How to Talk About Mistakes in a Romantic Relationship

relationship

Talking about errors can make a difference in how a couple feels.


When I teach my class on the psychology of close relationships, at some point I get around to talking about the “not so bright and shining” moments that partners have. You know, those moments when someone inevitably takes a wrong turn and does something that’s likely to feel upsetting to their partner. To be clear, even though not all misdeeds are inevitable, it’s a certainty that, generally speaking, an offense of some type or another will happen because we’re all human and everyone makes mistakes.
For instance, perhaps you promised to do your partner a favor and then lost sight of it. Maybe you’re regretting those inconsiderate words you uttered a couple of days ago. Or your partner might have been really opening up to you in a vulnerable way, but you closed up and weren’t listening. No matter whether we’re talking about a mistake that’s more significant or a smaller misstep, stumbles are going to happen in a couple's journey together and, as long as that couple chooses to remain together, it’s healthy and important to be able to repair hurts in an effective way.
This brings us to the question of how couples might be able to fruitfully repair interpersonal wounds. In a recently published study, a team of researchers examined this question as they created a new questionnaire with the idea of “co-rumination” in mind. Co-rumination is “the extended and or recurring discussion of issues in social relationships.” They drew upon past psychological research suggesting that how an individual person thinks about difficult experiences is linked with that person feeling better or worse. More specifically, they referred to two concepts that have been linked to the idea of rumination: Reflection and brooding. Reflection involves thinking about the problem to try and work it out, whereas brooding involves repeating the same types of thoughts about what’s wrong and how upset a person feels, and magnifying the problem.
As you can probably guess, the former is useful and gets you somewhere, and the latter can be harmful, even though it can seem compelling. Although these elements of rumination have been applied to relationships (that is, co-reflection and co-brooding being two sides of co-rumination), the research team pointed out that these ideas haven’t really been used to understand how romantic partners might talk in the wake of a misstep and whether co-reflection and co-brooding may be connected to how the conversation goes.
First, they created and studied a measure of co-rumination and found that it mapped onto three forms of communication: Co-reflection, co-brooding, and co-avoidance. Co-reflection involved trying to reach a shared understanding and address an issue, whereas co-brooding involved focusing on one’s own views and feelings and not making headway on an issue. Co-avoidance involved staying away from the issue altogether. Then, the research team looked at how these three elements were connected with how partners feel after discussions about relationship mistakes. Co-reflection was the only style that was linked with better experiences for partners, such as more dedication to the relationship, more goodwill, and a person’s ability to truly take responsibility and forgive themselves. For co-brooding and co-avoidance, these styles were connected to experiences such as less goodwill, more vindictiveness, less dedication, and less of a capacity to really take responsibility and pardon oneself.
Certainly, no study is perfect. The team correctly highlighted the need for more research with more diverse groups of people. Also, the investigators were right to state that their research doesn’t make it possible to say that co-reflection, co-brooding, or co-avoidance causes a particular outcome, and other studies should clarify the link between how partners talk about relationship errors and what emerges from their conversations. All the same, given that co-reflecting is connected with more beneficial experiences for partners, it’s probably not a bad idea to try it the next time you and your partner are addressing a stumble and hurt feelings.

What could this look like? Based on the team’s research and their questionnaire, here are some possible ideas:
1.Try to really acknowledge, accept, and support how your partner feels (for example, hurt, hopeful, scared, angry, sad, confused).
2.Try to set aside your own position for a moment. Instead, try to really listen to your partner and see if you can understand where they’re coming from.
3.Try to be open and receptive to your partner in the conversation.

reference:
psychology today

link:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/your-future-self/202304/how-to-talk-about-mistakes-in-a-romantic-relationship
47 replies
  1. Arefeh akbarpur
    Arefeh akbarpur says:

