Non-Rhetorical Question: How Can I Apologize Before I Remember What Happened?

Hello Everyone,

First, I just want to say "thank you" to everyone who has responded to my posts on other topics.  Even if I didn't have time to respond to everyone, please know that you all are helping me a lot!  No one on the "outside" understands what it is like to be in an ADHD marriage (or at least no one I know).  I am more grateful than you'll ever know :).

Naturally, I have another question to pose to you.  I legitimately do not know how to apologize to my husband when he tells me I have either done something/not done something that makes him angry or hurt and I have zero recollection of it.   After an accusation, I used to immediately argue with him that I didn't do it & didn't remember it so I couldn't have possibly have done it (go ahead and laugh at me non-ADHD spouses; I get it now;)!).  I rarely have that reaction now, unless he's on the attack, and then it's a 50/50 toss.  So my new way of approaching this is to say, "I'll take your word for it.  I don't remember doing it, but I know that doesn't mean anything."

I then try to process it and try to recall because at that point, an apology seems insincere as I don't feel contrite until I have some memory of actually having done what he's told me I must have done.  When I tell him I'll take his word for it, this seems to make him even angrier.  I do need to talk to him about it when we both have some time and ask him what kind of apology would be sufficient in his mind.  He clearly has some idea of what he doesn't want, and presumably of what he is actually seeking, but has yet to communicate that to me.

*I am so distracted right now by autosave going off every 5 seconds ...Need... to... focus :(!*

O.K.  I'm now trying to look at the ceiling while I type so I can concentrate. 

When my husband gets angrier following my beginning  (understand this is not a true apology yet) to assume responsibility, I do start getting defensive.  If he would just let me process, I'm sure I could say that even though I'm not always certain of what I did, it is reasonable to propose that I did based on my ADHD symptoms, and then a true apology with true regret could follow.  I just need a few minutes.  He claims that I don't and the answer should be readily apparent and that there is nothing to process.  Where am I going astray?  Is it unreasonable for me to need to process first, and apologize later?  Does it matter if I apologize but don't "feel it?" As is usually the case with us, the actual reason for the fight is not generally earth-shattering;  I just have no idea how to handle it. 


Non's out there, what kind of apology would make you feel better in situations where your spouse has no memory of the alleged incident?  How would you want it to be handled?  Have you and your spouse come to a resolution on this topic.  I know it drives the Non's crazy when we argue and memories.  Only when I started having the same type of issues with my son and he was arguing with his Dad and me did I see the error of my ways.  Just don't know how to disengage.



P.S.  I do ultimately end up apologizing, simply AFTER I've at least partially processed and/or recalled the actual event (unless I have a legitimate reason not to).  We just detour while he gets angry and I get defensive while simultaneously trying to process (a beautiful combination... arghhh).

While i was reading, i was

While i was reading, i was trying to remember an argument where i was so angry for something that was said. There was one where I told him what to do so it would halt my anger from getting higher... i told him immediately to "take it back!". I remember being absolutely stunned that stuff came out of his mouth. As a matter of fact, i have been holding on to another extrememly hurtful thing he said and i cant let it go because it was so evil. He meant it and i cant get over it. those are the ones where i think adhd can not be to blame. apologies almost mean nothing now. The personal attacks are not necessary. This is where i fall back to "i want to be with a grown up" and just give up. I dont think i really answered your question though. This is Mainly for in the heat of the moment. I think for an event... I just had one and asked him to just listen to the event, not to defend or respond and he defended and responded about 4 different times and i still wont know if it made sense until it happens again.... Asking for him to "just listen and not say anything" for the immediate moment seems to stop the "automatic fight/defend" urge... This worked a long time ago when i needed for him to see a "pattern of behavior" and it worked... It took about 6-9 months, but he finally saw it.

