It happens in every relationship.
You say something, and there’s an awkward silence. Tension descends. Something’s wrong. You don’t know what. He looks away. His mouth is tight.
Fear hits you in the gut. You’re losing him! You can’t let that happen.
What you do next tells him if this is going to be a relationship like every other…
Or if it’s going to be the one that upends everything he thought was true about love.
So what do you do when that awkward moment happens? When you notice that something you said hit him the wrong way, but you’re not sure why?
Maybe you backtrack. You keep talking, trying to rephrase the sentence or explain yourself. You talk and talk and talk until you get some reaction out of him, any reaction. Then you see him smile, and you breathe a sigh of relief. Phew … crisis over.
There’s an alternative:
And face up.
“I feel like I said the wrong thing there. That wasn’t my intention.”
How often do you think he hears that?
Not enough, that’s for sure.
Apologies are tricky. Research shows that women say sorry a lot more than men. But it’s not always for good reasons. Many women apologize for things that don’t require an apology, such as getting bumped, being offended, or taking longer to do something than expected.
When you apologize too much for trivial things, “sorry” loses its meaning.
On the other side of the spectrum, some people reserve their “sorry” for times when it really matters. It goes without saying that an apology is required after a major mistake. But most of us don’t make major mistakes that often. We can get out of the habit of saying sorry, which makes it awkward when we do have to apologize.
There’s a third way to use apologies, one that you don’t hear much about:
To acknowledge how he’s feeling.
When you acknowledge that tense or uncomfortable moment out loud, something magical happens.
He sees that you’re not going to pretend nothing happened. He sees that you’re in tune with him, because you’ve noticed his change in mood. And he sees that you care enough to stop and acknowledge his distress.
Again, wow! That’s not something that happens often.
We let too many small moments of discomfort pass by, because we don’t want to draw attention to them.
You don’t really want to know what made his face go cold and his body shift slightly away from you. It can only be bad news.
But, by sticking your head in the sand, you’re not getting crucial information. You need to know what’s going through his head, even if you’re sure you won’t like it. By showing him you’re available to listen, you’re demonstrating that you can take negative feedback.
I know. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. But it’s not, and here’s why.
Relationships are not built on happy experiences alone. They’re forged through pain as well as joy. When a couple goes through a difficult experience together and comes out the other side, their bond is exponentially stronger.
There are difficult moments in every relationship. But most couples let those opportunities slip by. Instead of opening up, being vulnerable, and really listening to one another, they pretend they can’t see what’s going on.
It takes incredible bravery to acknowledge a misstep. Putting yourself forward like that is a game-changer. It creates immediate intimacy. It lays the foundation for trust and respect. It signals to him that this is a woman who’s not like the rest.
So, the next time you notice him shutting down, don’t panic. Do something different. Pause and take a deep breath. Feel the magic of the moment. And speak your heart.
Will he be startled? Maybe.
Will he be honest back? Maybe.
But what you’ve done is set the standard. In this relationship, you’re not going to hide from difficult feelings. You’re going to acknowledge them. You’re going to give them space to breathe.
That’s how solid relationships are built, one honest truth at a time.
I am finally in a relationship losing my husband 6yrs ago and I am with my 1st love this article really hit home with me I am glad to have read it
And i forgot to mention, i have been married for 17 years to this man…. Who didnt like my kitchen area…. Lol
Ever since i bought your programs, i have been trying to apply your wonder advice into my marriage, and it has caused some very hilarious moments! U see, i am NOT used to having my husbands help in the kitchen, and lately, he loves to help me in the kitchen! And i get so distracted by him being in there, flustered!… That i make every mistake i possibly could! So to all u women out there… Avoid using a sieve when your man starts hanging out in your kitchen…. I tend to make alot of mistakes with that stupid thing when my husband is around???????????? My husband asked me, “why am i in the kitchen all the time lately?” He couldnt figure out what was drawing him there…. I know though… It was ME???? ???? i wanna thank you James for your kind heart and sharing this incredible information with us women! You should make a new law, that before any man gets married ,they gotta tie your program around their knecks for the women gettin married to them… Like an instruction manual … That would be very helpful for all women out there!! ????
Anna, you just made my day. Thanks for that.
You’re welcome:) And with your help my marriage has improved ALOT already! Thank you for sharing this precious information:) if i had had this insight years ago, it could have saved me 17 years of headaches & heartaches because thats all marriage ever was. But now, i finally see hope for a happy life together with my wonderful husband. Thank you James! Your info is a must-have for every woman out there!
Thank you for such a useful insightful article.
I always learn a lot from you ????
Cannot thank you enough! ❤️
You’re welcome. Thank you for your support!
Very sound advice, James. I wish I’d been readier to behave as you recommend more often in the past – mostly the long ago past. I can’t relive those times but I can be more aware of my possible “boo-boos” in future.
Good job. I believe women worry too much about visual appearance and forget what is imortant for good relations. By the way, I’ m woman too and I try, work hard on that. For me, not for impressing someone. Thank you!
I would think honesty is the best way.. This very thing happened to me and I did sit and looked into his eyes as he was going to leave and told him.. my thoughts and that I could see where had was coming from.. I saw the awkward sentence or something I said from his point of view! It was amazing.. I even told him that if he wanted to go thst I understood.. I could see the Shock in his eyes.. It was a more perfect moment th San we had ever had before!
Thank you James, that was the best piece of relationship advice I’ve ever been given.
I thought getting closer was about opening up about oneself, and a willingness to be vulnerable, but this takes it a step further. Instead of feeling embarrassed or ashamed in an awkward moment, don’t ignore it, use it as an opportunity to set yourself apart. I agree, it sets the standard and hopefully grow the relationship.