    Accepting my mistake, even if my mistake is small and the other person’s mistake is bigger, it helps a lot to instill a good feeling in him, because projecting and justifying always leads us to a dead end in our conversations, honest explanation and sincere conversation with each other so that the feeling of security and improvement is felt for the person. Giving and not feeling guilty or judged is very helpful

    Reply
  2. Bahar aghamiri
    Bahar aghamiri says:

    Many problems in relationships are due to the fact that both parties cannot talk to each other about their problems and desires. Talking with an inappropriate tone, labeling, insulting and humiliating causes discomfort and distance between couples, so it is necessary to improve the skills Let’s improve our quality of life

    Reply
  3. ساناز سعادتی
    ساناز سعادتی says:

    Some people begin their unhappiness with criticism and blaming. Blame and humiliation are fatal factors that remain in the mind of the other party and cause emotional distance between the two parties

    Reply
  4. mohammad parsa younesi
    mohammad parsa younesi says:

    in my opinion. both side in a relationship should have the capacity of acceptance. this behavior prevents problems in a romantic relationship. if partners could entitle each other some times then they are going to have a better relationship.

    Reply
  5. ghazal moulayi poor
    ghazal moulayi poor says:

    Communication in a relationship is critical. Clear communication works best. Be honest, but polite, about what you want to say. Think before you say it. When talking about things: Do not blame the person. This will make them defensive and tend to yell. Do not bring up old arguments. Leave the past in the past. Talk when you are calm and you are not stressed out. If you begin to get agitated, say something like “I am too angry to talk now, but I will be back in an hour to talk more about this.” Then leave, take a walk, get an ice cream, do something.

    Reply
  6. Fatemeh Ebrahimi
    Fatemeh Ebrahimi says:

    Talking about problems, if both people in the relationship have the necessary knowledge and are focused on their own problems, not the margins, paves 90% of the way to continue the relationship.

    Reply
  7. Fatemeh akbaripoor
    Fatemeh akbaripoor says:

    In my opinion, it is very important for both parties to understand each other in improving relationships. It is very important to try to be calm when angry, listen to each other’s words and make the right decision, because many problems can be solved by talking and listening properly.

    Reply
  8. Rozhan Khajehvandi
    Rozhan Khajehvandi says:

    Talking about the mistakes,if the person is a little bit dramatic,it would be hard. Because you need to be careful about what you say,what tone are you saying and how are you talking.
    In all cases we need to be sure we are polite with our partner but in cases which the person is drama queen…we need to be reassure.

    Reply
  9. parsa younesi
    parsa younesi says:

    in my opinion it is really important in a relationship to accept your mistakes and apologize for them and try not to do them again. this topics helps couples to have a healthy relationship.

    Reply
  10. iliyamojir
    iliyamojir says:

    Unfortunately, one of the strategies for facing the problems of cohabitation is concealment. Especially for men who prefer to avoid arguments than to face them. This is a mistake that often leads to more curiosity on the part of the other party who had no role in solving the current problem. To compensate for this problem, both husband and wife should be involved and even a counselor can help in this field.

    Reply
  11. Atro soleymani
    Atro soleymani says:

    Unfortunately, many people do not know how to get into relationships and sometimes they hurt each other on purpose, especially teenagers who get into wrong relationships because of their age and sometimes suffer great damage from small incidents.

    Reply
  12. Mona mollakazemi
    Mona mollakazemi says:

    One of the most dangerous stages that may occur in an emotional relationship is the stage of silence. Some people may think that by talking, the relationship will become a place of war, but not talking will make the relationship worse.

    Reply
  13. Mohadese salimzade
    Mohadese salimzade says:

    Hello, the article was excellent and I think that many wives have separated because of this reason. In every relationship there are quarrels and annoyances, but the most important thing is that the dignity and respect between husband and wife is not lost and they can give me a chance. Let them talk together about the smallest issue that they are upset about, don’t let these upsets accumulate and tell me in a fight. In my opinion, dialogue is always a useful solution for a stable relationship.

