If you’ve ever had a fight, broken a promise, or hurt your spouse’s feelings, learning how to say sorry to your spouse is a must.
In fact, knowing how to say sorry to your husband or wife is an essential marriage and life skill, because let’s face it, we are human.
Today, you will discover 7 simple steps that will help you apologize to your spouse and two apology resources that will help you become better.
Let’s get started.
So during our first year of marriage we viewed saying sorry or apologizing to each other differently than we do now.
Neither one of us was willing to say sorry, which made things worse, and showed how selfish we were. We were caught in a power struggle waiting for the other to admit they were wrong first.
You probably have experienced it too.
Because in marriage, you will eventually have a fight or a heated argument with your spouse, which can make you feel awful.
When you are wrong, accept and admit your mistakes. You will become a better person, and spouse because of it. Work on yourself to become a better spouse, so you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.Work on yourself to become a better spouse, so you don't repeat the same mistakes again.Click To Tweet
That being said, if you are wondering whether to say sorry or not to your spouse, the answer is yes, just say it.
You don’t necessarily have to be the one in the “wrong” to apologize.
Sometimes there is no right and wrong.
But simply a difference of opinion.
Saying sorry was admitting I was the one in the wrong and I took a hit to my pride while expecting an apology back. When I didn’t get one, it made me angry because I felt we should both apologize and move on.
Now, saying sorry is part of our marriage, in a different way, and is probably said more frequently with all the added stress of parenthood, being self-employed and health issues.
It’s not as hard to say anymore because I’m looking at just myself and not expecting anything back.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you” and “I’m sorry I should have been more patient,” are typically things I apologize for. For me, it’s a verbal recognition that I messed up, but I know Marcus doesn’t deserve to be spoken to or treated that way so I will try better next time.
And you know what? He apologizes and says sorry more frequently too. – Ashley
Saying sorry gets easier once you truly understand what it means…
To you and your spouse.
Isn’t it nice to hear that your spouse recognizes that he/she made a mistake and that they will try to do better next time? You want to treat your spouse the way you want to be treated, and this is one way to encourage that.
We are all imperfect humans and we will make a mistake here or there. So it’s important that when you make mistakes you own up to them. Grow from your mistakes and make an effort to become a better person and a better spouse.
It shouldn’t be a battle of pride and power struggles!
7 Steps to saying sorry to your wife or husband.
1. Admit you are wrong.
This step is the most important one of all. Admit you have a problem.
You see, until you accept and admit that you are wrong, your apology will not be sincere, meaningful, and genuine. Because it will come across in your facial expression and attitude.
So learn to accept your mistakes. Take responsibility for your actions.
2. Admit that you have hurt your spouse’s emotions.
We all feel hurt when the person we love does something wrong. So keep this thought in mind too.
Respect your spouse’s feelings.
Put yourself in their shoes. “I am sorry that I made you feel like I didn’t care enough about helping you and remembering to take out the trash, that was not my intention. I will take it out now.”
3. Let your spouse know how sorry you are.
Your apology must be honest and sincere, not something you just say to please your spouse. In addition, never use the word “but” in your apology as it conveys the message you aren’t genuinely sorry about what you did.
Also, be specific in your apology. Don’t try to mix it with other apologies. Focus on one issue and one apology at a time.
What’s more, use “I statements” when apologizing. For example, I am sorry for …. instead of sorry for … Words matter!
4. Be humble and ask your spouse to forgive you.
The best way to say sorry to your husband or wife is in person. Face to face.
Try not to write it, send a text or email. Even if you prefer writing an apology letter to your spouse. If you can’t verbalize it, look a little deeper and ask yourself, what is preventing you?
Is it because you don’t know how to communicate with your spouse without fighting? If so, then learn how to communicate with your spouse without fighting today.
Could it also be because you feel ashamed about what you did? Or are you too proud to apologize?
5. Forgive yourself.
Sometimes, after realizing the severity of the pain you caused your loved one, it may be difficult to forgive yourself.
Just as you must forgive your spouse, you have to show yourself that compassion.
Forgiving yourself will make you more confident so you can work on becoming a better spouse.
6. Create an action plan.
Show your spouse what you are going to do to prevent this mistake from happening again. Come up with a plan of action, or list of things, you will do so this mistake doesn’t happen again.
Write down the things you could have done better if you think that would help.
In the case of a missed payment for a bill, a great solution after your sincere apology will be to set up reminders in your calendar or phone.
Ideally, you want to create your action plan with your husband or wife. If you create the action plan alone, seek your spouse’s input and/or feedback.
By asking for your spouse’s opinion, he/she will see the effort you are making to become better. It also shows you value his/her opinion.Action speaks louder than words. So put your words into action. Click To Tweet
7. Practice your action plan.
Action speaks louder than words. So put your words into action. Commit to not repeating the same mistake or problem again.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Put in the effort required to make up for your mistakes. Change your behavior(s).
By becoming a better person, your spouse will see your progress. It also removes doubts and fears you will repeat the same mistake(s) again.
In other words, practicing your action plan is one way to reconnect with your spouse after a fight or argument.
Saying sorry is just the first step
When you tell your spouse you are sorry for something, it doesn’t make everything okay. It simply means you acknowledge that something isn’t right. And you have to follow it with an effort to do better next time.
You might repeat the same mistake(s) again, but ask yourself:
» Why am I hurting myself, and my spouse?
