We all know it is NOT easy to say you’re sorry. Couples therapy tends to be a safer place to express wrongdoing and to forgive, but even during a session reaching this type of vulnerability is really challenging for most people. We’re all human! It’s just not easy to put fear or anger aside and reach out to your partner with remorse. However, in the strongest and most fulfilling relationships, repairing with apologies is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL!
Many clients make complaints about “closure” when there are conflicts at home that are still lingering. But what exactly is closure? Most of the time following conflict, closure is a sense that our partner truly understands how you were hurt, how to make it better, and has expressed how sorry he or she is. Fights that stay open-ended and don’t have closure will breed resentment over time when the issue are big enough. Resentment leads to distance which leads to divorce.
So – this holiday season – make it right by accessing your own vulnerability and saying “I’m sorry.” I promise, it will feel so much better! Here are the most important steps for issuing a genuine apology:
1. Express true regret
(“I’m really sorry I hurt you”, NOT, “I’m sorry you feel that way”)
2. Offer an explanation for why you did what you did or said what you said
(“I felt sad and took it out on you”, NOT, “You just made me so mad that I had to”)
3. Acknowledge your partner’s emotions
(“I realize you felt rejected”, NOT, “I don’t understand your reaction”)
4. Offer a better way next time
(“I will work on calming down next time”, NOT, “I can’t make promises that won’t keep happening”)