How to Apologize to Your Wife (6 Steps You Can’t Skip)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for full details.

Have you ever said you’re sorry to your wife and gotten the cold shoulder?

I’m a wife and I can tell you, you did it wrong.

Here’s how to apologize to your wife:

  • Put away your defenses first
  • Take complete responsibility for hurting her—no “buts”
  • Share her hurt
  • Know when to put your arms around her
  • Tell her you’ll try to do better (and mean it)

If the situation is bad enough that a heartfelt apology won’t cut it, you need to do more—that’s something a lot of husbands don’t understand. 

If you don’t know where to start, check out Save The Marriage.

Now without further ado, here’s how to make peace with your wife.

What Are You Doing Wrong?

man and woman holding arms across from each other at a table with a quote about a husband apologizing sincerely to his wife

As a wife, it is beyond irritating to hear those two words from your husband:

“I’m sorry.”

(Most of the time, anyway.)

If you’re surprised by that, think of what usually follows “I’m sorry”:

  • “…that you’re upset.”
  • “…I tried to do something for you.”
  • “…BUT…”
  • Silence and angry staring
  • Silence and a blank face

See what I mean? 

None of these apologies work because they all seem like deflecting, blame games or like you’re just trying to get out of trouble.

Basically, they sound insincere. For a woman, sincerity is the basis of a good apology.

And…they don’t do what your wife is on the edge of her seat waiting for you to do—acknowledge what you did that hurt her in the first place.

OK. Now that we’ve gotten the wrong way to apologize to your wife out of the way, let’s talk about the right way.

Read next: How to Save My Marriage After I Cheated on My Wife

How to Apologize to Your Wife

man sitting on a park bench thinking with a quote about taking responsibility for your mistakes for your wife to forgive you

No matter how bad things are, you CAN fix it.

If you only take one thing away from this post, make it this: You must take responsibility first.

Even if you’re both at fault, you can’t ignore the fact that your wife needs to see that you can put your ego aside and acknowledge to her and to yourself the part that you played.

The way your wife sees it?

It’s an expression of true love and caring for her.

Also, by claiming your mistakes, you will find your apology sounds much more sincere.

If you follow the steps below, your apology should be natural and authentic.

It will be exactly what your wife needs.

STEP 1. Stay calm

man with his face in his hands and a quote about calmly apologizing to your wife

The first thing you need to do is get to a place where you can apologize without sounding angry, annoyed or self-pitying.

Otherwise, you will not sound genuine.

It will sound more like you’re baiting your wife and you’re not at all sorry.

When you give an apology, it needs to be stated kindly and without raising your voice.

Never apologize from a place of volatile emotions.

Side note: Calm does not mean cold.

You’re not trying to withhold anything

The goal is instead to get rid of the defensiveness that will shut your wife right down the minute she hears it.

STEP 2. Say what you did wrong

Right away.

And don’t be tempted to rationalize at the same time.

If you did something that requires an apology, you can’t water it down with “but” or even “because,” as in, “I only did it because.”

That’s an excuse, not an explanation.

Actually, oftentimes an explanation can be a good thing in the name of total transparency.

But your wife isn’t ready to hear any of that yet.

At least not until she feels that you really understand not just that what you did was wrong and hurt her, but also why.

So that it doesn’t happen again.

Also, so that she doesn’t feel like a crazy person.

STEP 3. Put yourself in her shoes

husband trying to comfort his upset wife with a quote about relating to your spouse

You need to acknowledge your wife’s feelings and perspective.

Even though she doesn’t need you to validate them, it’s frustrating to a wife when her husband can’t relate.

For all her frustration, it feels like she’s just screaming into the void.

That’s exhausting.

You can help her feel heard AND become more sympathetic to your case if you can shift your perspective.

As Save The Marriage explains, this is part of the much-needed compassion that helps you understand your wife better and improves the quality of your relationship.

A simple “I would be angry if you had done that to me” usually suffices.

STEP 4. Show that you hurt yourself, too

By hurting your wife, you hurt yourself, too.

This is natural because you share a strong—and hopefully unbreakable—bond that is almost psychic in a way.

When your wife hurts, you feel pain that is indistinguishable from your own.

This is a characteristic of authenticity.

When you show her how you suffer from having caused her pain, you let her inside your heart.

That is what any wife wants from her husband.

How do you let her in? 

Demonstrate that you regret your actions. Tell her that you would take it back if you could.

Say you regret it.

It’s that simple.

STEP 5. Hug your wife

woman hugging a man with a quote about giving your wife a hug after a fight

Words are powerful, but so is a hug.

A hug can disarm your wife even if she’s still angry.

That being said, timing is everything.

Trying to hug your wife immediately after coming clean about something you kept from her is not the appropriate time.

However, holding your wife while she lies on the bed in tears is the right time.

Putting your arms around her and squeezing her tight after you’ve made that emotional connection with her and expressed your remorse is the right time.

It’s not a panacea, but a hug is damn well needed after a fight.

STEP 6. Explain what you’ll do better in the future

Always follow an apology up with a plan.

A plan to do your damndest to not let what happened, happen again.

You could simply say, “I won’t do it again.” 

And if it’s a minor offence, that might be all that’s necessary.

If it’s bigger than that, or a repeat offence, think about beefing this up to make it a more substantial (and believable) promise.

Something like: “I’m going to try a lot harder to listen to you better.”

Or: “I will do my best to treat you the way you want to be treated because that’s what you deserve.”

And most importantly: If she tells you exactly what she needs from you moving forward, do it.

Apologizing to your wife is not easy, but following these steps should help get you back into your wife’s good graces and make you both feel a sense of accomplishment in your relationship.

But if lately you feel like you’re apologizing for way bigger, deeper problems in your marriage, it may be time to seek help.

You can find help in Save The Marriage, a guide that outlines what you should do to get your marriage back, plus how to avoid the damaging mistakes people make with all the best intentions.

It’s a practical guide, and it works.

Check out Save The Marriage here.

Marlene Davis is an experienced blogger with a focus on interpersonal relationships. Her dream is to help improve people's lives and relationships through sharing of practical knowledge and evidence-based practices.