In a relationship, when you’re with the person you love the most, you think it would be easy to say sorry. But often it isn’t. Often it’s harder than it should be, and we need to think about why that is. If we don’t, we may regret not saying it. 

I must admit, I’m ‘that person’ who gets really annoyed when people are rude or have a lack of manners. When people don’t say please, or thank you, or apologise. I just think it really isn’t that hard to do, and it just shows respect to everyone.

I’m quite big on saying sorry.

But so often, it can be so hard saying sorry to the people you love most

I think, if we’ve done something wrong, just apologise. I come across people who say they never apologise because it shows weakness. I disagree. Admitting you’re not perfect, taking responsibility, sometimes in awkward and embarrassing situations, shows strength of character.

But so often, it can be so hard saying sorry to the people you love most.

Just Say Sorry 

At a work thing I went to, we were doing one of these ‘games’ where we answer questions to get to know our work colleagues.

One of the standard questions came up, which went something like ‘what would you say to your younger self if you could talk to them?’

One of my colleagues started to say a few different things, but he said above all he wished he could say to his younger, newly married self: ‘Just say sorry to her when you mess up. I don’t know why it seems so hard sometimes, but just say it sooner’.

I wanted to reflect on a few reason why it can feel hard sometimes

I know that sometimes I struggle to say it to my wife. When I feel aggrieved, or when I’m definitely in the right, or we’re both feeling hurt.

It can be just so hard.

I know others who have said similar things to me recently about their dating relationships or marriages. So I wanted to reflect on a few reasons why it can feel hard sometimes, and how we can maybe get over it.

It’s important because all relationships involve imperfect people. We make mistakes, and saying sorry is a big factor in making sure the mistakes don’t cause irreversible damage.

What’s Stopping Us

Some reasons why saying sorry is hard can be because:

  • We Are Feeling Hurt
  • Shows Weakness
  • Feeling Aggrieved

We Are Feeling Hurt

Let’s be honest, often, especially with the more important issues, there is blame to share. We may be mostly to blame, but not completely, or vice versa. This can lead us to think, ‘I deserve an apology too’.

We can quickly be left thinking that ‘I’ll apologise once they do’.

The thing is, saying sorry isn’t about getting something we’re owed, it’s about saying sorry because we hurt someone we care about, and/or done something we shouldn’t have. We may be hurt too, and even entitled to an apology, but that doesn’t mean we can’t say sorry.

It can be really hard, but just saying sorry, taking the first step, can really help repair whatever damage has been done.

Shows Weakness  

Some people I come across say they don’t apologise because it shows weakness. Well, in a relationship, we need to be vulnerable.

A good relationship is as much about dealing with the lows as it is about riding the highs. There are low points, weaknesses are exposed and we can do some damage. We need to be able to feel like we can support each other through those times.

Without vulnerability, we can’t build a relationship

This involves being willing to say sorry. Being willing to say we trust each other when we are vulnerable and make mistakes because we know they will stick around anyway. Without vulnerability, we can’t build a relationship. (Read Intimacy Without Vulnerability’, Why It Won’t Work.)

Feeling Aggrieved

If you’re anything like me, you’re good at arguing your corner. You can feel like the way you see a situation is the fairest, and most logical (even when it probably isn’t!). It’s therefore easy to feel aggrieved if you think someone goes against it.

We think ‘by justice alone I shouldn’t need to apologise. It’s the principle of it!’

The thing I’ve learned, the hard way, is that it can come down to perception. We all have different tolerance levels, boundaries, the context affects things, and so on. So, for example, my idea of a joke, may not be funny to my wife for whatever reason (hard to believe I know.)

They can see things differently

We may feel we’ve done nothing wrong, why should we need to say sorry? Well, it’s because of how it was perceived. Sorry is sometimes about being big enough to realise that they can see things differently and it upset them.

Argue your corner if you want, but we should also acknowledge their hurt. (Read How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed)

Imagine If…

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, we all will deserve an apology at some point in life and we will all need to give many too.

Imagine if, in our romantic/close relationship, the place where it can be hardest to do, we made it a priority to say sorry early. And remember, it’s not about making sure we get one before we say it. Or avoiding it because it shows vulnerability. Or forgetting that perception is just as important as what happened.

Remember the last time someone said sorry to you, and how it made you feel, and how it affirmed you and helped you move on. (Read After Your Arguments, You Don’t Walk Out.)

Why is it sometimes so hard to just say sorry to those we care about most? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 22/1/2018