The art of the apology is a beautiful thing.

But simply saying I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, is not one of the actions.

There are at least 4 key actions to an actual apology.  Do this and you might begin to repair you partner’s hurt heart.


The key moments in a relationship can happen on a microscopic level.  Ever been totally blindsided about what your partner is upset about?

Frequently we feel somewhat blameless or that we’ve done nothing really wrong.

Think you have nothing to apologize for.  Just do a double check.  In case you do need a reminder of something as we talk about the four key actions.


How Have I Hurt You Let Me Count The Ways

Sometimes we have a hard time seeing just how we may have offended our partner or hurt them.  Here is an inventory of ways we can hurt our partner without even realizing it.  Once you know then you can begin to make amends.

Read over the sheet below to help you see if you are loving as sweetly as you could.

To LOVE (mark yes if you get all three yes below, if not sorry, mark No)
    1. Do you show an act of affections daily to your partner?
    2. Do you work to love them in the way THEY like to be loved (romance, kissing, or sex)
    3. Do you willing participate in things THEY think are important        yes/ no
To HONOR (mark yes if you get all three.  If not mark NO)
  1. Do you show words of admiration about your spouse accomplishments or qualities to them or others?
  2. Do you stop or interrupt others who want to “trash” or criticize your partner?
  3. Do You place Value on their needs, wants, values, and dreams                    yes/no
To CHERISH (if yes to all three mark yes)
  1. Do you cooperate on working on your marriage or relationship?
  2. Do you willingly participate in “we need to talk” times?
  3. Do you put down what you are doing to listen or spend times with your partner when they wish it?                                                                                                     yes/no
This is your final step
  • If you marked yes to 8-9 that is amazing keep it up
  • If you marked yes to 5 or more you are getting there
  • If you marked yes to 4 or less it’s time to make amends
  • But first find the SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT sheet for a proper apology.    


Now You Know Where to Begin Discussing Hurts and Offenses, Check in With Your Partner and Find Out

Now armed with a few ideas you are ready for our 4 key actions.

It’s easy if you have had major injuries such as an affair, texting, or some sort of other secrecy. Well, not easy in the sense of getting through it, but easy to identify that this is a repair moment in the relationship.

What about the day to day. What about living with one another and trying to navigate the ins and outs of a relationship.

Why would it be important to talk about repair if in fact, none of the really big stuff above has happened in your relationship.

Well you may think that you know what repairs mean.  You may think it means saying sorry.   In fact that’s a really nice pat on the head at best, but not an official Repair.   It’s  Not an actual apology.

Actually the “Little stuff “is really big deal.  Over and over again the “little stuff” can really sour a relationship if it’s not tended to.

Understanding how we have hurt our partner might be easier if we talk about hurt feelings. 

The clue that hurt feelings provide are just that, a clue that someone has taken a hit. Something we’ve done, something we didn’t do or didn’t say has hit a nerve with our partner. Typically this has to do with whether they feel wanted, accepted,  and connected to you.  This can be way more subtle than we would guess as shown in the checklist.

Here are some of the day-to-day subtle ways we can hurt our partner.

  • Brushing off their protests or indicators that they have been hurt.
  • Listening for just a moment, departing the conversation before they can really say how they feel.
  • Saying Sorry, too soon without the other steps you are about to learn.
  • Defending your actions by criticizing their actions.

Now you may agree that you’ve done some of those things.  However you might be highly offended to think that those would cause an injury. Is that really something which you would need to make a repair?

Oh come on, why can’t they just get over it.   They know I didn’t mean it.

Well you or I might never feel injured by such a thing.  Thinking that way won’t help. Just like fingerprints, eye color and DNA, what effects each of us is different and VALID. Telling someone it’s not such a big deal is not gonna help them.  In fact it will makes things worse.

And here’s why.

You and I are not in charge of what hurts another person’s feelings or what helps them feel insecure, lost or lonely. That person, and only that person has the ability to say what hurts them.

Now if we want to argue with them, for sure we will be in trouble because you never can convince someone that they’re not hurt if they are.

So our only hope of  healing with our partner is to truly listen and when required offer an Actual Apology.  Having a happy, healthy relationship means to work on building the ritual and the practice of apology inside of the relationship.

The faster we get to it the quicker we can go on together, connected and whole.

What is an Actual Apology

I’m sorry won’t really hold any weight. They didn’t when you were little and you were forced to say them to a brother or sister and they don’t always have the effect you hope.

Say It Like You Mean It

Quite regularly, in long term relationships, we hurt one another.  We don’t always mean to; however, the wear and tear of sloppy or thoughtless actions can take their toll.  Perhaps your partner has told you where you have hurt them.   If not the first part of this exercise is to take the results of your HOW HAVE I HURT YOU LET ME COUNT THE WAYS check sheet and check in with your partner using the following outline, then proceed on to the second part for a TRUE APOLOGY in SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT which follows.  The following guide will quickly help you turn your partners hurts into opportunities to make amends and heal their feelings.

We don’t just need our partner to hear us when we talk, we need to feel like you “GET ME”.   Research says most of us just want to feel listened to.

Try This:   From your list above pick a number where you feel you have not been up to par with your partner, check it out with them

Ask to speak to them and begin

  • I want you to know I care.
  • I Fear/ I Know I Have Done….
  • This [insert number](fill these in from HOW Have I Hurt You…)
  • And It Has Hurt You.  
  • May I Talk With You About IT?  

Now It is time to Truly Listen and tell them how Their Feelings Make Sense.

Read here for some quick pointers on actually listening.

listen in

Remember the key actions in the apology are to convey you care, that their feelings make sense to you , acknowledge you hurt them,share how you feel when you think of hurting them like that, and ask to make amends for the hurt you have caused.




And There You Have It:  The Art of A True Apology

Put your Actual Apology into a regular process and you will have a wonderful new ritual for making amends and repairing the little and the not so little hurts in a relationship.

Here’s to keeping your relationships strong in good times and in ……not so good times.  Life happens and its what we do with it that makes us either a stronger couple or derails us.


Up Next:  Tried Your Apologies, again and again and you don’t feel they are working or being accepted.     Look for Next Weeks Blog     The Journey To Forgiveness

What have been some tricky things you have tried to apologize for and what has happened.   Send me a quick reply.  I am curious to know where it gets hard for you.

 What have been some tricky things you have tried to apologize for and what has happened.   Send me a quick reply.  I am curious to know where it gets hard for you.



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