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When "I'm Sorry" Just Isn't Good Enough: 4 Steps to Getting Forgiveness From Your Partner

You did something you said you wouldn't do, you didn't do something you said you would do, or you just flat out hurt your spouse's feelings and now you have to talk about it. Well many times, a simple "I'm sorry" just ain't gonna cut it. And then you're still in trouble. Below are four easy (well, mostly easy) steps that you can take to get out of the doghouse with the one you love.

1. Listen to your partner's concerns and feelings. Listening is one of the most powerful tools in your relationship toolkit. Really. Let your mate talk about anything related to the behavior in question and pay attention to everything your mate is saying. Try to understand where your partner is coming from. Put yourself in his or her shoes and begin to recognize how your actions impacted your partner. Let your partner elaborate as much as he or she wants and acknowledge his or her feelings. You can ask questions if you need clarification. But be careful, make sure that you phrase your questions so that they imply that you actually want to understand your partner, not as if you are trying to discredit your partner's emotions or point of view.

2. Admit your faults. Take responsibility for your actions, even if you think that your partner is wrong, exaggerating, or out-of-line in his or her accusations. The fact of the matter is that even if your intentions were not to purposely hurt your mate, you did. There was some miscommunication between what you meant to do or say and how your mate perceived what you did or said. In fact, miscommunication is one of the leading causes of conflict in relationships. So, if you hurt your partner, recognize that. You can still say that it wasn't your intention to upset him or her, but it's important to take ownership for how your partner is feeling.

3. Offer up a plan. Apologies are rather useless if you don't plan to change your behavior. And many times, the plan is clear- "Okay, I won't call you my little pudgy-wudgy anymore." But other times, the plan is not as clear. This is where the two of you need to work together to come up with a solution to this problem. You could ask your partner, "How can I fix this?" or "I really don't want you to be sad/angry with me anymore. What can I do?" Again, you need to listen to what your mate says and then decide what you are willing and able to do. And if the plan is to "not do _____" ever again or less often, think of a positive, more desirable behavior to put in it's place. Ending bad habits is so much easier when you replace it with a good habit. However you decide to do it, making a clear plan for the future is an excellent way to get through this tough time with your partner.

4. Don't do it again. This seems like a no-brainer, but I can't tell you how many times Hus or I will say that we're sorry about something and then go ahead and do the "offensive act" again; sometimes only days later. It's terrible, actually. If you make a plan to not do something and then you do it again, what kind of message does that send to your mate? I'll tell you. It says that you wee less-than-sincere in your original apology. It says that you don't have enough respect for the future plan your both made together. And it says that you do not value your relationship enough to stop doing whatever it is that hurt your partner in the first place. To put it another way (as if I haven't done that enough already), if you do it again, it makes it very difficult for your partner to forgive you and it may even make it difficult for your partner to stay with you.



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