Sometimes marriage can feel like a minefield. Both people have so many thoughts, beliefs, and emotions buried under the surface. When stress piles on, it is easy to trip on each other's mines and BOOM! The wonderful thing is, it is possible to come back from these inevitable explosions. A proper, sincere apology can work wonders. Here are some tips to help you master this important skill.

1. Think about yourself first. This may seem backwards, since you have probably been told to always think about your partner first. In this situation, though, you need to consider yourself first. Really examine what you said and did. This may take some time. That's ok. It is better to give a great apology than to spit out something you don't mean. Consider:

  • why you said and did what you did
  • why you got upset (use a scale of one to ten and figure out where you emotion fits on that scale)
  • whether the level of emotion you exhibited was appropriate to the situation (was there something else going on?) 
  • what you could have done differently
  • the importance of the incidence in the grand scheme of things

You do not want to blame your partner as part of your apology! Regardless of what your spouse said or did, you are at fault, too. You failed to understand what your spouse was trying to tell you. You did not honor and cherish them. If you don't feel like you should give your spouse an apology, that is your decision. Don't give them an improper one, though, and then get upset when they don't accept it. This is one area where prayer can be a powerful tool. If you are full of pride and hurt, take it to God. He can heal you and then help you fix your relationship. 

2. Think about your spouse. Don't focus on what they did, but think about them as a person. How are they doing? What might be going on under the surface for them? What might they have been hoping to receive from you? Choose to look at them with compassion and empathy. You chose this person and you promised to love and cherish them. No one is perfect and there are bound to be breakdowns (from both of you). How can you turn that breakdown into a bridge? Try:

  • looking deeply into your spouse's eyes to reconnect
  • thinking about all the things you love about your partner
  • asking questions so you can understand your lover's perspective
  • considering how their day went before you jump to conclusions 
  • making a mental list of ways you can serve your spouse 

3. Say "I love you." After you have considered yourself and your spouse, you are ready to apologize. All you need to do is look into their eyes, say you are sorry, and tell them that you love them. You don't need to explain your actions. You don't need to ask them to explain theirs. Just say you are sorry and tell them how much they mean to you. Chances are very good that when they sense your sincerity, they will apologize as well. You may decide at a later time that you need to talk about what happened so that it doesn't happen again. However, that should not be a part of your apology. 

If you learn the power of a sincere apology, you will be able to diffuse the mines when they go off and have a happy, successful relationship. For more ideas, check out a Christian marriage counselor in your area.