Questions for Couples Who Never Apologize
If you’re in a relationship and can’t ever seem to apologize, or have a partner who won’t, there are some questions for couples that you can explore to get to the root of the issue.
It can be incredibly difficult to apologize if you’ve done something wrong, and sometimes it can feel like a sign of weakness. These questions for couples who never apologize should help you and your partner navigate the complications around apologizing and help you open up more loving communication.
Why Is There Tension Around Apologizing?
This is one of the most important questions for couples who struggle to apologize. Until the “why” is addressed, it can be very difficult to move forward.
Open communication around how we hurt one another takes a lot of vulnerability, humility and bravery. It means putting aside pride, being open minded and letting go of being “right”.
So ask yourself: why can’t I apologize? Were you discouraged from apologizing as a kid? Did you grow up in a household that didn’t value apologies? Do you feel shame and weakness around admitting you’re wrong?
As a couple or as individuals, it can be beneficial to consult a therapist to help unravel what is blocking you from moving forward in a more open, communicative and humble way as a couple.
In the meantime, there are many questions for couples struggling with apologies that can get the conversation going.
Can you acknowledge your partner’s positive traits?
When you are seeking an apology, you can’t just demand one! So, start by acknowledging the positive traits of your partner.
When you are not in the heat of an argument, and want to broach the subject of deserving an apology, sit down with your partner and begin the conversation with the things you value most about them.
Explain why you are grateful for their partnership: perhaps they are supportive of your career, or are incredibly affectionate, or are a wonderful parent. Tell them you love them.
This opens the conversation from a place of love and gratitude rather than blame and hurt. If your partner tends to become defensive in disagreements, this can help them take their guard down. It signals that the conversation isn’t about criticizing them or blaming them for everything bad in the relationship.
Can You Hold Each Other Accountable?
The conversation can get a little more delicate at this point. It will require you to be humble and open, and accept responsibility for your half of the problem. Accountability for the way you respond to your partner, and accountability for telling them how you truly feel.
Keep the conversation about how their actions (or inactions) make you feel: don’t attach intent to their actions. Something like “When you do X I feel Y” or “When you said X it made me feel like I’m Y”.
It isn’t constructive to attach assumptions or interpret their intentions. Saying things like “You said that to make me feel stupid” comes from a place of blame, whereas “When you said that, it made me feel like my intelligence is undervalued” keeps the focus on your reaction.
A lot of times, this is when someone will apologize. It surely wasn’t their intent to make you feel that way, and they may explain what their intentions were.
If you are the person who has trouble apologizing, ask yourself: how can I speak to my partner in a way that makes my intentions clear without belittling them? Can I own my 50% and be humble enough to apologize for hurting their feelings or letting them down?
Can You Conclude With An Apology?
If for some reason you have trouble saying “I’m sorry”, there are ways to apologize with different language.
By acknowledging that what you did was hurtful or wrong and stating why it was hurtful or wrong will be a great foundation for forgiveness. Acknowledging the “why” informs your partner that you understand where they are coming from and will be able to recognize how to fix it.
If you are the one seeking an apology, conclude with “what comes up for you when I say this?” Your partner may need time to process what you have told them. After all, they may not have been aware that they even hurt you!
This question opens the floor for them to comment on their feelings, clarify their intentions and acknowledge that they have hurt you.
There is a possibility that they will become defensive or feel embarrassed. This is not unexpected, and they may just need time to go and figure out what they are feeling and what they want to do.
When Is It Time To Let Go?
Is it ever okay to let go without an apology? Yes! If your partner has shown changes in their behavior, or it doesn’t matter to you, or they’ve made it up to you in other ways this can be fine.
It isn’t okay if they continuously accuse you of “making it up” or continue the hurtful behaviors.
Gaslighting and belittling are not okay, and if they are unwilling to change or communicate, it may be time to move forward without them.
Forgiveness is a personal choice, and you are never obligated to forgive someone for a major betrayal or breach of trust. Forgiveness does however help you minimize the hurt and grow from the experience, and keeps you from wallowing in bitterness and resentment.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, and apologizing isn’t easy either! If this is a recurring issue for you, consider these questions for couples who can’t apologize and consult with a therapist to help you move forward- ideally together!
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