3 Ways To Get Out Of The Doghouse When You've Really Screwed Up

It takes a lot more than flowers to convince someone to forgive you.

Man attempting to get out of dog house fotomaniya, Lisa Fotios | Canva

"In the doghouse? Try some flowers! $7.99 for a dozen carnations."

We recently saw this message on the marquee for a florist in our city and wondered if it was a reality. If you've done something to anger or upset your partner, will a bunch of carnations make it all better? Probably not.

You could purchase your partner the most expensive bouquet of exotic flowers you can find and still not erase whatever you've done or the pain they feel.


RELATED: How To Apologize Effectively & With Sincerity

Here are 3 ways to get out of the doghouse when you've screwed up badly.

1. Be honest with yourself about what happened and why.

If you want to regain harmony in your relationship, own up to what you said or did. First, be honest with yourself. Are you clear about what happened that might have upset or hurt your partner? If you're not, ask them to "please help me understand." The answer may surprise you.

Explore your motives. Were you acting from long-held resentment or anger of your own? Were you not thinking, or was something else behind what happened?


Before you can genuinely make amends, you've got to understand what happened and why from your perspective.

She feels like she is in the doghouse Nicoleta Ionescu via Shutterstock

To be "in the doghouse" in a relationship means you have made a mistake that's led to conflict and disconnection. Because of what you did (or what your partner thinks you did), they want nothing to do with you for the time being. Now, you're not sleeping on the couch but out in the backyard in the dog's house!


Stereotypically and historically, this phrase referred to a man who did something so wrong his girlfriend or wife was irate. Today, anyone in a relationship can find themselves "in the doghouse."

You may have gotten into the doghouse by:

  • forgetting an anniversary or another important date
  • breaking a promise (again)
  • being consistently late for dates
  • getting caught flirting, texting with your ex, or watching porn
  • saying something hurtful, demeaning, rude or unkind

The severity varies, and what seems like "no big deal" to you could be a very big deal to your partner. This is why a strong reaction lets you know, without a doubt, your partner is angry.

RELATED: 3 Immediate Steps To Take If You've Drifted From Your Partner


2. Take responsibility for what you said or did.

Say "I'm sorry" only when you feel it. If you don't believe that you've done something wrong or if you feel justified in your actions, that will drown out any apology you attempt to make. This is why it's so critical for you to understand what you did and why.

When you apologize sincerely, you take responsibility for your part in whatever happened. Even if your partner sees this as all your fault, don't take more than your share. Own your role and give your partner a chance to own their role.

What happens if your partner still thinks this is all your fault? This can be tricky. It's best to focus on taking ownership of what you did and allow your partner to realize, on their own, that it wasn't all you after all.


But you can be honest with how you feel about what happened. You can express your regret for what you did, and you say, "I felt ____ when you said/did _____."

RELATED: Why Every Marriage Has This One Serious Relationship Problem

3. Replace flowers with follow-through.

Save the flowers (or any other gift) for romance! When your partner is angry and upset, it's not a time for romance. In the vast majority of situations, material objects aren't a healthy or effective way to repair damage from mistakes, betrayals, or hurt words.


In addition to your sincere apology and ownership of your share, the most powerful way you can start to reconnect with your partner is to follow through.

Follow through with agreements (new and old) you have made with your partner. Let them know you have learned from what happened and don't intend to repeat past mistakes by your consistent actions. This isn't as flashy as expensive jewelry or a bouquet, but it is far better for your relationship.

When people find themselves in the doghouse in their relationship, they often react in unintentionally harmful ways, like trying to minimize the situation and their partner's emotions, ignoring their partner's anger, apologizing immediately and profusely, or purchasing gifts to make amends.

@dougweaverart Gifts should be associated with good experiences, not traumatic events. #gifts #couple #relationship #relationshipadvice ♬ original sound - dougweaverart

Think about the promise of the message on the flower shop's marquee! Flowers, empty words, and attempts to dismiss or avoid your partner's ire are ineffective. Many efforts can backfire and lead to even more disconnection and conflict.

RELATED: 6 Relationship Traps Healthy, Successful Couples Avoid At All Costs

Susie and Otto Collins are Certified Transformative Coaches who help awaken love and possibilities in your life