A great relationship is not one without disagreements; it is one where those involved handle their issues maturely. The resolution style for every relationship differs. For some, you may never talk about it again. You just pick up another topic a few minutes later and it ends there. For some others, you both need to sit and trash the issue thoroughly, to reach reasonable, considerate and balanced conclusions. And for a lot others I have seen, it just signals the beginning of the end, or the outright end of the relationship! In all of these, one thing is essential in handling disagreements, hurt and arguments – making an apology when you are wrong.
Making an apology when you are wrong can be a really hard thing to do. It can sometimes feel like a dent on your ego, other times it may just feel like you should be the one receiving an apology. But all the same, it is a great thing to know when to make an apology and do it without thinking twice.
Resolution is one of the biggest pillars of a relationship, and one foolproof way to achieve a successful resolution is to apologize the right way. An old Yoruba saying translates: “apology has a gender”, so the way you say or do it determines which applies. You would agree that even the tone of “sorry” and “I’m sorry” are different. In order to have an absolute resolution, both parties have parts to play, and in the end, it reveals the level of respect and commitment involved in the relationship.
Here are some suggestions for making an apology when you are wrong in a relationship:
When you offend the one you love, be sorry indeed.
Don’t apologize because your partner asked for it. Be sorry because you truly are. And let that reflect in your words, actions, gesticulations, explanations etc. Anybody can hurt another; we are humans not ghosts. So when that happens, apologize genuinely and let peace find its way back to your relationship.
Give explanations not excuses.
Don’t be deceived by the fact that they both start with “ex”. Many people mix these two up and they end up fuelling the conflict. Explanations will make your partner understand why you did what you did but excuses will make him/her feel you are trying to play smart. Sometimes it’s a very thin line between these two but explanations prove you didn’t mean to hurt your partner. And that’s a step closer to a resolution while excuses give steps away from it.
Choose your words carefully.
When you apologize, don’t say “Sorry IF I have offended you!” IF? For heaven’s sake, being ambiguous when you apologize can be annoying. What is IF I have offended you? Of course you have offended me, and that’s why I am angry, so be humble enough to admit that you are wrong and be sorry. Before you apologize, know the specifics of what you have done wrong. If you do not know, how will you not do it again? Choosing the right words can really be magical. You should rather say something like “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to and it won’t happen again.” And that is after you can spot on what you have done wrong.
Don’t bother to apologize, if you will do offence again. You should rather let the other person understand why you can’t but do it. Apology means “I did it because I didn’t know it would hurt you but I won’t do it again, because I don’t ever want to hurt you. Work on yourself and help the relationship. Deliberately avoiding things that can hurt your partner is a sure proof that you genuinely love and want to be with him/her.
When you hurt your partner, try to be empathetic; put yourself in their shoes. Your partner wants to know you feel the pain you made them go through and it’s important you show them you understand. Instead of just saying sorry, you should say you understand that your actions have caused him/her so much pain and you are truly sorry. Your partner wants to know you understand the pain they went through because if you truly understand, you would be sincerely sorry and won’t want them to go through that again.
You can’t be punching your phone while apologizing, or be watching football while trying to show remorse for a wrong you did. Keep eye contacts with your partner, hold his/her hand if you have to. Buy a gift the next day and tell him/her you are not trying to buy his/her forgiveness, you are just trying to show how truly sorry you are. Even a heart of stone would melt by that. Always let your partner know you regret hurting him/her, and it wasn’t intentional and you would do anything to make it up i.e. making sure it never happens again. Everyone wants to be reassured of a partner’s love and commitment.
While genuine apology is required from the one that has erred, true forgiveness is also expected from the other – it is the combination of these two that meets the assurance needed to hold your relationship together. Apologizing the right way clears all doubts and brings true forgiveness.
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