In relationships, there are generally two sayings that are marked as the most difficult to say. The first is “I love you.” The second, and arguably the toughest to say, is “I‘m sorry.“
It may seem simple, but being able to take accountability in your relationships ranks up there in importance with trust, honesty and respect. We often get so caught up in our own feelings or our own needs that it‘s tough to see how we may or may not have contributed to something that affected our significant other.
Below are some steps to keep in mind when practicing humility, being accountable and uttering those two words. These will help to make your relationship strong and be a great partner:
1. If you think you‘ve been a jerk, own up to it.
Even if you think the other person has been a jerk, be the bigger person. Admit what you did wrong, or what you could‘ve done better. Focusing on what we can do/can own is much more effective than focusing on what you‘re partner could‘ve/would‘ve/should‘ve done.
2. When you say you‘re sorry, mean it!
I can‘t tell you how damaging an unapologetic ‘I‘m sorry‘ can be. It can actually be worse than not saying sorry at all. So, if you are trying to turn towards your partner and strengthen or repair your relationship, say you‘re sorry, and say it genuinely, when your partner is ready to hear it.
3. Think about what you could do differently next time (or what you shouldn‘t do next time).
If you are able to take accountability for something you shouldn‘t have done or said (or should have done or said), go one step further and think about what you could do differently next time. Letting your significant other know that, not only do you recognize your blunder, but you‘ve been thinking about how you will make it better, can go a long way in repairing and strengthening your relationship.
4. Talk constructively.
If there‘s been a disagreement or a misunderstanding in your relationship, that‘s OK! In fact, that‘s expected. I see a lot of couples in my practice who have been unhappy for a while; they basically haven‘t been talking about the things that have been upsetting them. Having arguments or disagreements, or being angry with one another, is completely natural and healthy. It‘s how you talk about it that really matters. If you are avoiding conflict and letting things fester, you are going to grow apart. If you don‘t own up to your own shortcomings in the relationship because your significant other isn‘t mentioning it, that doesn‘t necessarily mean everything is OK. Talk about what‘s going on in your mind. Be open and honest about what is bothering you, and try to think about your role in changing it.
5. Don‘t wait until it‘s too late.
How many times have you gotten over a terrible break up, only to have the person who broke your heart come crawling back after you‘ve moved on? It‘s almost like it‘s a law of the universe. Don‘t wait until it‘s too late to say I‘m sorry. Life is too short. If you‘re upset, speak up. If you‘re sorry or embarrassed about something you did, own it. Even if you are in a relationship that may not have long-lasting potential, it‘s important for you to be an honest, respectable and humble person in order to continue building stronger and more meaningful relationships.
When the time is right, and your significant other seems open to your apology, say it, mean it, and move on. Bring some love and laughter into the tougher times in your relationship by being humble about your shortcomings and laughing at your self a little. It‘s important to remember that mistakes and disagreements are a normal part of relationships and growing. Even the best and longest relationships have challenges, but it‘s how they work through it that matters. Sometimes, we take ourselves a little too seriously, and life and relationships can be a lot more fun than that! So take accountability, talk about what you both can do differently next time, and then move on!
[image: via Leyram Odacrem on flickr]