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Marriage Counseling: How to Apologize
Marriage Counseling Helps You Give Better Apologies
As you attend marriage counseling, you will likely find that you receive and give many
apologies to your spouse. This isn’t a bad thing; we all make mistakes, and in your relationship you may have both made mistakes without realizing it. As you work on building better communication with your spouse, effective apologies will be an important skill that can help you progress in your relationship.
In this article, you will learn how to improve your apologies. Better apologies can lead to better resolutions and forgiveness for both you and your partner (Related article: The Art of the Mindful Apology).
All Apologies are Not Created Equal
Intentional apologies are an important part of good communication with your spouse. Researchers found that good, effective apologies have six particular components in common (Source: An Exporation of the Structure of Effective Apologies by Lewicki, Polin, and Lount, 2016). As you learn to apply these aspects of effective apologies, you can improve trust in your marriage. Let’s talk about those components.
Expression of regret
To start, it is important to express to your partner that you feel regret and sadness for the harm you caused. When you acknowledge that your actions or words hurt your spouse, you are validating their experience and helping to build trust in your relationship. This is an essential starting point for a good apology that will lay a foundation for the rest of your apology and any discussion that comes after (Related article: What is Empathy?).
Explanation of what went wrong
This one might sound simple, but in your apology it is important to give a short overview of what happened, and where you made a mistake. This shows your spouse that you have evaluated your actions, and you acknowledge that there was a mistake. It also shows your spouse that you care about how your actions and words impact them and your relationship.
Acknowledgment of responsibility
Additionally, you should acknowledge that your mistakes are your responsibility. Sometimes, this is the hardest part of a good apology. Unfortunately, you may often make mistakes without even realizing it! Not all negative actions are malicious, and in your marriage it won’t be uncommon for you to hurt your partner without realizing it.
However, that does not take away from the fact that there was harm, and it is important to take responsibility for your actions. This shows your spouse that you intend to work to make sure the wrong is made right, and that you want to learn from this experience (Related Article: Relationship Problems- Defensiveness).
Declaration of repentance
Next, his step is an important follow up to taking responsibility for your actions; you should also let your spouse know that you want to work to make sure this won’t happen again. It is not enough to just say that you did something wrong and take responsibility. Your apology won’t mean anything to your spouse or marriage if you aren’t trying to avoid the same mistakes. Your spouse will appreciate the opportunity to collaborate together and prevent the same hurt from happening again (Related article: Learn How to Communicate with Your Spouse).
Offer of repair
In addition, you should offer to fix things where you can. This will look a little different for each situation. For example, maybe you were impatient with your partner when they were trying to be vulnerable about a difficult situation with your in-laws. You might try to fix this by offering to re-visit the conversation with your spouse. This time, you can approach things in a more compassionate and empathetic way. This can help to resolve their frustrations instead of prematurely ending the conversation with out a resolution.
We all make mistakes. Fortunately, offering to repair things in your marriage can make a big positive impact and help to build trust for each other (Related article: Marriage Counseling is For Both of You).
Request for forgiveness
Fianlly, ask for forgiveness from your spouse. This might seem simple. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. It can be as simple as saying “I love you, I hope you can forgive me” (Related article: Communication in Relationships). Requesting forgiveness from your spouse gives you both a fresh start and opportunity to try again.
More Than Just “I’m Sorry”- Marriage Counseling Can Help
Learning good communication skills for your marriage can be challenging. But, when it comes to a healthy marriage and relationship, you truly do get back what you give. A marriage therapist can help you make the first step.
Ready to get started? Start couples therapy today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written by Lauren Adkins