Hi PJ, I'm sorry that your DH

Hi PJ,

I'm sorry that your DH said something so awful.  It sounds like it was very hurtful, and I agree that malice is not an ADHD symptom (though the impulsivity to say what he's thinking in his darkest moment might be, NOT that that is an excuse).  But yeah, ADHD or not, anyone with a mouth can be horrible to another human being.

I don't generally have the particular issue of not apologizing in the heat of the moment about what I've said, specifically because I have been working really hard on it and I now recognize my short-term memory and ability to sequence events is lacking.  If I said something truly offensive, I would remember it because it really a boundary for me that I don't like being treated meanly, so I try not to be mean.

My husband has also worked very hard with me to get me to "stop talking" and reacting, and I have been working hard to keep my mouth shut and listen almost never interrupt anymore (woo-hoo).  Sometimes it is so difficult because of his approach and tendency to lecture at length, so he has been trying to curtail the length of his soliloquies ;).

Yep, i was wondering if in

Yep, i was wondering if in fact it is a boundary issue or a character flaw. I really admire your indepth look for answers and your ability to "see" what is actually going on in your mind. Although i hear you when you say you dont remember the events - does he let days and days go by and then bring it up? Or does it happen and within minutes talk it out? I could see not remembering if it happened yesterday or the day before. My dh has an excellent memory until he goes all defensive and in attack mode. I know damn well he has to pull the negative comment out of long term memory to fling his shots at me too. Which is unexcuseable. That is character! That is a bully. That is trying to control me by belittling me and trying to hurt me to make the focus get off him for whatever his problem was at the time. Just plain immature... That is why i dont always buy the adhd excuse. Sometimes i think he does it because i will get flustered and stop or i will get flustered and tell him what a "jerk" i think he is so he can go have a poor me episode.... Which deflects the entire problem. He is the master. Always turning on the dramatics for his poor poor me dramasode. Im just sick of the drama. The best part is , now he is really trying... After 10 years of this chaos and i'm supposed to be thankful he is trying.... Well, I'm a lucky girl... Extremely lucky if it is in fact character, because no amount of help or pills will fix that. : )

Hey PJ, No, he doesn't "let"

Hey PJ,

No, he doesn't "let" days go by before approaching me, at least not on purpose.  When I'm at fault, it is usually something I did when I was on autopilot and had no clue what I was doing, like misplacing something because I got distracted, which in some manner causes him concern, aggravation, or inconvenience (just an example, not the only type of issue).  He informs me as soon as he realizes what is wrong.  If during a conversation, I forget what I've said and contradict myself, or if I've already forgotten something we've agreed upon, I generally apologize immediately.  He was there, so he's probably right.  However, when days do go by, and no one has (consciously ;)) witnessed whatever purportedly happened, that's when I really need the time to process.  That's a great question, just like Gardener's.  It really helps me to figure out what the problem is.

Thanks and have a good night!

First, i need to apologize

First, i need to apologize for my cranky reply above. I have been in a hostile mood lately. I was thinking a little more about what i do to prevent these little misunderstandings that seemed to happen so frequently. I decided that i need to be responsible for me, my stuff, and anticipate a problem before hand to prevent it from happening in the first place. It has taken the pressure off immensly. He doesnt irritate me by taking something or doing something that i have pre-empted. For example, I keep my glass of soda with me, i tell him that i'm still drinking it if i see him come close to it, and i ask him to not throw it away. If something happens to it after all that, then i wasnt quick enough. I just got tired of all the bs when i could have prevented it in the first place. A couple weeks ago, we had to take the kids somewhere and i made the mistake of not looking up the directions and taking the directions he left for me... Well, it was an unpleasant ride and i only had myself to blame because had I taken the time, i would have mapped out my own directions and not have had a problem. I'm asking for my independence back. There was an issue the other day where he took control of a situation that i wasnt consulted on and i asked him to please let me decide what i want to do and to allow me the freedom to choose for me. It wasnt a mean conversation, it was just please focus on you and i will focus on me. Not sure what your dh does or if he has thought about it, but he can minimize some of his frustrations IF the conditions are right. Not all of them, but some. Wasnt he the one that was upset about the throwing away of the newspaper? I cant remember who posted? (see, i cant remember everything either). Only human. And getting old.. : ) now, i'm not suggesting you tell him to do it himself, because that would make him feel bad, but it takes the pressure off of a lot of tiny little things that add up.

