Making Up Is Hard to Do

 Close up view of couple holding hands, loving wife supporting or comforting husband ready to help expressing sympathy, encouraging and understanding in marriage relationships, reconciliation concept

Is there a right way to make up after an argument with your mate? How do you right the wrong when it’s something you did? How do you forgive when it’s something they did? Kissing and making up sounds easy on the surface. There’s so much more involved.

After a fight, the damage needs to be repaired. One of you has to initiate a discussion and you both have to agree to it… eventually. Both of you have to take responsibility for your words and actions. In a relationship, saying you’re sorry and moving past an argument is not so easy.


Assessing the Damage and Who Goes First

Your clash could have been a silly argument or it could have been a hum-dinger. It could have been the “last straw” argument, the one where your mate tells you their “done” and you want to beg them to give you another chance – or vice versa. You both may have said words you wish you hadn’t. You may have raised your voice. You may have stormed out of the room. They may have acted like an out-of-control child. They may have made accusations, threats, acted like a total idiot.

There is hostility, resentment lingering after the slings and jabs, yelling, insults, name-calling and so on. What happens next? Who breaks the ice? Someone has to make the first move. Somebody has to apologize. Both of you need to have an open mind and an open heart to mend the situation.


 A Starting Point

No matter what was said and done and by whom, you each have to give up needing to be right. You each need to take responsibility for what you said in a heated argument. Look at it this way: What’s more important, an acknowledgment that you’re right or seeing the bigger picture, which is maintaining a loving, nurturing relationship? Own up to your mistakes. Even if you feel justified, you just have to loosen up, quit being so rigid, standing your ground.

Next, you need to look at your mate’s viewpoint. Why did they say what they did? Picture yourself as them. How would you feel? How would you respond?

Timing Is Important

It can take a little time to reconnect after an argument, but saying you’re sorry or “let’s talk” shouldn’t be put off too long – or too soon. Too soon could be interpreted as being insincere or needy; too late may show you either don’t care or are somewhat rigid in your thinking. Too late could be too late.

If you’re both avoiding each other after a fight – you at one end of the house, him in another – how long before someone breaks the ice? It becomes harder if you’re playing a game of who blinks first.


Get to the Heart of the Matter

Communicating after an argument should be thoughtful, productive, kind, loving. Maybe set some ground rules to keep from having the same or similar argument. If it doesn’t, the next disagreement may not get resolved well. At some point, it could be the final straw for one or both of you.

Don’t hold back from apologizing for your part of the argument. Don’t stay silent. Don’t avoid the heart of the issue or tip-toe around it because it’s uncomfortable. Talking around the argument isn’t making up. It’s not productive and superficial. You may not be resolving the issue. Be brave and dig in.


How to Say I’m Sorry

A heartfelt apology will go a long way. A quick “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it. Your mate will interpret that as insincerity, as a way to quickly smooth over the argument so they don’t have to talk more about it.

You each need to be specific about your apology. “I’m sorry for being insensitive about … “I’m sorry I lost my temper over … or, It was insensitive of me to ….”

Listen thoughtfully when your mate is speaking, without interrupting, without objections, without blocking out their words while you think of what you want to say.


Unproductive Apologies

You’re not over yet. An apology has two parts. The “I’m sorry” part and the “I won’t let it happen again” part. An empty “I’m sorry” needs a promise to do better in the future, to not repeat the same argument, to not act a certain way again.

An apology also isn’t a full apology if you make excuses; That’s a “qualified apology,” which really isn’t an apology at all. “I had a bad day,” “I have a headache,” “I’m tired, or “It’s that time of the month” are excuses. They imply you are not responsible for what occurred. An apology means taking responsibility. It is sincere with no qualifications.

Another fake apology is adding some wisecrack or retort to your apology. Avoid last-minute jabs. Refrain from the temptation to defend yourself about what you said or did.

Here are some possible “I’m sorry” openers:

·         “I’ve treated you so wrong. Now let me make it right.”

·         “I never meant to hurt you. It won’t happen again.”

·         “It makes me so sad that I upset you. I never want to upset you.”

·         “I’m so sorry I let you down. I will always be supportive, from this day forward.”


After-Fight No No’s

There’s a difference between acting cold and withdrawn and needing some space after an argument. Some people get clingy after a spat; others want some physical distance. Respect each other’s desires. In this case, give your mate some breathing room. Pushing yourself on them during this period of recovery may just upset them all over again.

Don’t take a period of silence as a sign your mate is becoming permanently more distant. If they are the clinger and you’re the one that needs more time, give them a warm hug, some emotional support, and tell them you’ll be yourself again in a short while. Explain your need for space. Don’t use silence as punishment.

You know what pushes your mate’s buttons. Refrain from pushing them to avoid escalating or resurrecting the argument.

After some time has passed, be open to revisiting the issues of the argument – not the argument itself, of course. Don’t walk away if your sweetie wants to discuss it more. Don’t make a joke out of it. Wanting to “let bygones be bygones” doesn’t work either. All you’re doing is sweeping dirt under the rug. Sooner or later you’ll have to deal with it.

If your mate later questions something they heard you say in the argument, don’t insist you did or didn’t say it. Don’t say, “I would never say that.” You’re cruising for another argument. Instead, you might say, “I didn’t realize I said that. I’m sorry,” or “When I said that, what I meant was …” or “I’m so sorry I said that” or “Please don’t think I wanted to hurt you.” Then focus on how you will behave going forward.

Don’t create “broken record syndrome.” That’s when you go over and over the argument in your head and try to figure out who is right and who is wrong. When it’s over, let it be over. Accept your role in the argument. It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong.

Don’t push yourself to engage in sex after a fight if you’re not feeling like it. But do explain why to your mate. Don’t just turn away or say no. Make some physical contact; a hug, a warm kiss, reassurance that you’ll be back to being your loving self very soon.


What Comes After Kissing and Making Up?

Arguments can be opportunities to mend fences, create better communication, rebuild intimacy. If you’ve done the making up part well, you two will have come to some resolutions about what to do going forward. You will have gained better insight into each other. You will know better how to diffuse arguments or avoid them in some instances. Don’t be afraid to have them. In a loving partnership, it’s part of the package.