Damage Control: How To Recover When You've Said Something Hurtful

My wife, Connie, and I are in our 21st year of marriage and although it's been a wonderful, blissful, romantic, productive thrill ride, we didn't get here without making some mistakes…. all mine, of course. We believe in couples therapy; we believe in keeping God in the relationship and we feel like it's crucial to always be plugged-in to the latest advice and research from people who study couples for a living.

Psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith has written a book titled Emotional Fitness for Couples and in it he addresses the pitfalls and perils of hurtful conversations. For example: What should we do after we’ve said something hurtful, and a simple “I’m sorry” won’t cut it? Here’s how Dr. Goldsmith says we can recover from some of the most common, hurtful phrases:    

•    How do you take back saying “I hate you?” Dr. Goldsmith says for starters, you need to admit how immature those words sound. So, say something like: “That was so childish of me to say. I’m embarrassed! Can you forgive me?”

•    How do you recover after you’ve threatened to “break up” with your significant other? Dr. Goldsmith says no matter how long you’ve been together, it’s unacceptable to use the “B or D word” unless you really mean it - because it shatters your loved one’s trust. So, you need to make it clear that you know how wrong it was to say. Try something like: “I overreacted and was being dramatic. I promise I’ll never say that again.”

•    How do you take back calling your loved one a “jerk?” As it turns out, Dr. Goldsmith says people will usually forgive you for calling them names if you call yourself the same name because that sends the message that you don’t really believe what you said. So, try something like: “You know what? I’m the jerk for saying that!"

Also, keep in mind that we've had plenty of research on the radio show indicating that arguing and even bickering is very healthy for a relationship. In fact, couples who don't argue at all -"we never fight" - have the highest breakup/divorce rates because it means you don't care enough to 'fight' for the relationship. The one caveat here: NO NAME CALLING. Here's wishing you a wonderful, blissful, romantic, productive thrill ride with your mate.  


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