7/9/2012 2:35 PM
Many people are afraid to apologize, and this can damage their relationships. Some people don’t like to apologize because they feel like admitting mistakes weakens them. Others are just too embarrassed. However, when we hurt our partners and fail to make right, it leave lingering unresolved feelings that can cause bitterness, and a rift between you and the one you love.
The words “I’m sorry,” can be so difficult to say, but, they have the power to smooth over differences and patch up relationships. So, how do you apologize when you’ve done something wrong?
- Acknowledge what you did wrong (even if it’s not entirely your fault). It’s rare that an incident that creates ill feelings is entirely one person’s fault. And, you don’t need to apologize for factors that were truly not your fault. However, you should still apologize for your role in what went wrong, however small. Taking responsibility to whatever part is your fault goes a long way toward restoring trust.
- Acknowledge hurt feelings. Tell your significant other that you understand that you caused her pain.
- Say that you are sorry. Be sincere. Do not give a “sorry you were upset” faux apology. These push the blame back on the injured party, and do more harm than not apologizing at all.
- Promise not to repeat your error. Again, it is important to be sincere here. Do whatever is necessary to make sure that you do not hurt your partner again in the same way.
- Offer to make amends. This can be a specific example of something you are willing to do ("Can we go out tomorrow night to make up for missing the dinner tonight?") or a simple question, "How can I make it up to you?" There is no need to be grandiose, or to offer amends that are outsized. It is important to make good on whatever you promise to make up for your lapse.
Finally, when you are on the other side of this transaction, and someone is apologizing to you, accept the apology graciously. Don't respond with a new tirade or subject your partner to the silent treatment. If it’s going to take you a little while to cool down and forgive, it’s okay to say so. But, it’s not okay to hold things over someone’s head, or to forgive someone and then change your mind. If someone has been good enough to acknowledge that they were wrong and extend an olive branch, if you care about preserving the relationship, do your part and accept it.