How to Apologize to Your Spouse
Apologizing is one of the most challenging things we learn how to do in life. From the time we are little kids, hitting our siblings and being forced to say “sorry,” to when we are old and too stubborn or prideful to apologize to people, it remains a difficult task. Some of us never learn. But don’t let that be you! Especially when it comes to your spouse. You CAN learn how to apologize to your spouse.
One thing everyone gets wrong about apologizing
First things first. Let’s set the record straight. There is a right way, and a wrong way to apologize for something. But here’s a really important tidbit that most people get wrong about saying “I’m sorry”.
An apology does not have to be an admission of guilt. Instead it is a recognition of someone else’s hurt. This is important to realize. It helps us realize that we are not apologizing at our expense, but rather for our partner’s benefit.
Why is learning how to apologize important?
Learning how to apologize to someone you love is probably the most important communication skill you can bring to your marriage. Here are some reasons why.
After you have hurt your spouse, intentionally or otherwise, it’s important to reassure them that you care about the way you made them feel. If you give them a proper apology, and make the necessary changes, your partner will feel reassured that they can trust you with their emotions again.
A proper apology after an argument or fight helps both parties find closure. For couples who fight effectively, they know this works from experience. By acknowledging your role in creating hurt for your spouse (especially if there is mutual apologies), you can both close the argument promise to make changes and feel more at peace.
Its the right thing to to
Simply put: If you hurt your spouse, the right thing is to acknowledge their feelings, and make amends. You know how awful it feels when someone has wronged you, and you never feel like they’ve righted the wrong with an apology. It sucks. It hurts.
Don’t be that guy/gal.
It’s a great exercise on swallowing your pride
In my humble opinion, pride is an incredibly dangerous human feeling. While I do think taking pride in your accomplishments is great, and something everyone should do, being prideful for the wrong reasons is harmful. If you take a sense of pride by being right in an argument, you are missing the point.
Letting go of that stubborn prideful feeling for silly reasons, helps you keep your ego in check. Your ego makes you do unproductive things to “protect” yourself. Learning how to apologize is an excellent exercise in checking your ego at the door.
Knowing when to apologize
Chronic apologizing isn’t healthy either. It’s not necessary to apologize for every little thing, all the time. People who tend to over-apologize tend to lose their self-worth and surrender onto the recipient.
So, no – you don’t need to apologize for every little tiny thing.
But as a general rule, as soon as you know that something you did hurt your spouse, it’s time for an apology. Even if you didn’t mean to hurt them. Yes, even if they misinterpreted your actions.
How to Apologize, step-by-step
By now, you’ve gotten a glimpse of how to apologize to your spouse the right way. But now, we’re going to do a deep dive on the exact steps you should take to give a proper apology.
1. Say I’m sorry
This is the simplest step. Say “I’m sorry for my actions,” or “I’m sorry that I made you feel this way. This starts the process of you taking responsibility. By saying the words, “I’m sorry,” your partner will begin to see that you are taking responsibility. This also tends to have a calming effect, and helps steer the conversation in the right direction.
2. Take Responsibility
After you have said you are sorry, it’s time to be specific about why you are sorry. Do NOT put any thing on them. You can’t say I’m sorry, but… you did this to make me feel bad…” This will negate your apology and just make things worse. It is insincere.
Accept responsibility for what you had control over in the situation(your actions), and they will eventually follow by example. It may take a while, but if you can create a space of reconciliation, your spouse will likely be receptive.
3. Change Behavior
After you have taken responsibility for your actions, it is important to tell your partner that you will work on the behavior that hurt them in the first place. And then actually work on the behavior. Be cognizant of your partner’s needs the next time you fight. If you do it again, be quicker to apologize, and acknowledge that you are aware of what you did.