At some point, everyone has done something for which an apology is necessary to restore a relationship, whether or not the offending party feels she was wrong, according to Joyce Vissel, R.N., M.S., and Barry Vissel, M.D., in “The Art of Apology" at The Shared Heart Foundation. The apology must be sincere and heartfelt, or it is meaningless to you and to person you hurt. You probably didn’t mean to hurt your boyfriend’s parents, but an apology could mend things.
When you apologize, take full responsibility for your words and actions, even if you feel that you did nothing wrong, suggest the Vissels in “A Powerful Forgiveness Technique.” Don’t lay blame on the other person or word your apology in any way that suggests they need to apologize to you. Specify what you are apologizing for so your boyfriend’s parents understand that you know what you did.
An apology without remorse isn’t an honest apology, according to the Vissels in “The Art of Apology.” Acknowledge that your actions have created unhappy or uncomfortable feelings and you wish that the incident hadn’t happened. His parents need to understand that you are truly sorry for hurting them, and that you aren’t issuing the apology as a matter of show. Be vulnerable and admit that what you did has caused you shame or upset.
Plan Different Actions
To restore trust after a hurtful experience, you want to explain what you will do differently in the future to ensure that you don’t repeat your misstep. You might avoid spending the night if you offended them by sleeping in the same bed with their son before marriage or refrain from saying anything negative about the meal his mom prepared. Your apology might include, “I’m sorry you were offended by my assumption that I could sleep with Barry. I didn’t intend to put you in a position where our relationship caused you discomfort or violated your values.”
Express No Expectations
Let his parents know that you don’t expect anything from them and acknowledge that forgiveness might not be possible right now, suggests the Mayo Clinic in “Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness.” You can control your responses, not theirs; it might take time for them to come to a place where they can forgive you. On the other hand, they might welcome you back with love because they see that you truly meant no harm.
If his parents accept your apology, you might take an additional step to ensure reconciliation occurs. Ask if there is anything they need from you, suggests coach and relationship expert Lindsay Kriger in the guest post “How to Ask for Forgiveness” on Karen Salmansohn’s website. His parents might not need anything more than your apology, but your request assures them that you want to maintain an open and respectful relationship.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.
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