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How to Apologize (And Actually Be Forgiven)
Apologizing to somebody can be one of the most difficult things in the whole world for a lot of people. I know it can be for me. I mean it’s one thing to realize that you’re wrong but to actually suck it up and apologize is a whole other ballgame.
I’ve seen marriages in which neither person apologizes for anything. This creates a toxic environment and leads to a series of problematic implications. If this sounds like a situation that you’re in or if you have difficulty apologizing to your spouse, then you’re in the right place.
Before I go any further, a quick introduction here. My name is Brad Browning and I am the internet’s foremost marriage saver.
In fact, my Mend The Marriage premier online course has sold thousands of copies. I’m proud to say that I’m responsible for saving thousands of marriages.
All right. Now, back to the topic at hand. Have you ever apologized to someone only to have it fall flat?
Maybe you’ve heard your spouse say, “That wasn’t an apology. That just wasn’t good enough.”
Or worse, you just don’t apologize to your spouse at all.
Admitting when you are wrong is a huge first step, like I said at the beginning. Oftentimes, how you apologize can also be an important factor in whether the apology is effective or not.
In fact, there’s a ton of apology mistakes that a lot of couples commit that can actually lead to massive conflicts.
Take one of my clients, Scott and Stephanie for example. I asked Scott to tell me how Stephanie apologized to him after she had forgotten to feed the dog the other day. He replied, “Her apology wasn’t an apology at all. She told me she was sorry for forgetting to feed the dog but then proceeded to blame me for not reminding her.”
Now in Scott’s case, he did nothing wrong, but Stephanie pointed the finger in Scott’s direction anyway. Scott felt like her apology had just fallen flat and he became upset. So, what was wrong with her apology?
After analyzing a few more of their disputes, I concluded the Stephanie constantly blames Scott for all the wrongdoings in their relationship.
While she did apologize when she felt like she had to, she immediately took some of the blame and directed it at Scott for absolutely no reason at all. Not only that, Stephanie expected Scott to apologize to her as well even though he did nothing wrong.
This kind of thing is actually extremely common in marriages. Many people tend to avoid blaming themselves for their own marital issues.
Another huge apology faux pas is coming up with numerous excuses for your own bad behavior.
In the case of my clients, Scott and Stephanie, I noticed that when Scott apologized to Stephanie for any wrongdoing, he would immediately follow up his apology with a multitude of excuses that didn’t even really make sense.
For example, just the other day, Scott had forgotten to text Stephanie about where he was on Sunday afternoon. Scott apologized to Stephanie for this but then he immediately followed up with, “I just forgot my phone in the car.”
Instead of taking the brunt of the blame, Scott deflected and came up with a lame excuse for why he simply forgot to text Stephanie back. This made Stephanie angry and an argument ensued.
If Scott had sincerely apologized for not texting Stephanie back without coming up with a string of bad excuses, the argument probably wouldn’t have happened and both parties would have been happy and a lot better off.
Another common mistake is when the apologizer expects immediate and unconditional forgiveness.
Depending on the severity and the frequency of the mistake, forgiveness isn’t something that can simply happen overnight.
Instead of impatiently waiting for your spouse to forgive you, prove your apology by talking the talk and walking the walk.
When you do something wrong to break the trust of your spouse, you have to earn it back. The only that trust is going to be restored is through good behavior. If you’ve done something wrong, apologize and take action to fix that wrongful behavior.
Now, these are just some of the most common mistakes that people make when apologizing to their spouses. If you want to learn more about marital conflict resolution, then head over to my website and watch the free video presentation I’ve got up there.
How to apologize effectively?
What makes an apology heartfelt, memorable and most of all, sincere?
Here are a few proven tips that help make sure your spouse knows you mean it when you apologize.
1. Be specific.
When apologizing, don’t simply say, “I’m sorry” and move on.
You’re sorry for what? What specific actions did you do wrong that hurt your spouse?
A heartfelt apology is not two words long. It’s a few sentences. So keep that in mind the next time you make your next apology.
2. Take full responsibility.
Don’t do what Scott did earlier in this article. When you do something wrong, take the brunt of the responsibility. Pointing fingers and deflecting is what children do. Adults take the blame and they move on.
3. Make eye contact when you apologize.
I used to not make eye contact when I apologized until I realized how insincere it made me look.
You know how they say you can tell someone is lying because they aren’t making eye contact with you?
Well, you can also tell an apology is insincere when that person isn’t making solid eye contact with you either. Little changes in behavior like that can have a huge impact on how your spouse receives your apology.
4. Talk about how important he or she is to you.
When someone wrongs you, it almost seems like they don’t care about you or that you take a second place in the back of their mind, and that feels awful, right?
To make sure your spouse doesn’t feel this way, tell him or her how important they are to you during the apology. I promise it will feel much more heartfelt.
5. Offer a solution.
Always end your apology with a valid course of action.
So you often hear stuff like, “I promise I would not do that again.” But a better way to go about it is to ask, “How can I make it up to you?”
Your spouse needs to feel like you feel guilty about what happened. One of the best ways to show them is to do something for them. Help them out by offering something in return.
Now, those five tips about how to apologize to your wife or husband obviously aren’t the end of the battle. Once you apologize, you obviously have to live up to your promise to never do it again and make it up to your spouse.
You also have to realize that your spouse might still be emotional about what happened.
Depending on how severe your mistake was, you’re going to need to let your spouse process your apology properly. He or she might still accost you or criticize you for what you did wrong but you must never ever make excuses or give your spouse any unneeded attitude.
For example, I know a lot of husbands and wives that will say stuff like:
“I apologized already. Why are you still angry?”
“I said I was sorry. What more do you want from me?”
Those kind of statements just don’t help the situation. Remember that an apology doesn’t act as a get out of a jail free card. It’s only the beginning of a healing process that must immediately take place directly after the apology.
If you want to learn more psychological tips and tricks that are going to help you build a stronger, long lasting marriage, then head over to my website and watch the free full video that I’ve got there.
And I’ve also been getting a ton of emails lately asking me if there are more room in my online marriage coaching program, to check to see my current availability and if you can hire me as your coach, just head over to my website and you’ll be able to see if there are any slots available right now. And if there are, I do highly encourage you to sign up as space is extremely limited and spots get grabbed very quickly.
All right. That’s it for today. Thanks very much for reading. I will talk to you soon.