    Reply
  14. Nasim vafaii
    Nasim vafaii says:

    No relationship has been, is, or will be ideal and flawless. It’s just that sometimes some problems may remain for many years and bring long-term discomfort with them. Unfortunately, in such cases, instead of raising the tension-causing factor with their partner, people turn to complaining and protesting to others. In some cases, this issue turns into a regular habit that they think they want to release their internal tensions, but they don’t know that they are indirectly fueling the cooling of their relationship.

    Reply
  15. فاطمه سرحدی
    فاطمه سرحدی says:

    The parties in the relationship sometimes have problems. In order to solve the problems, they must respect each other’s opinion, be honest and truthful with each other and put their emotions into practice. Fateme Sarhadi from Iranian University

    Reply
  16. Zahra bahram
    Zahra bahram says:

    Every person has his own problems and may make mistakes, especially in his emotional life. Two people who love each other may sometimes forget or not understand each other, which in itself causes them to drift apart, so every couple should try to understand their partner.

    Reply
  17. Sahel nafary
    Sahel nafary says:

    Sometimes two people who are in an emotional relationship with each other should try to understand each other regardless of their gender, intellectual and situation differences and listen to each other’s words and accept each other. In order to maintain a good relationship, couples should talk to each other and heal each other’s wounds and repair the relationship.
    Committing to the relationship, being responsible in the relationship, forgiving and listening to your partner can make this path continue in a completely better way.

    Reply
  18. Omid Takook
    Omid Takook says:

    Omid Takook

    As the student of the Feeling and Perception Course on Fridays at 12:30, my opinion and comment about this essay is:

    In sure the relationships in life are very important, and the romantic relationship is one of the most important one, and keep it healthy is one of the most aspects which is under the influence of co-reflecting as one of the best ways to improve it toward a better relationship.
    Co-reflecting is an important aspect of healthy romantic relationships that requires active effort from both partners to cultivate.
    It can help couples deepen their emotional connection and strengthen their relationship by fostering intimacy, communication, and understanding. It can also help them navigate challenges and conflicts more effectively by promoting empathy and compassion.
    It is a process in which two individuals in a romantic relationship mirror each other’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It involves being attuned to one another’s needs and feelings and responding in a way that validates and supports the other person.

    Reply
  19. Omid Takook
    Omid Takook says:

    Omid Takook

    As the student of the Feeling and Perception Course on Fridays at 12:30, my opinion and comment about this essay is:

    In sure the relationships in life are very important, and the romantic relationship is one of the most important one, and keep it healthy is one of the most aspects which is under the influence of co-reflecting as one of the best ways to improve it toward a better relationship.
    Co-reflecting is an important aspect of healthy romantic relationships that requires active effort from both partners to cultivate.
    It can help couples deepen their emotional connection and strengthen their relationship by fostering intimacy, communication, and understanding. It can also help them navigate challenges and conflicts more effectively by promoting empathy and compassion.
    It is a process in which two individuals in a romantic relationship mirror each other’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It involves being attuned to one another’s needs and feelings and responding in a way that validates and supports the other person.

    Reply
  20. Omid Takook
    Omid Takook says:

    As a student of the Feeling and Perception Course on Fridays at 12:30, my opinion and comment about this essay is:

    In sure the relationships in life are very important, and the romantic relationship is one of the most important one, and keep it healthy is one of the most aspects which is under the influence of co-reflecting as one of the best ways to improve it toward a better relationship.
    Co-reflecting is an important aspect of healthy romantic relationships that requires active effort from both partners to cultivate.
    It can help couples deepen their emotional connection and strengthen their relationship by fostering intimacy, communication, and understanding. It can also help them navigate challenges and conflicts more effectively by promoting empathy and compassion.
    It is a process in which two individuals in a romantic relationship mirror each other’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It involves being attuned to one another’s needs and feelings and responding in a way that validates and supports the other person.