I really appreciate the question

I LOVE these types of questions because to me this is getting to the meat of actual AD/HD issues.  Some of the rest of it is really just dealing with a crappy personality.....ADD or non that is no fun to deal with & honestly aside from counselling none of us are equipped to handle those kinds of issues.  These kinds we can share experiences and no one gets hurt :)

My husband and I have the memory issue as I believe I have mentioned that his is pretty bad.  I think because his is so bad and in general mine is so good, that this is an automatic button for me when he starts taking a stand for how he remembers things.  I assume most ADD couples have this as a button too, so that immediately means DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!  TREAD CAREFULLY!

I honestly can't see myself having as much of a problem with him not remembering things if he didn't get defensive and convinced that his memory of the issue was correct.  We are working on this, but to me that is the vibe you want to avoid with your non AT ALL COSTS.

In the scenario you mentioned there is something that rubs me the wrong way about your phrase "I'll take your word for it.  I don't remember doing it, but I know that doesn't mean anything."  I am not sure why but maybe it is the same thing that is irritating your husband.  It comes across somehow as condescending...and maybe defeatist at the same time??  I can't quite put my finger on it, and I am sure you do not mean it that way, but something about it automatically I don't like.


I think when it comes to ADD and apologies you immediately come up against the "Apologies mean nothing until you change the actions" and "I am SICK of hearing I'm sorry".  I think for me the first thing I want to hear is "I am soo sorry that you are feeling upset/hurt/angry over my not remembering our conversation/decision/plans."  Depending on how well I take this statement, and generally I take it pretty well, a continuation similar to this might work  "I hope you know I'd never do this on purpose, but honestly I'm still a bit in the dark.  Can you tell me where we had this conversation or some of the details so I can try to remember?"   Or if you aren't comfortable asking for help remembering then just a "I'm trying to remember the situation, I just need a couple minutes" works well with me.

I think why these apologies sometimes don't work is because immediately the intent starts getting mentioned like "Why are you so upset? I didn't do it on purpose!"  That goes right into defending yourself mode like I'm-sorry-your-mad-but-you-really-shouldn't-be-mad-anyway-cause-I-didn't-mean-it.  To me that is making it about you and your intent more than the feelings of the person you hurt.  I think empathizing with how the other person feels and taking yourself a bit more out of the equation is good.

As far as apologizing when you have no idea what you are apologizing for and not remember the convo, I tend to agree that would feel a bit empty to you and probably also to him.  I think apologizing for the hurt that another person feels is always appropriate, especially in a marriage.  But I think it is reasonable to make sure of what happened/you've done before you apologize for it.   Honestly, it doesn't happen a LOT, but I've been angry about something that it turns out I was wrong about and my husband had it right :)  No need to assume it is ALWAYS your problem, but if either person is upset, then in my opinion something needs to be done to resolve it ASAP.

It is TOTALLY unfair though for your husband to get to decide the timing of your processing.  At some point you just have to say "Hey Buddy I am not you, and you are going to have to let me process the way my brain processes.  Nothing either of us can do will change this" 

One of my favorite quotes is "If both of us were exactly alike, then one of us is unnecessary".  Never let anyone put out the vibe that because you have ADD, you have less to offer to the world or to your family.  Your feelings and emotions and way of thinking should be taken equally into account........and this is not always easy for the non.  My husband is inattentive and waiting for him to think through his options to make a decision in a convo........sheesh I feel like hours of my life have ticked by waiting for this to happen, which believe me is part of why it is so infuriating when he can't remember it a few days later.....I mean he processed it like the Gettysburg Address was about to come out (but I digress).   I don't have to like it, but I am 100% wrong if I think I have the right to tell him he has to think different or answer me differently or it has to be in my timeframe....I might LIKE that sometimes :)  but no one has the right to expect it.

