Men..When You Mess-Up - Admitting It Is An Option

man woman bubbleMen, it’s inevitable that at times you are going to mess up and get things wrong for your partner. Here are some pointers that I hope you find helpful from my couples counselling experience. There's a lot of good material here.

<First Forgive Yourself Otherwise You Will Be Defensive

When you have messed up and your partner is upset the first step is to forgive yourself. Avoid if you can, going into shame and self-hatred. This is what lies beneath the surface for most men who react with anger and defensiveness. Accept that you are as fallible as the next man. You are not alone in messing up.There's a dignity to be found in accepting yourself regardless of what you have done and be accountable for clearing your mistake as best you can.

You can be present to your partner, comfort her, regret what you have done and make amends. You can do this while connected to your male power . You need to face up to your partner's hurt and anger. It will be uncomfortable. You will feel better by doing what is needed to be done.

Stay Connected to Yourself.

Your partner wants to connect to you on a feeling level. In order to be open to this you need to stay connected to your body, so feel your feet on the ground , breathe from the centre of you body. Feel your body supported by the ground. If you lose connection to yourself , slow things down, slow her down,tell her you need a minute if necessary.

Notice any uncomfortable feelings that come up as she is talking to you. See if you can soothe yourself, notice the feelings without reacting from them. If you notice yourself loosing connection with your body do something to reconnect.

<Avoid Attempting To Shut Down Your Partner's Feelings

Men who are uncomfortable with their feelings often worry about their partner's getting too upset, not realising that it is their own feelings they are attempting to protect. It is better to become aware of what you feel and not worry about your partner expressing her feelings. Your partner is well versed in being emotional, you don't need to worry about her being upset.

Listening Tips

There is no mental technique to make your partner's upset go away. What is required is just to do your best to be there and be sincere. If at anytime  you feel overwhelmed, or angry tell her you need a 'time-out' for 10 minutes. It's essential  you make it clear that you really want to hear her out.and that you will be back in 10 minutes. If you are feeling scared or uncomfortable, soothe yourself by remembering she's not your mother and she can't, 'make you or break you- only your self-judgment can.

Listen to her emotional flow. Women have a different communication style to men so don't expect her to speak like a man. Men tend get be literal and argue about details, whereas women tend to express what they are feeling in the moment without focusing on the details or literal meaning.

Sift for the gold. Translate inwardly to yourself any digs or criticism into what she is saying she is needing now. E.g. Translate ' You never listen', into 'I really want to be listened to right now'. It helps you both stay connected if you  keep some kind of physical contact. Be attentive. Every time you break contact it feels like abandonment to her. Listen to the hurt she wants to express.

The content isn't necessarily the message. Tune into what she is saying on a feeling level. Could it be that she feeling abandoned because you have been emotionally pulling away? Remember to keep your breathing flowing so you keep feeling, in response to what she is feeling. Holding your breath suppresses feeling and generates anxiety.

Don't let any arrows of 'you never do this..or do that !' stick in. - It might be her hurt speaking that is too tender to be directly expressed. If she is being unkind just let her know by saying, 'Ouch!' which might be all you need to say. There are limits, and sometimes you need to tell her what the limit is. You can remain in your power and not accept  attempts to punish you. Focus on what she is feeling and needing now. If it's not clear, ask her.

There's room for two realities - 'yours' and 'hers'. First focus on 'hers' . You can show you are hearing what she is saying by reflecting it back to her without disagreeing or adding your interpretation. It's a timing thing; First you need to listen and tune into what she is feeling. At this point there is no need to defend, no need to be right, no need to correct the details of her truth. Let her get her emotional flow out first. The time to disagree is later.

Show her you are listening and slow her down by stopping her flow every now and then and saying something like..'Let me see if I'm getting this...[repeat back the key themes]'
If she is overcome with emotion give her time to express it...make physical contact..slow things down.

She just wants you to hear her hurt. She wants you to feel with her rather than rationalise. If you have messed up she wants to admit that you, 'messed up',without justification, without defending, without collapsing.

A classic male response is to quickly jump in with "I'm sorry" followed by a long explanation about how bad the man feels. Women want men to hear their feelings not tell her about how bad they feel. Keep the focus on her. She needs you to be  sincere and to be saying in your own words,'I regret  that I've hurt you'. 'I've hurt you..I messed up'. 'I've let you down.'

Validate her Feelings If you listen to what she is saying and step into her reality and imagine how you would be feeling if you believed what she believes then it's easier to connect. What men tend to do is to disagree straight off and argue the details in a logical way. Your partner wants you to get how she 'feels'. The way not to do this is to say ,"I understand", quickly followed by your point of view. Instead of saying ,"I understand", tell her in detail what you understand.

E.g. In response to your partner worried about a text message from a female work colleague, here is how you could respond to your partner's feelings:

"You saw that message on my phone from Sue at work inviting me to a drinks do, and you are worrying if it's just a drinks do or something more , I can really see that not knowing any more, you begin to wonder if there is something going on between us..and you are worried, and feeling angry. You feel distanced from me and right now wondering if I'm telling you the truth. I would probably be feeling the same if I didn't know more about my work colleagues".

If you sincerely focus on the feelings  and can see that her feelings make sense ( given how she sees the situation) and you can communicate that. In effect you are showing that her feelings are important to you.

If your partner keeps bringing up the same hurt, it could be because you are not being heart-felt in acknowledging the'feeling message' in what she is saying or that you have not made an adjustment in your behaviour towards her.


  1. First, forgive yourself for messing up.
  2. Listen to your partner's emotional flow while staying in your male power
  3. Check out with her that you have got the' feeling message'.
  4. Take responsibility for what she is right about first. 'you are right, I've messed up, I let you down'. Express regret. Don't argue the details. Focus on the clear up.
  5. Set limits if necessary. Don't accept punishment.
  6. Discuss disagreements if you need to.
  7. Reassure her.
  8. Walk your Talk: Make adjustments to your behaviour to remedy the situation.

Relationship Counselling

Most men find staying present when they have 'messed up' somewhere between: hard to impossible. It's not easy! You and your partner trigger bonding patterns in each other that  pushes each other's buttons like no-one else can.

If you are stuck in repetitive arguments attend relationship counselling with your partner. It can help you both find ways to understand each other better and work through repetitive patterns. You will find that problems are co-created and you can both work together to improve your communication.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>

More information about formatting options

Click below to share this page