How to Apologize to Your Partner After a Fight
Can “I’m sorry” fix anything? If you’re in a relationship, then you likely know firsthand that an apology is sometimes difficult to give and often even harder to accept. Despite the fact that apologies help acknowledge hurt feelings and preserve intimacy, they aren’t a magic cure-all for conflict. What’s more important than simply saying sorry is understanding why apologies matter, what they mean in a relationship and how to apologize to your partner appropriately.
It’s not easy to resolve conflict with anyone, especially when it can become so heated with a person you’re in love with. The closer you are, the easier it is to be hurt by something a partner does or says. You might often feel neglected, ignored or downright rejected when they don’t respond a certain way.
Getting in touch with your own emotions is important. Before apologizing, understand how you feel and what’s causing your lingering feelings. Many conflicts are drawn out and unresolved because people mask their emotions and focus on proving themselves “right” and their partner “wrong.”
Accept Your Partner’s Feelings
You don’t have to agree with your significant other to acknowledge, accept and respect them. During and after a fight, it’s critical to show empathy toward one another. People who struggle with attachment issues can find themselves riddled with anxiety and fear after an argument, wondering whether their partner will suddenly hate them or leave them. You may even relate to this feeling.
When you recognize your partner’s feelings as valid, it can become easier to apologize for the impact your actions or words might have had on them. This isn’t the same as taking accountability for your partner’s emotions; you nor they have to be responsible for one another’s feelings. But you do need to recognize and accept the fact that, whether intentional or not, you can hurt their feelings.
Don’t Ignore the Painful Moments
Many couples fall into a routine after fights that leave them feeling awkward and uncomfortable until things somehow go back to “normal.” There might be a mumbled “sorry,” but there is no authentic acknowledgement of one another’s feelings. When things are the most raw, that’s generally when people need each other the most. It can be beneficial to mutually step back and cool off during an argument, but you should never adopt the avoidance approach.
You can always go back to the original problem, but apologizing in the moment tells your partner, “I’m here and I care, even if we don’t see eye to eye right now.”
Managing Conflict With Couples Counseling
For many couples, conflict resolution is one of the greatest challenges in their relationship; even the most challenging. At Foundations Family Counseling, we specialize in helping people find greater harmony both within themselves and with each other. Contact us today to learn more about our services and to schedule an appointment with one of our Colorado couples therapists.