In a marriage, every conflict point is an opportunity to learn about yourself and your relationship, says Relationship Coach Nancy Pina. But in many relationships, our reaction to conflict often means either quickly apologizing to smooth over the tension, or holding onto the hurt and stewing about it. Neither strategy allows the kind of reconciliation that can enhance the marriage.
In an article for Hitched Magazine (see it here), Pina says other common apology pitfalls include:
- Not apologizing because you feel you haven’t done anything wrong.
- Not looking at the deeper meaning behind the argument.
- Blurting out a quick apology out of obligation to gloss over blowups.
She explains the method of making an apology that leads to emotional healing and allows the offended partner to hear it and accept it includes the following:
- Be compassionate. Don’t base the need for apology on your own feelings. Just because YOU wouldn’t be offended doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t have the right to be offended.
- Don’t be defensive and try to wiggle out of the conflict.
- Express regret. Say, “I am sorry that my behavior/words/tone hurt you. “Communicate your understanding of what caused the conflict, and say you regret it,” says Pina.
- No Buts. Saying “but” after an apology negates it.
- Ask for forgiveness. This can be hard when you feel you haven’t done anything wrong, but if that’s the way you feel it communicates a lack of respect for your partner’s feelings.
- Still hot with conflict after you apologized? Try a cooling off period or writing out your apology to allow it to sink in.
- Learn your spouse’s emotional trigger points and learn his/her perspective as a way to improve your relationship in the future.
- Honestly assess your spouse’s accusations or feedback. Use it as a teachable moment about your own behavior. Being hope and honest can help you enrich your marriage and your commitment.
Once you’ve made the perfect apology, don’t forget to adjust your words/behavior so that you don’t cause the same hurt again.
Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.
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