We know from the research of Dr. John and Julie Gottman that people in satisfying long-term relationships are good at repairing their conflicts. This means that after an argument the conflict is resolved enough so that resentment isn’t left mounting and the couple is able to move on and have fun together.
Apologizing is not synonymous with acting like a doormat. It is important to bring up issues that are problematic before they become monumental. Likewise it is important to be able to authentically admit when you are wrong, because, if you are (sometimes). The secret to doing this effectively is to keep the conversations separated.
For example, “I’m sorry I let the cat out, but I had an armful of groceries and you didn’t so much as lift a finger to help.” is not as advisable as…”I’m sorry I let the cat out.” I tell my clients I think periods are sometimes the best marital interventions out there. At a later point (AFTER) you have given your partner a chance to forgive you, you might say something like “It’s really frustrating to try to unlock the door with a handful of groceries, I’d love it if we could unload the car together next time. Thanks Babe.” Honor the punctuated period and move on.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
- I really messed up
- I was wrong
- You were right
- I’m an idiot
- You deserve better than that
- Wish I could go back in time
- I know actions speak louder than words, thanks for giving me a second chance
- I made a mistake
- I really messed up
- I don’t know what the heck I was thinking
- I can really be a knucklehead sometimes
- I will always regret that choice
- I ‘d feel the same way if I were you
- You’re better than me at this kind of thing
- I did it again, thanks for not giving up on me
- My bad
- I know there’s nothing I can say to undo this
- Of course you’re mad at me, who wouldn’t be?
- I wish I could delete those words
- Thanks for being so patient with me
- I know saying sorry isn’t enough
- The words “I’m Sorry” aren’t strong enough for what I’m trying to say
- What would you like me to do differently?
- Where did I go wrong?
- Help me understand how I hurt you
- It was not my intention to hurt you, but I see that I did
- I can be a total jerk sometimes
- Thank you for letting me know where I went wrong
- Let me try again
- I get it
- You matter so much more to me than this
- You are my whole world, the last thing I meant was
- Please forgive me
- Please accept my apology
We’d love to hear from you! We welcome comments and please add to the list!