Susie and Otto
Love and Relationships Advice
|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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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