I think nons sometimes try to steamroll over the ADD person at times saying, "you think wrong. do it this way/my way/more efficiently"  Nothing wrong with saying "BACK THE HECK UP!  You are encroaching now".  We used to fight about this type of issue, and my husband was just unreasonably defensive over the most unimportant, ridiculous issues.  When i asked him what the heck his problem was protecting such an unimportant thought, he said " I AM TRYING TO PROTECT MY THOUGHTS"  Like they were under attack.........and then I realized that sometimes they were OOOOPPS   You can challenge the idea without attacking the brain or the thinker.

Apologies and Un-Apologies

Great discussion.  Question for Momof2:  When he points out a "transgression" and you don't remember, do you believe him?  As the non, I agree with the comment above that something about your sample response rankles me.  It translates (in my mind) as "I don't remember, I don't really believe you, but if I have to apologize, I will.  Sorry."

If you do believe him, do you have to remember it?  I think that is the crux of the matter. 

My guy "forgets" stuff he did that bothers me, so I'm trying to learn not to let it slide.  His forgetting has an upside.  Sometimes I say things I regret, and call him later to apologize, and he says no problem, he's already forgotten about it.  "no biggie" in his words.  The apology I'm training my husband to use is "I did?  That was wrong.  I'm sorry."  I mean literally training.  I'm teaching him, that for ME, "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings" or "I was joking" or "I don't remember saying that" are not apologies.  I've even asked him, when he has forgotten, if he believes me and he says "oh, yes, of course, you wouldn't lie to me".  When I get the un-apology, I ask for the exact words "that was wrong, I'm sorry".  My part of the bargain is I have to do it immediately!  A hurtful comment from a really nice guy has been one of the biggest, most baffling problems I've had to deal with in 35+ years.  He has said "Why would you go all day long feeling bad about something I shouldn't have said, don't remember saying, and wouldn't say if I  could help it?" That makes no sense to him, and frankly it seems pretty stupid to me, too.  So I'm experimenting with "Ow!" and trying to learn not to let the "flood" of crushed feelings overwhelm me and shut me down.  If I can say "ow!" he'll look sheepish and say "oh, yeah, sorry."  Which isn't the best apology, but it isn't an un-apology.  And because we've been "practicing" this, a few times he has even noticed the look on my face before I can get the "ow!" out and said "sorry" immediately.  That was weird and amazing.  He has a greater ability to "read" me than either of us was aware of, but I think the knowledge that he had hurt me (without meaning to) overwhelmed him, made him feel bad and rather than motivating him to apologize, made him "move on" quickly so he could forget he'd done it. 

Long bunch of nonsense, but I am curious about the believing question.  I understand --there's no way I'd want to apologize if I thought I was innocent.  Is your not trusting his reporting the "offense" part of what's holding you back? 

The fact that you don't remember is the problem

When you can't remember something that's important to Non-ADDers, they feel insignificant, like they don't matter.

An example: Suppose he has asked you to take his suit to the dry cleaner because he has a big meeting on Thursday. He is stressing about this meeting and wants to look his best. You forget to pick it up and by the time he gets home from work, they are closed. And you say you forgot. Apologies don't help him, he has to go buy another suit or wear something he doesn't feel as confident in. When you say you don't remember the suit at all, it makes it worse because it feels like he and his job are unimportant to you.

My problem with "I forgot" is that he only forgets MY stuff, the things he promised to do for me. He never forgets when Doctor Who is on. 

