These three words should never come out of your mouth if you are trying to apologize during an argument. Instead of helping resolve the issue, more issues will arise and your argument will spiral out of control and leave everyone more upset and hurt than before.
The other day I snapped at my husband. I knew I hurt his feelings and I knew he was upset, but so was I. I felt justified in my actions, but I didn't intend to hurt his feelings. I was torn up inside. I wanted to say sorry, but at the same time I wanted him to recognize that he was frustrating me. I was stuck in between pride and guilt.
Apologizing to someone is difficult, not just because you have to humble yourself, but also because your actions or words are probably justified. But honest apologies are essential to a happy marriage. Here are the keys to effectively apologize while still explaining what went on in your head:
1. Listen carefully
To move past this, you will need a turn to explain your side of the story, but for now, just listen. Make eye contact, ask questions and don't get distracted by being defensive. Though you might feel like you are being attacked, you are not. Lower your defenses so you can clearly understand what your spouse is saying to you. It's their turn to express how they feel.
2. Put yourself in their shoes
Try to imagine yourself in their place, in other words be empathetic. Your apology will be so much more sincere when you understand how your partner is feeling.
And mean it! Don't include those three nasty words: "I'm sorry, but..." That will only invalidate your apology, making it worthless. Occasionally you can supplement your apology with a hug or a brief touch on the shoulder or arm.
4. Ask them to listen
After you apologize, this is your chance to explain - not defend - what you did. This will help you avoid future arguments because you are starting to understand how each other thinks and feels. Ideally your partner will apologize to you too. Learn to accept the apology and forgive the other person.
Most arguments stem from misunderstandings or different viewpionts. By creating some sort of plan to avoid the same misunderstanding, your relationship (romantic or not) will be able to progress. Make sure you follow up with each other on any goals you set.
When two people turn an argument into an exercise of listening, understanding and changing, future problems become easier to work through.
When I was stuck between pride and guilt, my pride temporarily won until my husband apologized. He explained how he felt when I snapped. I humbled myself and apologized for my actions. What could have turned into an explosive argument was diffused quickly and easily. That's the power of an apology. It will make every relationship stronger. So next time you are tempted to say "I'm sorry, but..." stop yourself. Take a deep breath and listen.
Stacie Simpson is a FamilyShare staff writer. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.