I sometimes hear from wives who are gearing up to make a last ditch effort to save their marriages. Many times, they are looking for the perfect magical words and phrases to use to tell their husband how sorry they are and to reassure him that things are going to change. Sometimes, they even ask me for help in writing a letter. I think that they probably intuitively know that they aren’t going to get very many chances at this because, since things have already deteriorated so much, their husband is no longer listening intently to them. Not only that, but he’s likely to take anything that they say with a grain of salt at this point.
And it’s for these reasons that the wife in this situation can be at a disadvantage. It’s common for her to feel as though she has to say something really attention getting or make over the top promises that can’t possibly be lasting. So, she’s set up to say or do something that’s going to make her be perceived any more negatively than she already is.
From my own experience and observation, I believe that there are very appropriate ways to say you’re sorry when you’re marriage is in real trouble. But, your actions are every bit as important as your words and many people forget that. I will discuss this in depth in the following article.
Be Careful That Your Husband Doesn’t Think You’re Sorry Only Because The Marriage Is In Trouble: I recently had a wife in this situation who wanted for me to listen to the scrip that she’d prepared. Her marriage was failing, at least in her mind, because she had taken her husband for granted and had treated him relatively badly over the past year. As she put it, she’d been “coasting” and neglecting him and now he was quite resentful about both of these things.
Her script was going to include phrases like “I”m sorry that you’re upset with me. I’m afraid our marriage is in trouble and you are considering divorcing me but I want to save our marriage because I don’t want to loose you.” Now, all of things were things were true, but I doubted the husband was going to react to this apology in the way that the wife was hoping for. The reason for this is because the wife’s apology was focused solely on her. She was telling the husband how his unhappiness in the marriage (and the potential ending of it) was going to affect her, not him.
When people accept an apology or forgive someone who is saying that they are sorry, this is largely due to the fact that they feel understood. But, the wife in this situation was not doing anything to convey that she understood how the husband was feeling and why he felt that way. She wasn’t outlining the things that she had done and why or how this was going to change.
Basically, she was proposing to tell her husband that she was sorry that her actions meant the marriage was in trouble. But, she wasn’t outlining which actions. Nor was she explaining how she planned to change her actions or how she planned to fix things. So, the husband had very little incentive to accept the apology. The wife was going to have a much better chance if she got into specifics and laid out a feasible plan as to how things were going to change (followed by the appropriate action, of course.)
The Things You Want To Say (And The Actions You Want To Take) To Convince Your Husband That You Are Truly Sorry: Of course, the exact words or phrases that you want to use in this situation depends upon the situation. In the situation that I’m talking about, the wife might want to say something like: “I want for you to know that I’m so very sorry for my behavior over this last year. I took you for granted and I treated you in a way that was the exact opposite of how I really feel. I want you to know that I love you more than anything in this world and I would never want you to think that I don’t deeply value and appreciate you or our marriage. I know that my actions have meant that our marriage is in trouble. And I don’t know what this means moving forward where you are concerned. But, I do know that on my end, you’re going to see some noticeable changes. My actions and behaviors are going to reflect how important you are to me. I know that you might doubt what I am saying right now. But I hope that my actions will prove to you that I’m completely sincere over time.”
Notice that the wife outlined what she had done. She stressed that this wasn’t fair to the husband and wasn’t based on her own feelings. She also reassured the husband that the situation was going to change. In short, in the first example, the apology was all about how the wife felt and it came off as somewhat selfish. But, in the second apology, the words were all about how the husband felt and how he was absolutely justified to feel this way but would be seeing some big changes. If you were the husband, which apology are you most likely to respond well to?
I firmly believe that most people would respond better the second. Try to remember that everyone wants to feel understood and validated and an apology is no exception to this. Of course, the words you say will eventually fall flat if you don’t back up those words with the appropriate actions and then follow up on what you’ve said. It’s only then that you’ll likely begin to gain some real ground so that your marriage recovers.
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