We would not be human if we didn’t make mistakes. In a relationship, when two people are navigating the complexities of each others feelings (as well as their own), mistakes are inevitable. How many times in life, at work, with friends, in the kitchen or anywhere have you had an “Oops!” moment? Likely many. And you probably do what you can to recover from that mistake and move on.
When a person makes a mistake in their relationship, it’s interesting how this drive to “correct” often gets lost. As a couples therapist who has seen mountains of resentment between people, when we start to unpack what’s transpired, often times there are mistakes (and misunderstandings which is another topic) that have not been addressed. I encourage my couples to help alleviate the buildup of the negative feelings towards each other by taking the following steps each time one has done something (inadvertently or not) to hurt the other.
- Take Responsibility: For some, this first step can be difficult, bringing up shame and other relationship blocking responses. Be mindful of the importance of staying focused on how your partner is feeling because of your mistake. Whether your blunder is realized by you or it’s brought to your attention after the fact, make a habit of owning what is yours.
- Make a Repair Attempt: Apologize to your partner for your role in upsetting them. Couples who get into the habit of repairing mini relationship ruptures along the way can decrease the build-up of resentment – which is toxic.
See my article, 14 Ways to Make Repair Attempts for other ideas about how to recover from your relationship mistakes.