in: Intentional Living

The Importance of I’m Sorry

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 Im 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 its 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 youve 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 couldve done better. Focusing on what we can do/can own is much more effective than focusing on what youre partner couldve/wouldve/shouldve done.

2. When you say youre sorry, mean it!

I cant tell you how damaging an unapologetic Im sorrycan 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 youre 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 shouldnt do next time).

If you are able to take accountability for something you shouldnt 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 youve been thinking about how you will make it better, can go a long way in repairing and strengthening your relationship.

4. Talk constructively.

If theres been a disagreement or a misunderstanding in your relationship, thats OK! In fact, thats expected. I see a lot of couples in my practice who have been unhappy for a while; they basically havent 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. Its 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 dont own up to your own shortcomings in the relationship because your significant other isnt mentioning it, that doesnt necessarily mean everything is OK. Talk about whats 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. Dont wait until its 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 youve moved on? Its almost like its a law of the universe. Dont wait until its too late to say Im sorry. Life is too short. If youre upset, speak up. If youre sorry or embarrassed about something you did, own it. Even if you are in a relationship that may not have long-lasting potential, its important for you to be an honest, respectable and humble person in order to continue building stronger and more meaningful relationships.

6. Laugh!

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. Its important to remember that mistakes and disagreements are a normal part of relationships and growing. Even the best and longest relationships have challenges, but its 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]

About the Author:

Julie Gladnick

Julie Gladnick is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver. Originally from the East coast, Julie attended graduate school at John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley and earned her license in California before relocating to Denver in 2011. Julie focuses her practice on working with men, women and couples struggling with self-esteem, relationship issues, body image, eating disorders and pre- and postnatal challenges. Her background includes: working with clients in intensive outpatient and residential dual diagnosis treatment programs; children and their families of trauma in community and school-based programs; and men, women and couples struggling with life transitions, anxiety, depression and relationship challenges in private practice. Julie lives in Denver with her husband and two children, and enjoys jogging, hiking, skiing and the beautiful great outdoors of Colorado. To learn more about Julie’s work or to connect with her, you can visit her site,


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