EXCEPT, I want to add: if

EXCEPT, I want to add: if there is sensitivity (aka empathy) displayed on any level that the nonadhd partner was directly inconvenienced ("wow, really sorry about that- i know that you needed that suit and Im sorry)- it woukd go along way in my (and I think many partners) book. If we (the nonadhd partner) can appreciate the true difficulties that this disorder introduces then you have to cut your partner some slack or else you are giving justice to the general feeling that: "no matter what I do, I will get in trouble" . Let me clarify: I, personally am not looking for blood in this kind of apology just RECOGNITION. Now having said that, it is up to both of you to find a workable solution. In this case- to the NON-ADHD partner: wear a different suit and be okay with that (or buy one- is the suit REALLY going to make you succeed or will it be you who succeeds. On another day, know that your partner may need a memory prompt to pick up the suit, or get spmeone else to do it OR do it yourself if it is really that important to you. To the ADHD partner: even if you forgot and dont remember the incident/conversation clearly: OWN IT SINCERELY as something that may have caused your loved one upset. Does it matter more that it was on purpose or not that this mishap happened- or the knowledge that you may have been somewhat involved on causing upset to someone you love. If I do this, I apologize (with the words "I'm sorry" specifically- taking ownership of the ultimate consequence. Then we can ALL MOVE ON, and I woukd like to think laugh about it. ("dont worry you will do amazing at the meeting, even if you just wore your underwear!"). It is the team effort that is the key, I feel. Each "side" needs to be cognizant that regardless of the baggage and past history: If you care about someone, worry more about how the other person feels, work out a fair solution within reach of both people, support each other (without assigning or worrying about blame).. And let it go. That is what I feel. And no, not quite there with my DH. But am working on that too. :) @gardener: I also have used this method for when my spouse has really said something hurtful or acted over the line: I say, "And I need a real apology for how you behaved, because that was hurtful". On those particular occasions (ie he just had a raging moment), he will certainly remember it and 9/10 apologize- and then I move on. It does work.

I'm an "equal opportunity"

I'm an "equal opportunity" forgetter.  It doesn't matter who it is for when I forget.  I can see how the fact your husband only forgets about your concerns would be hurtful, Sueann.  This particular issue for me is less about what I've agreed to do, because I'm really starting to develop better habits to circumvent that.  It's more about the seemingly innocuous "unconscious acts" that upset him.  Like when I apparently threw his pillow on the floor on my side of the bed (first time ever) before I went to sleep the other night.  He came home late, tried to (noisily) find his pillow in the dark, which took him a while.  He's done the same thing to me several times, but I made sure NOT to mention that, even though I thought about it.

"Long bunch of nonsense"

"Long bunch of nonsense"... I don't think so. Your whole post is a perfect way to tap the breaks on this exact problem. The NonADDer holds back at the initial offense and should not need to do that... The ADDer did not Hear how bad the comment was and how it hurt you, he should have if he would think before speaking. Because of our memory, being surprised by bringing up something from "Not Now", and the guilt of hurting our spouse again sends me scrambling, for sure. Defensive (I wouldn't have said that?!?, but did I???, she wouldn't lie, I am not sure..., probably did it again...)

Good advise Gardener...


Now that you've asked the

Now that you've asked the question, it's made me realize what (part) of the problem has been.  No, I no longer fully trust his memory due to the effects his depression has had on it.  There have been a number of non-emotional, non-relationship conversations between us in which I've had to gently correct his memory of events, agreements, etc... and one or or the both of us discovers I am right!  You might think I'd be smug, but no, I find it quite disconcerting.  It speaks to the effects of depression.  I mean, the man is normally better than most people I've ever met as concerns executive functioning.  Not just better than me... better than just about anyone. 

Secondly, I do not have total faith in his view of me in light of the depression.  He has not always been (or even) right about me in the past several months.  He will make a seriously pissed-off accusation, I eventually apologize (admittedly not as good about apologizing when he goes after me), and lo-and-behold, it turns out I was right after all his b&*^ching.  After he wants me to grovel and then adds that to his grudge pile, do I get a groveling apology?  No.  I get an angry "sorry" and a dismissive walk-off, which I would not accept from my 4 year old.  When I do apologize, it's not like that.  It's more like, "I'm sorry my actions/inaction made you sad.  I'm sorry."

