HAVE YOU DONE SOMETHING that has greatly upset your husband?
Did you share a private secret with someone else that your husband had trusted you to keep?
Or did you make a joke in front of your friends that you thought was funny, only to realize you greatly embarrassed your husband?
Perhaps you said something hurtful in the middle of an argument, and now you regret it.
As much as these situations are terrible, what is worse is allowing them to drag out. By not speaking about the issue, withdrawing from your husband, and digging in your heels, you will breed bitterness and end up hurting your marriage.
To propel your relationship after you have made a mistake, here are some tips on how to make your husband listen to you.
1. Timing is everything
Your husband does not multitask as well as you do (no man does). Initiating the conversation when he is watching TV is not a good idea. You will not get his full attention. You cannot compete with distractions. The place and time when you have the conversation are crucial. It might be tempting to call him and apologize over the phone, but calling him while at work or attempting to solve a conflict when he is busy is not going to end well.
Take yourselves out of your home: go to a restaurant or take a walk. Juggling an intense conversation with rushing to wipe your children’s spills just won’t work. If you cannot leave, wait until the children are asleep.
Is it a good time for your husband?
Also, find out whether it is a good time for your husband. Is he sleepy, exhausted or in a bad mood? These are not good times to talk. If he indicates that it is not a good time, respect that. Ask him when it would be better to talk. If talking needs to wait, set a realistic time and stick to it.
Tip: When it is finally time to have the conversation, sit beside your husband and not face to face. Sitting face to face could be intimidating, and the eye contact might be distracting during a tough conversation. It also increases the emotional distance between the two of you when there is already tension. Sitting beside your husband sets a more relaxed and comfortable environment for the conversation.
2. Start the conversation on the positive
This is going to be a tough conversation; indeed it is one we would rather not have. So it's tempting to postpone it. When a window to talk pops up you think maybe tomorrow, maybe next week.
But the longer you wait, the bigger the issue will become. And it can eventually start eating into your relationship.
Even when the look of hurt and disappointment in your husband’s eyes fills you with dread. And all words feel inadequate and you do not know how best to express your remorse, it is still important to have the conversation, and have it in a quick time frame. But there is a trick you can use to make starting the conversation easier…
So, why not start smart?
Before you even utter the first word, set yourself up for success. Starting the conversation on the positive can significantly change the atmosphere of the conversation.
If you are not sure exactly what to say, express how much you value your husband’s willingness to sit down and talk with you. Express your appreciation for how your husband handled things even when he was clearly hurt. True appreciation of what he has done for you is a great way to start a hard conversation with your man. (Men absolutely love being appreciated).
Appreciate other gestures of kindness from your husband during that difficult period. Also, highlight the attributes that make you confident that your relationship will thrive despite the conflict: his patience, wisdom and his forgiving nature.
Quick tip: Do not come with expectations of how your husband will react when you apologize. He may or may not grant the forgiveness right away. He may even need time to let your apology sink in. Let your husband know that you will respect his reaction to your apology, even if he needs the space to process your mistake.
3. Apologize: the right way
‘I am sorry you are feeling bad about what I did; but can we please just forget about it and move on?’ is not an apology.
Yes, there is such a thing as a lousy apology. Not being sincere in your apology is one of the worst mistakes that many of us make. Your husband knows you, and he will know you are merely apologizing to end the conflict. I mean, you did not marry a fool, did you?
Also, an apology that turns into an explanation of why you did what you did is horrible. I know you are trying to show you did not intend to hurt him, but it just comes off as an excuse.
‘I didn’t mean it,’ doesn’t really help. The fact of the matter is that your husband is hurting, whether you intended it or not. Attempting to justify your intention damages the attempted apology. There is a very thin line between an apology and a justification.
4. Admit you are wrong – without any excuses.
Owning your mistakes is hard, and it can be a painful process. However, the healing of your relationship relies on your ability to take full responsibility for your actions. It might take some time for your husband to heal if the mistake was too hurtful, but your willingness to be vulnerable and own your mistakes goes a long way towards your reconciliation.
- Show true remorse for the pain that you have caused your husband.
- Commit to not hurt your husband again by repeating the hurtful behavior.
- Acknowledge the consequences of the action that created the pain.
- Present a plan of action to make things right.
Quick tip: Refusing to admit you are wrong and seeking forgiveness from your husband will severely damage your marriage. Pride has no place in marriage. You can only strengthen your relationship by practicing vulnerability. And do not ever, dismiss your husband’s feelings of betrayal by telling him to get over it. This is lack of wisdom.
5. Do not dwell on conflict
After your husband forgives you, it is time to mend your relationship, draw closer and deepen your intimacy. Take the initiative to organize activities that you can enjoy together. And, do not make it a habit of repeating the mistake. After you make a mistake enough times, the apology becomes meaningless. The apology will also be rendered worthless if it is not accompanied by a change of behavior.
Most importantly, how do you treat your husband when he has hurt you? This is the true benchmark of how you can expect him to treat you when you make mistakes. If you are hard on him and demand for your pound of flesh when he errs, you will find it harder to expect compassion and understanding from him when the tables are turned.
We all make mistakes, it's how we deal with those mistakes that matters. If you're still umming and ahhing about what, when and how to get your husband to listen then it's time to put the relationship first and lead by example.
If this sounds like a big step for your current situation then you can get some help. I recommend educating yourself and getting a different perspective from an expert before trying to take your husband to any formal counseling.
It's also important to remember that you are not alone. Not only are there people to help you, but many women have gone through similar situations and come out the other side with a stronger relationship.
Lastly, do not let this experience go to waste. Learn from it; use it to strengthen your relationship. If your marriage can overcome this challenge, it can overcome the next and the next. Your relationship is not as fragile as you probably feared. Take pride in that.