    Reply
  21. Omid Takook
    Omid Takook says:

    Omid Takook
    As the student of the Feeling and Perception Course on Fridays at 12:30, my opinion and comment about this essay is:

    In sure the relationships in life are very important, and the romantic relationship is one of the most important one, and keep it healthy is one of the most aspects which is under the influence of co-reflecting as one of the best ways to improve it toward a better relationship.
    Co-reflecting is an important aspect of healthy romantic relationships that requires active effort from both partners to cultivate.
    It can help couples deepen their emotional connection and strengthen their relationship by fostering intimacy, communication, and understanding. It can also help them navigate challenges and conflicts more effectively by promoting empathy and compassion.
    It is a process in which two individuals in a romantic relationship mirror each other’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It involves being attuned to one another’s needs and feelings and responding in a way that validates and supports the other person.

    Reply
  22. kimia aghabeygi
    kimia aghabeygi says:

    Hi Professor, in my opinion, to solve and express problems, it is better to first listen carefully to what the other person is feeling, then try to think and talk to each other when we are both calm.

    Reply
  23. chenarani
    chenarani says:

    In this joint journey that the couple travels together, it is very important to repair the common pain because if it is not treated, it will turn into a deep and deadly pain, maybe the only solution is to pass the years of living together. It is easier to go through with empathy and thinking. Rumination is really like a poison that slowly destroys a person. In my opinion, it is not harmful to think about a bitter experience to the extent that we can learn from it or pass it on in our mind, but if It becomes a constant mental challenge, it takes energy and motivation, and maybe if this is a bitter experience in married life, it diminishes the interest and feelings for the other party. It is better if I think about a problem to solve it, not to rummage and poison the mind. which may spread to the heart and soul

    Reply
  24. Farzaneh jornabian
    Farzaneh jornabian says:

    The article was very excellent and practical. I think there are fights and arguments in every relationship, but it is important that the parties face each other and give each other a chance.

    Reply
  25. Marzieh Hezbi
    Marzieh Hezbi says:

    Definitely, many spouses have separated from each other for this reason, it was a very interesting article!

    Reply
  26. Marzieh Hezbi
    Marzieh Hezbi says:

    Hello , In any romantic relationship, the most important issue is talking and sharing opinions and feelings.

    Reply
  27. Marzieh Hezbi
    Marzieh Hezbi says:

    Hello , I am Marzieh Hezbi from Iranian University, dear teacher, I believe that dialogue between couples always solves problems and resolves misunderstandings. We should not resist him, it is better to respect his opinions.

    Reply
  28. Marzieh Hezbi
    Marzieh Hezbi says:

    I am Marzieh Hezbi from Iranian University, dear teacher, I believe that dialogue between couples always solves problems and resolves misunderstandings. We should not resist him, it is better to respect his opinions.

    Reply
  29. Atena soleimani
    Atena soleimani says:

    It was very good especially for those who are in a relationship to learn how to talk about their problems and mistakes with each other.

    Reply
  30. Fatemeh khorsand fard
    Fatemeh khorsand fard says:

    Hello professor, good time
    In my opinion, when spouses talk about their mistakes, they should pay attention to some issues. For example, if the other party of the relationship talks about his mistak, let him explain his reasons, and to recount his mistakes, measure the situation and react. Accept the other side and try not to repeat our mistake.
    Thank you for your useful content.

    Reply
  31. Nazila Farajzade
    Nazila Farajzade says:

    hi
    in my idea couple should try to be a critical person and accept mistakes,then they can talk about it.

    Reply
  32. Zhina Alikhani
    Zhina Alikhani says:

    The ability to talk and listen correctly is one of the basic principles of entering into a relationship.

    Reply
  33. Niloofar Nikooie
    Niloofar Nikooie says:

    Dr. Malihi,
    Thank you for sharing this article.
    According to the article, when couples co-reflect with acknowledgment, acceptance and support, there would be a better chance to work problems out.

