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Three Golden Words: "I Am Sorry"

by Ariel & Shya Kane

An excerpt from How to Create a Magical Relationship, The Three Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Love Life

Over the years, the two of us have become more intimate. Intimacy is a natural by-product when we communicate with one another, and as we became more trusting, we also dropped our shields. As we opened our hearts, any unaware or insensitive behaviors hurt more acutely. It was important to realize that something that might have been a small transgression at one time took on added weight as we became more vulnerable. Since this is the case, another important tool has been learning to use the three golden words: "I am sorry."

Saying you are sorry, and meaning it, is a miraculous healing tool. We once coached a lady who said she would "rather crawl over ground glass" than tell her husband she was sorry for anything. As soon as she realized that the only thing she had to give up was being right about her point of view, saying she was sorry wiped away years of transgressions, both large and small.

The most challenging time to apologize is when you don’t feel you have done anything wrong. At these times, it is important to rely on your listening skills. Remember, when you are truly listening, you are listening with the intention of hearing what the other person has to say from his or her point of view. If you can see your partner’s perspective, it is easier to let yourself apologize.


The person who gets hurt most when you don’t forgive, when you hold a grudge, is you, because you have to hold on to it. And if you have hateful thoughts, then they run you—they don’t help you at all.

Forgiveness will help you create the relationship of your dreams. It involves giving up the right to punish, as if you are forgiving a debt—as though the transgression never happened.

If you have a relationship with somebody, without forgiving them for what they did or didn’t do, you can’t have true intimacy. If you have a list of his or her transgressions, every time you try to be intimate, that list comes between you. So you may have sex, for instance, but it won’t be truly nurturing if you’re holding on to things that your partner did wrong in the past.

Please don’t misunderstand us. We are not saying that you should turn a blind eye to things that your partner may be doing that do not work for you. Part of what has allowed each of us to keep moving to deeper levels of intimacy has been the willingness to be straight forward with ourselves and with each other about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. However, there will be times in any relationship when each of you will do insensitive things. You can either keep a list of these offenses and literally carry them around with you, or you can truly forgive each other and move on.

The Power of Sincerely Apologizing—and of Truly Accepting an Apology

It doesn’t matter how well you communicate, how sensitive you are, how in love and perfectly matched you are with your partner, sooner or later you will do something that blows it. When that happens, there is actually a magic wand that can dissolve the hurt and restore your relationship. As mentioned in the last chapter on sex and intimacy, a sincere apology can mend a world of hurts. There are some tricks to having an apology work and also ways of ensuring that when you do say you’re sorry, it will not inflame the situation more.

If you apologize, really mean it. There is nothing more maddening than having someone say he or she is sorry just to placate you when the person really still thinks his or her actions were right. Here is an example. Try saying these words out loud and see which feels better: "I am sorry if I hurt your feelings," or "I am sorry for hurting your feelings."

At the same time, if your partner sincerely apologizes, you must be prepared to accept it. By the time he or she finally "admits" the wrongdoing, you may have a backlog of examples of how he or she did the same thing on other occasions. Rubbing a person’s nose in it will only reignite the fight and certainly will not make it easy for your partner to apologize again in the future. If you are punished for being truthful, you are much less likely to be honest.

It may be true, in a bigger sense, that what you do does not hurt, disturb, or upset your partner, but on a day-to-day level, there is plenty you can do that can have damaging effects. Saying you are sorry—and meaning it—only hurts your ego, but it can rebuild the bridge between you and another person. Then you can experience being in love long after the rose of the first attraction blooms and fades.

This is an excerpt from Ariel & Shya Kanes’ book, How to Create a Magical Relationship, published by McGraw-Hill and winner of the Nautilus Book Award in the category of Relationships / Men & Women’s Issues. Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, and business consultants Ariel & Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. To find out more about the Kanes and their Transformational Community or to sign up to receive their article of the month, visit their website at: www.TransformationMadeEasy.com

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