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My Husband Never Apologizes! (Or Does He?)

Updated on October 8, 2013

It's Hard to Say "I'm Sorry."

When we have done something wrong, the last thing we need is to feel harassed about it. In fact, the more we feel attacked, the likelier we are to dig in our heels and try to justify the reasons we acted as we did. Somehow, this almost never works.

If you find yourself wishing your partner would just apologize so the argument would end, here are some tips that can help you avoid those battles by recognizing a genuine apology - including when your partner won't say the words, "I'm sorry."

Apologies are usually needed to heal minor damage after a misunderstanding or thoughtless moment. Sometimes, however, damage can happen when two people are incompatible or when abuse exists. No amount of apology will fix abusive or incompatible relationships.

When your partner has been insensitive in some way, consider whether he or she might not have understood that you'd be hurt by their actions. Sometimes we assume others "should" know to behave in a certain way, but this kind of thinking doesn't work. Very few people are mind-readers. You can fix this kind of situation the first time it happens with a simple statement: "I was hurt by your thoughtless remark. Please don't let it happen again."

Your partner may or may not apologize. Don't ask for or wait for one, though, because you'll see whether they are apologetic through their future actions. If you find that they continue to say hurtful things, you may be seeing incompatibility or abusive behavior.

Apologies Mean Different Things to Men and Women

For women, apologies are a social nicety, a way of acknowledging a minor inconvenience we might have caused by accident. Sure, some are more serious than others, but since we are used to saying "I'm sorry" for trivial mishaps, the words are just... words.

Men, on the other hand, experience something completely different! Raised to be competitors who can't show weakness without getting kicked off the team, so to speak, the words, apologies feel like failure - something that makes him "less of a man."

If you're a woman trying to understand your reticent husband, son, boss, or another guy who doesn't apologize, consider for yourself which is harder:

A) Apologizing to a stranger for bumping into them in a supermarket checkout line.

B) Apologizing to your husband for accidentally running over your pet with your car.

In both cases, you're apologizing, but which one is harder to do? Would you spend more time figuring out just the right words, or waiting until the right moment, for one but not the other? If you're a man, every apology may feel like the "B" apology.

Healing Without Apology?

Why Won't He Just Say Sorry?

Often, a person who recognizes that you didn't like something they did will feel too vulnerable to say so. Instead, they'll make a gesture of reconciliation. They may do something they think will please you to show you that you're important to them. By acknowledging their effort, you can demonstrate that you understand.

Here's an example: Recently my husband made a thoughtless remark in front of other people. I felt hurt, and immediately said, "I didn't like that remark." Instead of apologizing, he defended his actions.

Rather than engaging in an argument, I decided to give him (and myself) space by not trying to talk to him. In fact, being the hotheaded type that I am, it was clear that I was not going to speak to him until I calmed down.

As it happened, our disagreement took place just a couple of hours before bedtime, and the only thing I said to him the rest of the evening was "Goodnight."

I stayed up for a while after he went to sleep. (I told you I have a temper myself, right? I still hadn't cooled down.) An hour or so later, I decided to crawl into bed. As I opened the bedroom door, I discovered he'd left a light on so I could see my way, even though he prefers to sleep in the dark.

He left for work before I awakened, and when he called me the next morning, I said, "Thank you for leaving the light on. That was nice. And I accept your apology."

Huh? He never said he was sorry!

Actually, he showed it instead of using the words. When I made that bold statement on the phone, he replied, "Yeah, sorry about that." His tone was casual, about the same as if he'd bumped into a stranger in the checkout line.

Disagreement? Check.

Apology? Check.

Lingering resentment? Not a chance.

How do you know when your partner's apology is genuine?

See results


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    My husband won't apologize. He has even told me he thinks it is good to learn from mistakes but rarely to admit to them. The problem is he keeps making the same ones in our relationship without changing, apologizing, or admiting/acknowleging. I appreciate the insight as to why men may find it harder to apologize but regardless it does lead to bad feelings. I used to apologize more for things to him and that made things worse over time. It was like he saw it as weakness in a way and started to expect apologies and me to take blame for things more and more. His primary reaction when I think we both know he behaved in a hurtful way or made a mistake is to try to turn it around on me or alternatively bring up other events that he can say are things I did wrong. Sometimes with a hostile energy which as I prefer conflict avoidance makes me withdraw or shut down. It makes meaningful understanding and conflict resolution pretty impossible and over time becomes more and more toxic as never resolved issues /experiences / resentments pile up.

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from USA

    Thank you for stopping by TeeC, and for your comment. I've been meaning to update this article because you've hit on something important that I neglected to mention - what it is that makes men so apology avoidant. I'm updating now to touch on this, because there's actually a very good reason that he doesn't apologize to you!

    Still, what you said about apologies just being empty words unless it's followed up by actual change is very true! Change without the words will usually satisfy us women if we are reasonable, but words without change? That's a whole 'nother situation!

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    I believe sincere apologies don't have to be asked for, or guilted into.

    Apologies should include clear proof that they understand the offense and as such, the basis for the apology. To me, that makes the difference between an apology and a "sorry". An apology means that I know what I did wrong, I understand why it was wrong, and I want to let you know I regret hurting you. "Sorry" means anything from "you're offended but I still don't feel like what I did was wrong so I'll just say this to get you off my back but I don’t mean it” to “what I said/did was just fine, so I’m only making amends for the fact you were offended, not for actually doing anything wrong”.

    My husband seems to need to be guilted into apologizing. I hate it--especially when he calls himself a Christian man. He said something really heinous to me yesterday, and that evening he came in the house, stood next to me and said, “If anything I said yesterday was offensive to you, I apologize. I’m sorry I hurt you.” Okay. That’s great—but do you know what you said that was so wrong and hurtful? If you don’t then save your words, because you’ll just do it again.

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

    Thanks for stopping by, Earthy Mother! I know exactly what you mean, lol! When I stopped worrying about hearing it, it became a conscious thing where I started watching to see what happened if I just didn't ask or wait for an apology, and I discovered that when I stopped worrying about it, nice things happened instead, which is good enough for me.

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

    Thanks everyone, for reading and commenting! My husband today apologizes, but I once married a guy who never did, and I remember how hurt I felt by that! If I'd known then what I know today, I don't think I'd have felt so...ignored!

  • Earthy Mother profile image

    Nicole Forman 

    6 years ago from South East England

    Hmm...this is interesting...I never get an apology from my partner and i always think I'm backing down and 'losing' the row by letting him get away with it as such...this has made me think maybe it's just his way. We're both stubborn and things tend to be worse than they need to be because of this...I will bear this article in mind in future! Thanks!

  • theraggededge profile image

    Bev G 

    6 years ago from Wales, UK

    Mine always apologizes, either directly or by offering to make a cup of tea. He apologizes even when it isn't his fault - he can't sleep if there's tension, whereas I can give the silent treatment for years!

  • Riverfish24 profile image


    6 years ago from United States

    Its hard to get an apology from husbands, but I think most instead do the right things thereafter, just like you mentioned about 'leaving the light on'..not sure why,but I guess action is louder than words for men. Probably we women need to recognize that and not expect a statement of apology per se.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    great person! at least he is trying to realize what he did

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 

    6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    My husband is one that rarely will apologize on the spot. But usually after I explain to him what upset me he will think about it and then the apology comes.


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