sincerely, it helps keep love alive.
Previously Published by Michelle Joy on YourTango