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Communication Tips for Apologizing After a "Bad" Argument
By Susie and Otto Collins

Have you ever stepped over a line in your relationship and wanted to make up for what happened?

Have you ever had someone apologize to you, but you could tell it was not a sincere apology?

Have you ever truly wanted to make amends for upset with your partner but didn't know how to begin?

We've all been there.

We've probably all been in a position where we've hurt someone we care about and want to make amends and start re-connecting. And we've all probably been in a position in which we've been hurt by another person and the apology we were given just didn't seem heart-felt.

When you have an argument, disagreement or some other point of conflict with your partner, what you might want most of all is to put whatever happened behind you and begin to move closer together again.

And during an argument, particularly a "bad" one, it could very well be that you were in both positions-- the one who feels hurt by your partner and the one who said or did things that caused pain.

Making an apology needs to be very mindful and conscious in order for you and your mate to be able to truly let go of whatever happened and turn toward one another and reconnect.

Jackie has a temper. She is the first one to admit it too. She knows that when her buttons have been pushed, those around her better watch out!

True, she often regrets the harsh words she says when she is angry. But she also often feels justified in what she says.

Jackie's husband, Aaron, has learned to steer clear of Jackie for awhile after he's done something he thinks might make her mad. He has been on the receiving end of more than one of her tirades and does not enjoy it.

But when Jackie ripped into Aaron a couple of days ago about a decision he made regarding their daughter, Aaron was not only surprised but also indignant. Aaron resents Jackie judging him so unfairly when he was merely doing his best to parent.

It was a difficult situation and he doesn't think Jackie would have made that different a decision herself!

Aaron has been avoiding Jackie since her outburst of a couple of days ago. He knows that at some point they need to talk, but at this moment he can't think of anything nice to say.

Shift within yourself before making an apology.
If you feel like you need to make an apology after an argument or other disconnection between you and your mate, take a little bit of time to go within first.

Sometimes when there is apparent distance in a relationship, people will say or do things that they aren't genuinely feeling just to bridge that disconnection and make things "ok" again. See if you can make a shift within yourself before you take any action at all.

Making a shift might mean that you re-affirm to yourself what is most important to you about this situation. It could be that you were so caught up in being “right,” you lost sight of how vital coming together with your partner to face a difficult situation is.

Jackie doesn't like to be so mean and angry with Aaron. In the days after her big blow-up, Jackie has started to see how righteous she gets-- especially when it comes to their kids. She acknowledges that she doesn't often give Aaron credit for doing a great job as a father.

Now Jackie is feeling regret about the argument even as she is still resistant to admitting her over-reaction.

When you think about making an apology, don't take more or less than your share of responsibility for what happened. You can express how difficult it is for you to say

"I'm sorry," as you let your partner know that you regret what happened. In fact, you can apologize and own up to your habits-- even those that involve needing to be right.

Be honest. This will let your mate know that your apology is coming from the heart.

Look for ways to re-connect.
Jackie is able to apologize to Aaron for her part in their recent argument. She admits to her need to be right when it comes to parenting and she acknowledges that she doesn't often give Aaron respect for the parenting he does.

Jackie says to him, "I am sorry that I was so hard on you about the decision you made about our daughter. This is hard for me to say because I realize how invested I am in being the parent who has it together and is right. The way you chose to handle the situation was different than what I'd do but I now
see that it wasn't necessarily the wrong way to go about it."

After you apologize from the heart, talk with your partner about how the two of you can re-connect. There might be specific actions your partner would like. There could also be things you would like to do.

Follow through on what you two decide and keep checking in with one another.

As difficult as apologies can be, they are essential to having a close relationship. Find the clarity and courage within yourself to give and receive apologies with an open heart.


Susie and Otto Collins are Relationship Coaches and authors who help people create lives that are filled with more passion, love and connection.

To find out more about creating more trust in your relationship, visit

For more communication tips to help you through difficult times, check out our new book, Magic Relationship Words: 101 Words, Phrases and Sentence-Starters to Help You Say It Right Every Time


Susie and Otto Collins
P.O. Box 14544
Columbus, Ohio 43214
(614) 459-8121


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