» Why can’t I stop doing this mistake?
» How can my wife or husband help me to stop repeating this same mistake(s).
» Do I need external help? For example, a therapist or counselor.
Asking yourself questions like these will help you to become a better spouse, and not repeat the same mistakes. You will also be able to seek the help you need to improve yourself.
[How strong is your marriage? Take the quiz.]
Your spouse also feels the pain.
In the early years of our marriage, I spent money we had not agreed upon. I invested it in buying an item I thought I was going to resell FAST to make a quick profit but did not happen.
Then the time came for us to use that money for something else and I had not sold the item yet.
Ashley asked me why I did not let her know, even though I had good intentions for investing the money. She was emotionally hurt and felt betrayed. It was an awful feeling for me, talk about financial infidelity!
And that could have ended our marriage because I had betrayed her trust, but we worked through it.
What really helped us get through this pain I had caused was sitting down with Ashley, and explaining to her why I invested the money on that item. In addition, I accepted that I had done something wrong by not speaking to her first about spending the extra money as things were incredibly tight and we agreed to speak about all purchases before they were made.
I also committed to not repeating it again. The commitment I made to Ashley and myself helped me to not repeat this mistake again. – Marcus
Now, go the extra mile.
You love your spouse right? So why not go the extra mile for him/her? Why not do everything you can so you don’t repeat the same mistake(s)?
You now know what to do, so go ahead and do it!
Show your spouse you love them through your actions.
With that said, below are 7 extra ways to say sorry to your spouse. We have used some of them in our marriage, and believe they will help you in your marriage too.
7 Complimentary ways to apologize to your spouse.
In addition to the 7 steps we mentioned earlier, use one of the following ways to go the extra mile with your apology.
⇒ Give your spouse a hug after sincerely admitting you are sorry.
Hand-holding and physical touch also helps you to reconnect.
Again be mindful of how your spouse feels. If they don’t want to be touched, give them their space, and respect them. Don’t force it.
⇒ Buy your spouse their favorite flowers (or if your wife is pregnant a pregnancy gift.)
AND remember to add a heartfelt note explaining your “I’m sorry” to it. This will help if your spouse’s love language is gift-giving.
⇒ Help your husband or wife with the house chores like washing the dishes when your favorite show is on.
Even better, do his/her share of the house chores. Again, this will help if your spouse’s love language is acts of service.
⇒ Say you are sorry and mean it.
Observe how your spouse feels. Give them some space if they ask for it.
⇒ Cook their favorite meal, and surprise them with it at mealtime.
⇒ Show your spouse you respect and appreciate him/her.
⇒ Pull your spouse aside and have the tough conversations.
Sit down when you are both calm and open to the conversation, so you can get to the root of what happened.
5 Things you should NOT do when apologizing.
a. Never use the word “but”.
For example, I am sorry for doing X but it was really not my fault.
Using words such as this, denounce ownership of whatever was done.
b. Don’t use excuses.
Pretty much trying to give wrong reasons for what you did. Don’t blame other people, alcohol, places, things, timing, etc.
You are an adult and an equal member of your marriage. Take personal responsibility for your actions, or inactions.
c. Don’t just say sorry for saying’s sake.
Sorry is not a magic word that undoes the harm after it is said.
Be sincere and make sure your future actions back up your words.
d. Never dismiss your spouse’s feelings whether it is about your actions or not.
Yes, we each must take responsibility for our emotions, but all feelings deserve respect as they are navigated through.
e. Don’t demand anything in return.
Apologizing is admitting you did or didn’t do something that has ultimately caused a negative impact on your spouse.
More importantly, it’s not the time for you to be demanding something in return, that could also be a form of manipulation.
3 Simple templates you can use to say sorry
Use the 2 templates below as your conversation starter.
I’m sorry for (say or express what you did) and how that made you feel. I was wrong, and will (say what you will do to make things better).
I’m sorry for (say or express what you did), and I take full responsibility. Next time, I will (say what you will do to make things better).
I am sorry I ((say or express what you did). Please forgive me. I will (say what you will do to make things better).
Apology resources to check out
To learn more about becoming better with your apologies, we highly recommend reading this apology book:
Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts by Dr. Harriet Lerner.
This book goes deeper into changing your mindset about apologies, how to give a heartfelt one, and so much more.Click here to get your copy.
You can watch Dr. Lerner’s 13-minute TedTalk video about apologies below.
Would you become a “weaker” spouse for saying sorry?
Being wrong, feeling embarrassed, admitting you are wrong and apologizing doesn’t mean you are a weak spouse.
Being “weak” is a stereotypical BS term for emotional intelligence.
Saying you are sorry means:
You are mature enough to admit your own mistakes, apologize for them wholeheartedly, and committing to not making the same mistakes again.
As such, the best thing you can do is to learn how to say sorry to your spouse in a sincere way. And then commit to not repeating the same mistake(s) again.
Sometimes, your spouse might not be ready to forgive you right away. Be patient.
Because depending on the situation and the severity of your wrongdoings, your spouse might still be disappointed, frustrated, or angry and it might take time.
As you just read, saying sorry is a sincere and genuine way of apologizing and working to become a better wife or husband.
So the next time you want to apologize to your spouse, just follow the 7 steps and everything we have shared with you today.
What are some of the ways you use to say sorry to your wife or husband?
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Image courtesy Bykst