Offering an Effective Apology
“I said I am sorry, why won’t my partner get over it?”
During a disagreement just offering an apology doesn’t always remove your partner’s pain. When a person feels hurt and wronged by her partner it can cut deep to the heart. She may believe that you weren’t there for her, didn’t understand her feelings, or that she doesn’t matter to you as much as you say. These thoughts can cause feelings of sadness, anger, embarrassment and hurt.
Just Any Apology Won’t Do
Providing an apology without truly hearing her pain—and validating it—is not enough to change things. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a cut with the wound still there. Cuts that are not tended to correctly can become infected and the same can be said for injuries in a relationship; if they are not treated effectively, they can cause even greater damage as time goes on. This is why it’s important to learn how to offer an effective apology.
The first step to an effective apology is to talk honestly with each other, processing what happened. An example would be to let your partner know you feel badly for hurting him, and that your hurt wasn’t intentional. These things happen. With proper steps, you can repair your relationship and reconnect with your partner.
You also have to walk through this process together. It is important not to wait too long to make the apology, or do it too quickly. Sometimes I get asked, “Why not do it quickly?” The answer is because you should take the time to hear your partner’s pain, and let her know you understand why she felt hurt. This can sometimes be difficult because you may not agree about what happened, or with what your partner is saying.
It’s also critical not to get defensive or play the blame game. This isn’t about who is right or who is wrong; it’s about what you did or said that hurt your partner or her feelings. What she experienced needs to be validated, and you can validate her feelings without agreeing with all of the facts. It is important to focus on your partner’s feelings and listen to them.
Something that should be avoided at a time like this is using modern technology, such as texting and emails, to communicate. Texts and emails can cause additional and unnecessary misunderstanding because they lack tone and expression. Using technology to convey you’re apology is not going to have much meaning, as a result. The injured partner needs to know you are sincere, that you really heard his pain and also understand what you will do next time to prevent hurting him again.
Once you hear her pain and listen to her explain why she felt that way, the next step is to validate her pain, and make sure you understand what she is telling you. You can reflect back what she said and ask her if you understood her correctly, or if you missed anything. If your partner agrees you understood her, then it’s time for an effective apology.
An Effective Apology
Here’s an example of what an effective apology sounds like, “I am sorry that I hurt you. I understand why you felt that way. You are important to me, and I love you. Please forgive me. I’m here for you now”. The injured partner needs to feel your remorse and regret. He needs to know that his pain hurts you, too.
The next step is for you to ask your partner what you can do next time, or what she need from you to feel better. It may be a hug, reassurance, holding their hand or a kiss. It’s also important to make a plan as to how to handle similar situations in the future. You can tell your partner what you will do differently in order to make her feel safe, loved and secure.
It is possible to move through a difficult time together. Hurting your loved one hurts you too, and pulls you away from one another. Unfortunately, it happens in all relationships at some point. The more important thing is how you work together to reconnect and come close together again. Avoid sweeping your disagreements under the rug, or pretending it is over. Don’t back away from your injured partner because he is angry or upset. Now is the time to connect, talk about it and walk through it together. You will feel better, your partner will heal and love will be in the air once again!
If this blog post resonates with you and you feel like you'd be interested in exploring the possibility of counseling, contact Jessica today!