Having your husband let you down or say something that hurts you is bad enough. But what if he won’t admit it and say he’s sorry?
You wonder whether he’s callous or just clueless.
The pain feels more intense when you think about how easily he could offer the words you’re longing to hear—but he won’t.
It makes you wonder: did he think it was okay to blame you that the car broke down then leave you stranded?
And what about those nasty things he said during a fight? Doesn’t he want to take them back?
And what part of “Having drinks with a female coworker is not okay” doesn’t he understand?
Why can’t he just admit he was wrong and apologize?
Here are 3 ways to get your husband to apologize and stop hurting you.
1. Let Him Listen to His Conscience
Sarah let her husband know she wanted to get to a birthday party early with her contribution to the food. He agreed they would leave early.
So she was disappointed when he got home too late for them to be on time, much less early.
In the old days, she would have let him know she was upset and reminded him that he had said he would be home earlier and explained all the headaches he was causing for her.
She would have included heavy sighs and interrogation about what the holdup had been. And probably made a sarcastic remark or two.
But not this time. This time she was practicing the Six Intimacy Skills™, so she made a different choice.
Sarah played it out in her head and couldn’t think of one good outcome from the previous times she’d taken that approach.
He had never apologized in that old scenario, and she didn’t exactly feel dignified afterward. It hadn’t made him more prompt the next time.
So this time she decided to relinquish control, chalk up her husband’s transgression to his being a mere mortal man, and say only, “Hi! I’m ready to go.”
They hadn’t even made it out of the driveway when her husband gave her a heartfelt apology for making them late—the first one ever, according to Sarah.
She said it was a very special moment for her, especially since she believed her husband was just not the kind of guy to be emotionally supportive.
As this story illustrates, her husband already knew she was disappointed without her saying a word or raising an accusing eyebrow. So there was nothing more to say.
She was already late to the party, but one problem she didn’t have was a conflict with her husband.
Saying nothing about his tardiness left a space for him to hear his own conscience, which probably said something like, “You disappointed your wife. You should say you’re sorry.”
So he did.
If she had followed her old pattern, that still small voice inside him would have likely been drowned out with thoughts like, “She doesn’t know what my day was like. I deserve more respect than this. She’s not perfect either.”
The takeaway? If your husband already knows you’re hurt or disappointed, leave some quiet space for him to listen to his own heart.
2. Let Him Exercise His Right to Be Wrong
You might be thinking that example of being late is a small thing compared to what your husband has done. True, being late is a minor offense.
How do you let a big thing slide without comment? How do you not explode?
In my experience, the same principles apply to much bigger letdowns.
Pointing out my husband’s shortcomings, no matter how justified I feel, just doesn’t get the tender words I’m longing for.
It doesn’t make him shape up.
It certainly doesn’t make him see things from my point of view. Not authentically.
It’s very hard for people to hear their conscience when they’re busy defending themselves and feeling hurt.
And even though my husband seems like a big, strong man, my words can hurt him.
Same with your husband.
I’m not proud to admit that I’ve said many hurtful things over the years.
One thing that helps me stay out of that kind of trouble now is reminding myself that my husband has the right to be wrong.
He’s only human. The human I chose to marry and promised to respect.
And when I show up respectfully in our marriage, my husband’s confidence grows because the woman who knows him best in the world thinks he deserves respect.
And you know what confident people are more likely to do than those who feel insecure?
It’s not easy for anybody, and it takes some self-confidence to muster the humility. The more your husband feels respected, the more likely he is to feel that confidence.
3. Clean Up Your Side of the Street
When I first learned what respect looks like, I was pretty shocked at all the ways I wasn’t respectful.
If you’d asked me before that, I would have said I DID respect him. Except for how messy he was and how much TV he watched.
Which was not very respectful. At all.
But it was worse than that in my case. I was trying to help my husband all the time. Which meant he felt criticized all the time because that’s how “helpful” in wife language translates for husbands.
When I opened my eyes a little wider and got a glimpse of all the destruction in the wake of my disrespect, I realized I had plenty to apologize for.
Not that I felt like apologizing! I preferred pointing out what my husband should apologize to ME for, like the crusty old Muppets in the balcony on The Muppet Show.
But that never worked. It didn’t get me apologies, and it didn’t get me connection or feeling loved and desired.
Once I turned my attention to cleaning up my own side of the street and found the willingness to apologize for the specific times I’d fallen short of my own standards, something shifted.
The culture in our relationship changed. The walls came down so fast it made me nervous in a butterflies-in-my-stomach way.
And in the tender space that remained, there were lots of apologies—mine and his.
The funny thing is that I no longer felt so attached to hearing those words.
Once I owned my own failings, the tension was broken.
I wasn’t nearly as fixated on him saying “I’m sorry.”
Suddenly I just wanted to sweep past what seemed like minor incidents and get back to feeling the good vibrations.
And today, that’s mostly what we do around here.
Now that we’re so used to holding hands, smooching and dancing in the living room, I’m quite sure that my husband didn’t mean to hurt me even when he does.
That makes an apology seem a lot less important than the other words I like to hear, like how much he loves me and how beautiful I am.
Who knew that getting myself to apologize would lead to the outcome I was craving.
I’m so sorry I didn’t know sooner.