Just as disagreements are bound to arise in a relationship with your partner, words and comments can also be lost in translation when dealing with your boyfriend's parents. Though you can ask for forgiveness, you cannot control whether or not your boyfriend's parents forgive a transgression. However, there are plenty things you can do to smooth things over with your partner's parents.
When to Make an Apology
While making an apology can smooth over some situations, apologizing on someone else's behalf or for circumstances over which you have no control should be avoided, according to Debrett's. Such apologies can cheapen the words "I'm sorry" when a later wrongdoing actually occurs -- or may make you seem insincere. If you do not feel you did anything wrong, you might instead keep your focus on his parents' feelings. You might say to your partner's parents, "I understand that you felt hurt and angry about dinner last week. I want to work things out with you, and I want us to have a good relationship," according to Psychology Today psychologist Tamar Chansky.
What to Avoid
Some apologies can add more fuel to hurt feelings. You should avoid blaming your behavior or actions on someone else when making an apology. It is also unwise to excuse your behavior by pointing at something else that your boyfriend's parents did in the past, according to Debrett's article, "Apologising." Other comments, like saying, "I'm sorry you thought that I was rude," can appear insincere and unapologetic. When making an apology, the apology should focus on what you did wrong.
You have a few different ways to apologize, depending on the situation. You might say, "I'm sorry about what I said to you. It was thoughtless and hurtful, and I did not mean it. I hope we can get our relationship back on track," according to the Hallmark article, "How to Say Sorry." You might also say, "I love your son a great deal and I want to have a good relationship with his family. How can I help us move in that direction?" Alternatively, "I'm sorry about what happened last week," though simple, can also work.
Preparation and Aftermath
Before making an apology, finding out the reason that your boyfriend's parents are upset is important when crafting your apology. You may also want to practice what you plan to say ahead of time. While it can be tempting to leave your boyfriend to pass on your message, apologies should be made personally -- whether by phone, letter or in person. If the disagreement is serious, softening it may mean apologizing in person first before following up with a handwritten note or card, according to Debretts. Remember that any outcome to your apology is possible: his parents may accept it graciously, or they may be unwilling or not ready to do so. If forgiveness is not forthcoming, you can say, "I hope we can work this out in the future and move forward."
Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.