How to Say ‘Sorry’ Effectively to Your Partner
Giving or receiving an effective and sincere apology can assist in diffusing an unpleasant situation or misunderstanding within your relationship. Your partner is an individual who will have different needs and methods of communication. As your relationship develops you can learn more about your partner’s style of communication and how to say ‘sorry’ effectively to them.
Using the word “sorry”
Some people do not like to say ‘sorry’ or cannot see a need to use the word. On the other side of the coin other people need to hear it in order to move forward. If you have a partner that needs to hear the word ‘sorry’ it is important to try and use the word in the appropriate context of your apology. For example, saying “I am sorry that you feel that way” may not necessarily be interpreted as you feeling sorry that your behaviour has had a negative impact on your partner.
To communicate a sincere apology, try using these examples –
- “I am sorry for my actions”
- “I am sorry that my behaviour has hurt you”
Reflect your partner’s feelings
When an apology has not been effectively communicated, it can feel like you are both on a merry-go-round talking about the same situation over and over again, not making any progress or moving forward. Usually this merry-go-round occurs because one or both parties feel like they are not being understood or heard.
By reflecting your partner’s feelings it can help your partner to feel like they have been heard and that you are trying to understand the emotions and feelings that they are currently experiencing.
To reflect a person’s feelings, try using these examples –
- “I am hearing that you feel upset and disappointed because of my actions”
- “I can see that my actions have hurt you deeply”
Ask what your partner needs you to do now
Rather than focusing on the past incident and arguing about the details of the negative experience, it can be helpful to ask your partner what it is they need you to do or say. Ask if there is something that you can do to improve the situation immediately, even if only slightly. This will help to show your partner that you have recognised that you have caused them hurt and that you want to try to make amends.
Gifts, flowers and gestures
It is not uncommon for people to give their partners gifts or flowers as part of an apology. It is important to remember that everyone will react differently to these gestures when given as part of an apology. Even though the gesture may be coming from good intentions for reconciliation, there is a chance that it may be associated with a negative feeling or experience and a gesture of flowers may end up in a vase or in the bin. Take note of how your partner reacts to these gestures whether positive or negative and use this knowledge for future reference.
As humans our non-verbal signals and cues make up a large proportion of our communication. Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice, eye contact, body language and facial expression. People can generally tell when a person is or is not being sincere in what they say. This is because the facial expression or tone of voice may not be congruent to what the person is saying. By having empathy or thinking about how it might feel if the shoe was on the other foot, it may help you to express that you are sincere in your apology to your loved one.
It is never a pleasant experience when you are in conflict and need to apologise to your partner therefore, try to use the experience as a learning tool. Learning to say sorry effectively to your partner can assist you in resolving conflict effectively and reaching peace and understanding within your relationship. It is well worth investing the time to understand how your partner is feeling and what needs to take place in order for your relationship to move forward to a happier and healthier place.
To discuss your situation or find out more about relationship counselling or individual counselling services in Perth, please contact us.