How to Apologize in a Marriage

by S. Grey
Apologizing is difficult, but necessary and rewarding for your marriage.

Apologizing is difficult, but necessary and rewarding for your marriage.

Apologizing is a hard task, especially when you feel you haven't done anything wrong. However, offering your spouse an apology can mend a rift in your relationship. The right apology may not come quickly, but it will mean the world to your spouse when he hears it. Apologizing takes courage -- it's not easy to admit you're wrong or that you've done something hurtful. At first this vulnerability can seem scary, but it also leads to a deeper relationship with your spouse when you're apologetic.

Pride is a stumbling block in apologizing. With pride in the way, you are likely to feel justified in upsetting your spouse, or you may not feel you did anything wrong. Pride contributes to negativity that harms a marriage. It's a feeling that leads to assumptions and hinders your ability to repair rifts. Letting go of pride is essential for embracing vulnerability, one of the key components of an apology according to "Mediate," a site dedicated to helping couples resolve issues. Though it feels like giving up power, releasing pride is a part of healing your spouse's feelings.

Bitter or angry apologies are not genuine and can make a bad issue worse. Bitter apologies are issued begrudgingly and are disrespectful. If you don't want to apologize but only do because you feel you have to, you are not demonstrating to your spouse that your pride is more important than his feelings. An example of a bitter apology is, "I'm sorry -- apparently you need me to apologize." Angry apologies carry an element of blame and resentment. These apologies are hollow and may escalate. An example of an angry apology is, "I'm sorry you're so sensitive and got upset at what I did."

Mediate cites two active elements in an apology -- acknowledgement and affect. Acknowledgement involves holding yourself accountable for upsetting your spouse, including a recognition of how your actions affected her. Accepting accountability for your actions and their result shows your spouse that you are brave enough to be open with her. Showing affect, or emotion, in an apology indicates that upsetting your spouse hurt you, too. Without emotion, an apology falls flat and is less likely to be accepted.

Talk to your spouse about what apologies work. This practice can occur after an argument or in your everyday life. If you are actively apologizing for something, give your spouse your apology and ask if your apology is adequate. This act can open the door for anger, but if done right, without anger or sarcasm, you show that you are willing to issue the best apology you can. Doing this activity without a surrounding issue can be as simple as using example apologies and gauging how your spouse feels about them. Remember the elements that help your spouse feel loved and frame your apology with them in the future.

References

About the Author

S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.

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