We all make mistakes in our relationship from time to time.
They can range in severity from forgetting to take out the trash to lying about using the nearly maxed out credit card or from spacing out your anniversary to having an online affair. When you're in a love relationship or marriage, both of you will periodically say or do the “wrong” thing.
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Hurt feelings and disconnection result. The future of your relationship may even hang in the balance because of what you said or did.
If making up and re-connecting are important to you, then you're going to want to apologize to your partner in an effective way. A sincere apology is an absolutely essential starting point for turning around the mistake and possibly for turning around an unhealthy habit that you and your partner may have fallen into.
Let's be clear here...
If all you do is apologize-- even in a heartfelt way-- you're not going to see much improvement. Merely an apology that's followed up with more of the same insensitive, neglectful or hurtful behavior will do nothing to help you and your partner make up.
It's definitely true that actions speak louder than words. But, words matter too.
There are a several ways that you probably do NOT want to apologize if re-connecting is your priority. Here are a few examples...
Don't use gifts as an apology.
The word on celebrity blogs is that Ashton Kutcher tried to apologize to his wife (for now) Demi Moore for his cheating by giving her an expensive car. We can't know if this is absolutely true and, if it is true, we can't imagine why Kutcher would do this.
It didn't work for him and it won't work for you.
Don't try to “buy” your way out of the mess that you made. Gifts are meant to be expressions of love and care and not attempts to absolve you from responsibility for your mistake. If you want to give your partner a gift, wait until you two have worked through whatever has happened and then choose something that feels right to you.
Again, gifts are not a useful way to give an apology. Take ownership for your actions and offer to make amends for what you've done.
If you are having a hard time talking face-to-face with your partner about how sorry you are, then write it down in a letter. Do whatever you can do to let this person you love know how sorry you are and what you will do to turn things around.
Don't offer a guilt-induced apology.
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If you want to undercut your apology, then deliver it from a place of guilt. If the only reason why you are saying “I'm sorry” is because you think that you “should” or that you “have to,” then back up.
Your partner will know that you aren't sincere when you give him or her a guilt-induced apology. It shows, so don't do this.