That said, his memory is still better than mine (not his long-term; I kick his a&& in that regard).  So while he used to be right about this type of issue almost all of the time,  that is no longer true.   Still, it is frequently true.

When I say "I'll take your word for it," I say it with sincerity.  I never say it flippantly or sarcastically.  I say "I don't remember it" because it's the truth.  I add, "but that doesn't mean anything" to say that just because I don't recall the event in question doesn't mean it isn't true.  I don't know if some of you read it differently because the printed word doesn't always account for tone, or whether even light of my clarifications, it still came off as mean-spirited.  I'm feeling a little demoralized right now, because in my mind, I was being amenable to what he was saying even before I had proof, something I NEVER would have done in the past.  Could you please let me know if you still consider it rude and why?  I do understand that it's not an apology, because at that moment, I haven't arrived at that point. 

Thank you for asking that question.  It brought some underlying issues to my consciousness.

Clarification is everything

I probably missed some earlier discussion about his depression ... of course that would color his pointing out your errors and wanting an apology.  Tone is everything, and I can now hear your words in a different voice.   Thank you so much the added information.  I like your comment "because at that moment, I haven't arrived at that point" in the apology.  It shows you probably rightfully feel you need to set the right framework first, in light of his issues.  As bad as non-apologies are, apologies demanded when none are deserved can be worse!  I've been in that spot, too.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness. 

this x 1000.

I am SO on the same page with you!  My BF and I usually have, hmm, what to call them, "disagreements" about things he's asked me to do that I have not done.  Often enough, I even remember saying them!  And often, as sueann pointed out, I take care of all the things that are on "my" schedule first and none that will help "us" although those might have a sooner deadline or be higher priority.  I don't know why and I don't know how to motivate myself differently to change that.  But that's another story for another time.


"An apology seems insincere" is RIGHT ON THE MONEY!  My BF has lately said if I could just apologize, he'd be able to move on... but I find it really, really hard to apologize when I don't feel I've done something so wrong​, or when I want to feel validated in my defensiveness.  That is to say, when I feel that I had a good reason for acting the way I did, too.  

e.g. I'm leaving my job soon (for a better offer, hooray) and I was supposed to talk to my supervisor last Monday to confirm my last day would be the 16th... so BF and I can sneak a week's vacation in between my two jobs as the other is probably going to start at the end of this month.  (YES I am totally playing with fire!!  But this is our only vacation of the YEAR.)  I was afraid to talk to her Monday.  Then Tuesday I talked to her and she caught me off guard, by asking when the next job would start.  I didn't have an answer prepared so I said, "End of the month..." and then she said, "Oh, think about any things you can do between now and then."  Powerlessly, I muttered "um" and I didn't commit.  But nor did I say "No, I need to be finished on the 16th."  

Cue that evening when I'm talking with my BF and he has to drag the information out of me that I didn't actually nail down my last day with the supervisor.  He was let down because a) what he expected didn't come to pass in that way, or as he says "we both planned/committed to do something but your plans changed" and b) because I didn't tell him this when it happened, but rather only when he specifically asked me.  Also, c) he couldn't book the plane tickets without knowing from me that I'd be free on the 16th - where I wanted him to just book the darn tickets and operate on the assumption that I would somehow work things out before then!!  He wanted me to apologize but I wanted him to listen to me saying that I had felt powerless in that moment and that he wasn't online all day for me to tell him after the conversation had happened, and no I actually didn't think of emailing him about it.  I just wanted him to understand that these things were valid reasons for me - and then I think I would have calmed right down and said "Well, shucks, honey, you're right.  That is a really crummy thing to happen to anyone, for plans to change and not to know until you specifically ask for confirmation and then actually get a different answer.  Especially with something as important as our only vacation of the year together."  But first I needed to know that he supported me in any way at all.  Without knowing that, I wasn't able to apologize.

