Have you done something to hurt your guy? Intentionally or unintentionally. Either way, is he really hurt? Do you want to say I’m sorry and save your relationship? Have you been trying to apologize, to make him see things from your perspective, to get him to understand your intentions? All to no avail? Hope is not lost. There are 3 ways to apologize that will help you save your relationship. Before we begin it is essential that you understand WHAT you have to apologize for. You did something that caused someone pain. And THAT is what you have to apologize for. Causing that person pain. Not for what you did to cause the pain.
I have a client whose wife showed up 30 minutes late on a night where she swore, she would be home on time. They were supposed to go out with friends of his from out of town. She had tried to get home but got caught up in a work crisis. Should she need to say I’m sorry? I mean, she was late because of work. She had no control over that. Of course, she needs to apologize! Why? Not because she was kept late at work but because she HURT HIM by not getting home when she said that she would. Do you see the difference? The slight is that she caused him pain. Whatever she did to cause that pain is irrelevant. The pain is what you are apologizing for. Get it?. Now that you do, here are 3 ways to say “I’m sorry’ and save your relationship.
Sentence #1 – ‘I am sorry that I hurt you.’
This is the perfect first line of any apology. You are acknowledging that you have caused someone pain. They know that you know that you hurt them and by stating it clearly you can, and will, immediately deflate your loved one’s anger. The most important part of this sentence is that it ends after the YOU and that it doesn’t continue on with a BUT. An explanation of why you were late, and why you aren’t at fault, will completely invalidate the first part of the sentence. Completely.
Again, what you are apologizing for is that you hurt someone. How you did so is irrelevant in this first part of the apology. So, accept it and say I’m sorry for the hurt you have caused.
#2 – ‘How can I prevent it from happening again?’
This second sentence is very important because it allows the person you hurt to take some ownership for how to prevent it from happening again. In the case of my client, after he calmed down when he realized that she knew how much he had hurt her, he thought about what could be done differently in the future to prevent her from causing him pain. He suggested that next time she knew she was going to be late she calls him so that he could change their reservations. He would also know that she knew she was late and that she was sensitive to the situation. Armed with this knowledge my client’s partner had the tools she needed to stop herself from hurting him in the future when she was going to be late. It was up to her know when to use those tools and to do so.
#3 – ‘What can I do to make it up to you?’
This one is a fun one. Amends. So, my client’s partner had acknowledged that she had hurt him and did not tried to justify her behavior. Now she wanted to know what she could do to make it up to him…. Once again, my client, the hurt party, was in a position of control. Not a dominating sort of control but in control of how the outcome of the situation could play out. By being in this kind of control my client was given the opportunity to express what he needed to move past this hurt. His partner didn’t have to guess, which is good because because people don’t always guess well.
My client suggested that he go out for a quick beer with his friends and that they all get together in the morning for breakfast. He just wanted some time with his friends but he also wanted them to meet her. This plan satisfied both of those needs. And he was happy. Do you see now how the 3 ways to say ‘I’m sorry’ will save your relationship? How recognizing that you have hurt someone and making amends is the key to making it happen?
Again, the key to the perfect apology is recognizing that you are apologizing for the hurt that you caused and not the behavior that caused it. You hurt someone and that is what you need to apologize for, no matter how much you believe that it couldn’t have been avoided or that you weren’t at fault. So, go ahead. Apologize. Mean it. Move forward together in a meaningful way.
It just might change your life. Try it. You will see.