It's inevitable that we'll wrong someone at some point. We'll say the wrong thing, react with anger, or hurt someone's feelings.
When it happens, how we handle it matters.
The best way is with an apology.
A heartfelt apology can go a long way toward restoring the relationship. Unfortunately, many times apologies are muddled by one word: but.
When apologizing, it's important to allow the apology to stand alone.
"I'm sorry" should be the full statement. It shouldn't be "I'm sorry, but..."
When it's followed by the word "but" the apology is diminished. Adding "but" adds an excuse or tries to place blame elsewhere. Instead of adding "but," just take full responsibility. Be humble enough to simply say, "I'm sorry."
When I was younger, I was not big on apologies (unless, of course, the apology came from someone else). I rarely thought I was wrong about anything, and an apology would somehow equal defeat. Unfortunately, my relationships suffered as a result.
The older I got, the more I realized the need to admit wrongdoing. This became especially apparent once I was married. I realized that an apology was not so much a symbol of defeat as a way to restore a relationship. If I have hurt someone in some way, I need to apologize. An apology does not necessarily mean that I "lose" something; rather, I gain something.
By apologizing, I gain restoration of a relationship.
Do you find it difficult to apologize?
It isn't always easy to apologize. We're prideful people, and it's tough to admit when we're wrong. Remember Fonzie on Happy Days? Even he found it tough to admit when he was wrong.
It was funny for Fonzie, but if we want strong relationships, we have to be willing to admit our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. This is especially true in marriage.
Your spouse is your greatest ally on this planet, so keeping that relationship strong is vital. If anything causes strife in marriage, it is worth resolving as quickly as possible. An apology is the way to do just that.
Admittedly, I am not always right. It kind of hurts just saying that. But, it's true. No one is right all the time. We all screw stuff up. We hurt people's feelings. We say things we shouldn't. When we do, we need to apologize.
Here's how to apologize to your spouse in the most effective way:
1. Swallow your pride. Pride is ugly, and it will cause you to be stubborn and full of yourself. Pride will tell you that you are right and don't need to apologize. Recognize and banish those thoughts and tendencies. Marriage is a union of two people who have become a team. There is no room for strife in that team. When you mess up, be quick to admit it, and throw your pride to the wayside. Approach your spouse with humility, and don't make excuses for yourself.
2. Admit your wrongdoing. Don't be Fonzie. Be straightforward and state exactly what you did wrong. Say it out loud in detail. Your spouse needs to know that you fully understand what you are apologizing for.
3. Say, "I'm sorry." Actually say the words. Telling your spouse "I'm sorry" signals that you feel regret for your actions or words. Even if you believe you are right in the situation, you can at least apologize for hurting your spouse's feelings or for arguing.
4. Express a plan to fix the situation. Sometimes you'll need to take steps to rectify the situation. Other times you'll need to share a plan to make sure your wrongdoing will not occur again. Either way, verbalize your intentions so your spouse knows you're serious and can see how you will change.
5. Be patient. Your spouse may not accept your apology immediately. While it's important for both spouses to show grace and give the benefit of the doubt, understand that it may be difficult for your spouse to do that right away. Don't explode if your spouse needs some time or is angry. Give your spouse the time and space they need to work through your apology.
We all make mistakes and do things we wish we hadn't. We need to get good at apologizing if we want our marriages to remain strong. Humility and willingness to rectify a bad situation will go a long way toward restoring your relationships.