Making an apology, for me, is like going off the high dive.  You take a risk, you make yourself vulnerable, and have to trust that there'll be something at the bottom to catch you and say "It's okay" and "thank you for apologizing."  But if all I hear as I'm going up the ladder is that my words, reasons, WHATEVER are inadequate, I'm sure as hockeysticks not gonna wanna jump!!  I'm going to try any other way I can think of to get off that high dive with the rickety ladder and the doubtful pool.  I'll flap my arms, I'll call for a helicopter, I'll do anything else I can to escape instead of just to jump.  Would you jump into a pool that you weren't sure had water in it?


(edit: the stuff I say below is exactly taking a page out of lululove's book!  full credit for saying the same thing first!)

Now, the part about "something that has worked" to calm my BF down!  If I can't apologize yet for my part in his being upset, what really really helps is to validate his feelings.  Honestly, it's like finding a ticklish spot on a dragon, it works almost immediately with a modicum of post-cleanup.  So in your case, "I understand you're feeling frustrated because I didn't do something you asked me to, and you were depending on me for that.  You're also upset because this thing was important to you and I have forgotten it." Don't say a word about your own thoughts or justifications.  Just talk about his feelings for these sentences.  BF and I have been trying this method for the past few weeks and the only time I forgot to do it resulted in a two-hour blowout of me defending myself and him saying "just apologize and we can move on."  (just apologize?  ha!)

My mom, who's in a counseling course, calls this "reflective listening."  What it does:

FOR HIM, this is saying "your hurt feelings are valid!  I understand what you are feeling and I understand the reason, unreservedly." 

FOR YOU, this is also not yet accepting responsibility for not doing the thing!  This is just saying that you were involved in his feeling let down, without yet needing to own up to the exact action that slips your mind.  It may well be true that he's frustrated/upset/etc because of an in/action on your part.  Own up to that without specifying.  It's a lot easier to take the "me" out of it at this stage than any later moment when you get more personally invested in the argument, the defense, etc.  And then, later on when you remember the thing, or feel ready to apologize, you can.  But you have already laid out the grounds for which he wants an apology, and that seems to go a long way.


When my BF and I argue, usually I'll say "I know I effed up, but I'm going to fix it by doing X, Y and Z."  This is the wrong answer because it feels to him like I'm skipping over his hurt feelings and thinking I can just paper over the hole by trying another, subpar way when the first one didn't work.  But ​with reflective listening​, I first say "I understand you feel let down because this isn't the first or second time you've said this to me," and THEN my suggestions are much, much easier received.


With my BF I'm also going to ask if he can do the same validation for me when I start to get defensive.  I think that recognizing why I felt justified will let me calm down and see it from someone else's perspective.


Hope any of what I said was clear... it's pretty far past my bedtime over here! :)

its different for a few

its different for a few people i think - i have depression, my husband has adhd but he won't admit that hes got it. im so tired now i sometimes think that 'sorry' means nothing from him because he just goes and does the same thing again and i don't believe anyone is really truly remorseful about something they've done or said if they keep doing it. it's something i'm struggling with a lot. but whe you say 'ill take your word for it. i dont remember doing it, but i know that doesnt mean anything' it sounds a lot like my husbands 'whatever' in my ears, when he can't remember something instead of following that with the knowledge that his memory sucks, he just assumes it didnt happen and im just being a nagging old cow and he needs to find something to say to shut me up. 

in saying that, i personally wish that he would stop apologizing for something he isnt actually sorry for as well. an insincere apology shows through, so maybe if you talked to your husband about the issue at a time when you arent arguing about it, like while youre just having an ordinary conversation, and discuss with him what would be a better way to say what you're trying to say, he might be able to help you come up with something that you can both deal with.