    Reply
  34. Zahra choopanbishe
    Zahra choopanbishe says:

    The content and article were very useful and practical
    If all couples and people who are in an emotional relationship observe these things, most of their problems in their relationships will be solved

    Reply
  35. Hasti Razzazchian
    Hasti Razzazchian says:

    It was a very informative article!

    I think in all relationships it would be better to realize that something could be considered as a big issue for our partner while it can be recognized a normal behavior for the other person depends on behavioral characteristics and the way they have been grown up.
    Admitting mistakes by expressing our true feeling and trying to not repeat it again can help both parties to have a better and peaceful relationship.

    Reply
  36. Maryam farajkhah
    Maryam farajkhah says:

    Hi professor always speaking reducesproblems if a couple talks to each other about any issue in a friendly and controls thier nerves and gives each other the opportunity to express their opinion they can control every thing to a large extent. reduce the negative burden of problems

    Reply
  37. Maryam farajkhah
    Maryam farajkhah says:

    Hi professor always speaking negatively reduces if a couple talks to each other about any issue in a friendly and controls thier nerves and gives each other the opportunity to express their opinion they can control every thing to a large extent. reduce the negative burden of problems

    Reply
  38. Elika Khodadi
    Elika Khodadi says:

    It was a very useful and practical article, especially for those who have just entered a relationship and are not yet comfortable enough to talk about their personal decisions and mistakes with the other person.

    Reply
  39. Masoumeh Ashoury
    Masoumeh Ashoury says:

    Talking about mistakes can make a difference in how a couple feels. For this reason, when our spouse talks about his mistake, we should not immediately take our guard and let him explain the reason for his mistake, and if we ourselves have made a mistake, we should first consider the feelings and mood of the other party and accept the reaction that he shows himself. Accept our mistake and try to make up for it and not repeat it.

    Reply
  40. nasrin shojaee
    nasrin shojaee says:

    I believe that if the couple in the situation of discomfort to express their words and grievances keep in mind who is facing them, they have solved some of the problem.
    Sometimes we put ourselves in the position of the other party.
    And let’s consider this difference in people’s moods and behavior.And let’s consider this difference in people’s moods and behavior.

    Reply
  41. Setarerezaei
    Setarerezaei says:

    Hi. It was an interesting article gave the couple’s complete information on the differences and feelings of the couple. thank you

    Reply
  42. Setare rezaei
    Setare rezaei says:

    Hi. It was an interesting article gave the couple’s complete information on the differences and feelings of the couple. thank you

    Reply
  43. mahnaz nouruzi
    mahnaz nouruzi says:

    Asking for forgiveness after a wrongdoing is a way to show respect to others and also foster honesty. There are mistakes for which you can never expect forgiveness. But in most cases, asking for compensation can be a powerful way to show a good cause

    Reply
  44. Mohadeseh khan mirzaie
    Mohadeseh khan mirzaie says:

    Hello, dear professor
    In my idea
    Talking about mistakes in a romantic relationship can be difficult, but it’s important for both partners to feel heard and understood. One way to approach the conversation is to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, instead of saying “You always forget to take out the trash,” say “I feel frustrated when the trash isn’t taken out.” This way, the focus is on how the behavior affects you, rather than blaming the other person. It’s also important to actively listen to your partner’s perspective and show empathy. Apologizing, making a plan for the future, and forgiving each other can also help repair the relationship after a mistake has been made.

    Reply
  45. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi,I finished reading this article now,it was really interesting that three ways of dealing with interpersonal problems have such an effect on relationships differently .co-reflection is really important according to this article.it helps to identify the problems and solve them together in a relationship.

    Reply
  46. Shirin farrokh
    Shirin farrokh says:

    I think conflict is inevitable in any relationship, but to keep a relationship strong, both people need to feel heard. The goal is not to win, but to maintain and strengthen the relationship.

    Reply

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