He Said, She Said: Apologies

by | Jul 2, 2013

Why is it so hard for some men to utter those healing words, “I\’m sorry”? And why is it so important to a woman to hear them?

It seems men and women look at apologies from different perspectives. Some women, when they apologize, feel really good that they\’ve made a positive effort to mend the relationship. Especially if they\’re afraid they\’ve hurt someone\’s feelings. They say they\’re sorry to repair the damage. When they do, they have a sense of satisfaction that they\’ve made the effort to make the relationship right again.

Men, on the other hand, often do not feel as good, and may even feel a loss of “face.” When men apologize, they sometimes feel they\’re admitting to being wrong, and consequently feel bad about themselves. They may even think their status in the relationship and their position of power is being threatened. They don\’t feel better when they apologize, they feel worse. It\’s a big contrast to women who feel good when they apologize.

Women need to remember that men think differently about saying they\’re sorry, and that it costs men much more to say it than women. And men need to remember how important it is to women as a way of reconnecting and healing the relationship. But the apology has to be authentic.

The Three R\’s of a Good Apology

The trick is that the apology—whether by a man or a woman—needs to be heartfelt. It\’s not enough to give lip service because you want to be back in your partner\’s good graces. Your partner will sense the insincerity and you\’ll run the risk of making the situation worse. So when you apologize, think of the three R\’s:

Responsibility. When you apologize, the first thing you need to do is to take responsibility for your action. If you said something that hurt your partner, even if you didn\’t mean to, own up to it. Understand, from your partner\’s point of view, why those words were hurtful. You may even express that you had no idea that they hurt, and you want to understand the reason why they caused distress.

Remorse. The next step in a heartfelt apology is sincere remorse. Express how bad you feel that your words caused your partner pain, and that you did not do it deliberately—but only if it\’s true. If you did try to inflict pain through your words, try to understand why you did it.

Repentance. It\’s not always easy to change your ways, especially if you hurt your partner unintentionally. But it\’s important to make a conscious effort not to repeat the misstep if you value your relationship. Nothing rings more hollow than an apology for the same thing over and over.

Apologies are necessary because your partner must know that your relationship is more important to you than your status, power or your need to appear right. Every couple needs to understand the importance of a sincere apology as the glue to a successful relationship.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.

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