What Makes for a Good Apology?

Picture this. You and your partner are re-hashing an issue that has been bugging you for months on end. It feels like your partner has only half-tried to resolve the situation, and you are still on edge. 

At one point, your partner says, “I told you I was sorry!” But that doesn’t help the situation, does it? 

This is a common scenario. 

Why? Because we tell our partner “I’m sorry” to sweep our transgressions or mistakes under the rug. In reality, “I’m sorry” isn’t enough for most people. It’s time to stop apologizing just for the sake of apologizing. 

So, what should you do then? 

Learn How to Apologize the Right Way

Don’t get us wrong. Feeling remorse and communicating it is important. Telling your partner that you are upset about your actions is better than staying silent on the issue. 

In order for an apology to work, however, it has to be more than two words. It has to show your partner that things will change. 

Moreover, your partner needs to trust that things will change based on your discussion. That means you need to…

Ask Before Apologizing

Do you know why your partner is upset? 

Sure, you forgot to check in when you spent the night out with your buddies. But jumping to “I’m sorry” won’t prevent you from repeating your actions. 

Take some time to let your partner vent – and truly listen to them. Put yourself in their shoes. You may get a new insight and begin to understand why you need to apologize. 

Offer a Solution 

You aren’t going to make that mistake again, you say. Which is great, but that doesn’t really give you or your partner a solid foundation to stand on moving forward. 

So, go beyond that promise. Give your partner a plan. Offer a solution when you take your turn to speak. “Going forward, I will set a reminder on my phone to take out the garbage.” 

This gives you an opportunity to build trust. 

Follow Through

One of the reasons that “I’m sorry” doesn’t work is because there’s nothing behind it. You can throw out “I’m sorry” anytime you want, whether or not it means anything. 

While coming up with a solution to your issue is more reassuring, it can also be thrown out disingenuously. 

Don’t do this. Follow through with your plan. You told your partner you would start spending more time with him? Make room in your schedule to go for a walk together. Your solution was to step up and get out of the house more? Set aside some cash in your budget to join the gym.

Whatever your plan is, follow through. And follow through soon. 

This builds a stronger foundation under your relationship. The next time you make a mistake (which all partners do), your significant other will be more likely to trust that you will change moving forward. 

Marriage Help Begins With a Relationship Counselor

Not everyone gets these three steps right the first time. Relationships require constant work, but a marriage counselor can help. 

Reach out today for more information on how to fix the way you apologize to build a stronger foundation under your relationship.