When He Doesn’t Say He’s Sorry

by | Communication, Everyday, Firefighter Marriage


I went about 8 years in my marriage before my husband said the words “I’m sorry” to me.

Honestly, I don’t even think he realized it.

It’s not that he didn’t show it in some other way eventually but those were words that were hard for him.

We’d have a major blow up fight.  Yelling and screaming.  Until he’d be so angry he couldn’t speak, let alone concentrate on the issue we were focused on.  And I’d feel the same.  Are we talking in circles?   Does he even hear the words coming out of my mouth?   Will he just stop interrupting me so I can finish a sentence????

Then he’d leave in a huff.  Sometimes he’d be gone for an hour, sometimes for a day.  One time for a week.  (I knew where he was.  He was at a fire training and we had a fight just before leaving and he didn’t call me for the entire week.  It was Mother’s Day by the way.  Lovely.  And this sentence may be proof that I still harbor some resentment for that painful season.)

I truly felt like I *always* had to be the first one to break down a wall after an argument, soften my heart and say I was sorry for the argument we had.

Yes, it really didn’t seem fair but he was working through some major stubborn issues and examples from his past that were not healthy.   He just didn’t know how to do it nor what it meant to me.

Finally, after that many years and the many times that I told him how important it was to me to hear those words sometimes (as opposed to just re-entering our life as if nothing happened) he got it.  I wish I could tell you the secret button I pressed and the magic words that came out of my mouth but it’s just not that easy.

But hearing him finally say those words was about the sweetest sound ever.

Some of you might be really resonating with this and just pleading for me to show you how we did it.  So with a few years of padding to give me more clarity and hindsight, I can give a few suggestions on how to handle this situation…..

1.  Don’t let it make you more angry.  It’s not “fair”.  I totally agree. But what is?   And who defines “fair”?   Maybe you are the example that was put in their life to explain this.  And consider that a blessing that will only bring you closer as a couple.  Once you are on the other side, “fair” has an entirely different meaning.

2.  Learn the best ways to soften your heart and forgive so your spouse can truly see what this forgiveness looks like.  This is different for everyone but for me its letting go and trusting God’s love for me and His ability to change someone’s heart.  Basically I focused on God’s perfect love helping me through, instead of trying to “fix” my husband.

3.  Tell them.  Tell them you need an apology to bring closure.  That you want to know there is nothing still between you.  They can’t read your mind and although this is obvious to you, you might just need to say “I really need to hear you say you are sorry after situations like this.  This is what truly shows me we have closure on the disagreement.”

4.  Don’t be prideful.   It doesn’t make you “better” than them to be able to do this so.  You’ve got some other major plank in your eye instead.  If you have pride that you are able to forgive, you are missing the whole stinking point.

Most of all, remember this……when someone cannot say they are sorry, there is some big giant hurt inside of themselves holding them in that place of torture.  It’s something going on inside of them, not some evil part of you that is preventing those two simple words.   Someone who is that stubborn and defensive and can’t soften their heart and apologize, needs to be loved even more to help them through their hurts.

These are some of the toughest battles you will fight in your marriage.  But I can tell you that this was a giant milestone and turning point when both of us were able to soften our hearts, let go of fights more quickly and apologize to each other.  Sometimes still agreeing to disagree or needing further discussion but always with our affection for each other still intact.

forgiveness is unlocking

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.

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  1. Rachel

    So thankful for this article tonight. My hubs mad rarely says he’s sorry when we’ve had an argument. This last week we had a minor disagreement, but the issue is actually huge.
    I’ve stewed on it, prayed about it and dealt some with it. I decided to drop it absolutely completely forgive him for the hurt that it’s caused and the possibility of hurt that it will inevitably bring in the future.
    Nonetheless there’s still hurt there and I’m trying not to worry. Trying to let it be until he’s ready. But this waiting is then hard part. Do I go on like nothing has happened since I forgive him and am waiting for him to talk?

  2. Over The Top in Cleveland

    Thank you for the article. I’m about done at this point. Almost 22 years of marriage and nothing has changed.


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