3 Ways to Handle a Failed Confession And WW Linkup!

Confession & ApologySometimes you do everything to prepare your heart and mind for a confessional moment with your spouse, and yet it fails! How can that happen?

Typically this happens in the heat of the moment and for various reasons.

Consider this scenario:
You’ve prayed and processed, processed and prayed and feel that you’re ready to humbly communicate your sorrow by describing how you know you’ve hurt your mate. But your mate’s wound is triggered. Or you didn’t say it in a way that your spouse appreciates, understands or feels is sincere (see here). Or worst of all, “you” get triggered because of the intensity of the moment and go off the rails toward more venting or defending rather than confessing and apologizing. That’s when the confession quickly spirals into another argument or tirade like the one that began the whole messy offense in the first place! Ay, yi, yi, yi, yi!

Yes, it’s true . . .

[Tweet “Going toward wounds in a wounded relationship can be like walking through a minefield!”]

[Tweet “#confessanyway, #cupofconfession, #apologizingisworthit”]

Sure, there are many risks involved here. So be prepared for failure, especially on your first dozen or more {emphasis on “more”} tries at this important and healing act in marriage.

So how do you handle it once you realize you’ve failed?

1. Immediately and humbly admit to your mate that you failed at apologizing.
You might want to ask for a “do-over” and then really communicate with humbleness and sincerity the next time. If you struggle to find that humbleness, then seek Christ’s help. He was and is humility personified. Demonstrate this . . .

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, . . . made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant . . . humbled himself and became obedient to death . . .” {See Philippians 2:5-8}

2. Continue to pray for God’s conviction of your part in this hurt.
There may be more that you need to understand and see regarding the hurt you’ve inflicted on your mate. I think sometimes God allows us to fail our confessions because we need further training and humbling before we can get it right.

3. Get back on that “horse” and gallop over and over toward confession!
Yep! We need to have a persevering spirit as we build a confessional culture in our marriage.

[Tweet “We need to acquire a taste for the bitterness of “humble pie.” #confessionalculture #doitagain”]

I never used to be a coffee drinker because I felt like it was just too bitter. But I’m living proof that you can acquire a taste for something you found distasteful at first. I’m a coffee-lover if there ever was one now!

In the same way, I promise that, in time, you’ll see and taste the sweetness that this bitter tasting practice can bring to your marriage!

What would you add to my list for handling a failed confession?


What have you kept in mind so that you could persevere toward an apology with your spouse?


 If you’re interested in accountability and support from MM, consider joining the C.A.M. Club or Confession & Apology in Marriage” Club. Click here to go to the Facebook page for this group. Click here for details on MM!

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, So Much at Home and Wholehearted Wednesday.

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  1. I am so, so thankful that my hubby freely accepts my apologies and does not hold on to them. He does not ‘rub it in my face’. I’ve had a couple of other people in my life who would do that and it was awful.

    • You are married to a “keeper” for sure, Aimee! It sounds like he is living out the many ways God calls us to “love” each other. I guess we all can identify with those who do not extend grace–far from it! Thankfully, when people fail us, we always have the Lord to be our Comforter and Lover. Thanks for joining the conversation and, once again, I’d like to thank you for sharing my post on FB! 🙂

      • Oh, he is a keeper for sure!! Yes, we can identify with not always extending grace…the pain is just especially raw right now. But I hold fast to Him.

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says:

    Great thoughts, but one thing I would add is to know when to back away; it’s good to keep trying but a seriously failed confession can be the sign of a deeper problem,,,that your mate doesn’t WANT to accept an apology, because it compromises a more cherished anger.


    • mmm …. cherished anger. There’s probably alot more of that going on in our relationships than we’d dare to admit.

      Because what would things look like if we gave that up? Who would we be without that guarding our wounded hearts?

      Takes alot of courage to go there, huh?

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says:

        There would be tears, but as Gandalf said, not all tears are an evil…and they lubricate strength and keep it supple.

    • Yes, that’s true, Andrew. Sometimes it is not something we’ve done. We’ve triggered our mate’s wounds by no fault of our own. It’s like they are laying their with a gaping wound and the slightest movement from us sends shock waves of pain. We always need to be prepared for our apologies to fail, whether we did something wrong or our spouse is just too wounded or bitter to receive it. But I do hope that the message of perseverance rises always to the top! Thanks, my friend, for adding to the discussion!

  3. I can’t think of anything to add as you have nailed it to my best knowledge. Admitting the apology didn’t come out right is very important as it tells your spouse you really do want to make it right. Thanks Beth for always giving practical help for marriage and relationships.
    Have a super blessed day!

    • Yes, always being aware that a humble response, whether we understand our guilt or fault or not, is the balm that our wounded marriages and hearts need, Ugochi. Thanks so much for your friendship and encouragement!

  4. I love how you spur us onto persevere toward confession and apology over and over if needed. I find that in certain moments no matter what or how you say something falls on deaf ears. Remembering to come back and try again to apologize, I believe will work eventually. Thank you for teaching us and giving us the tools to persevere in apology. Love you girl!

    • Well, Mary, that’s because I was one who questioned whether it was worth it or not at one time. It is so hard to break free from a marriage of defenses and hiding. But if we can keep that glorious goal in mind–a culture where forgiveness and mercy is always present–we can turn that messy marriage into one that brings joy!

  5. stasia08 says:

    Always such wise advise when it comes to marriage… I love reading and learning!!!

  6. Beth, much wisdom here. I loved the question you close with… “What have you kept in mind so that you could persevere toward an apology with your spouse?” I think for me it is that the relationship is so worth persevering. Always good to be here! And I have no idea why it switched to italicized or how to get it back 🙂 Sorry!

    • Yes, Joanne, we really need to keep challenging ourselves to recognize how to overcome the temptation to walk away or give up. It is going to come our way–with or without a failed apology! And I’m one to say that confession and apology was probably one of the most potent healing agents the Lord used in my marriage! So I must share with others! Hugs to you, my friend!

  7. Good stuff, Beth. I think you have to be a good forgiver in marriage to get to the fruitful years. We all have our faults, Lord knows I do, just ask my hubby, learning to accept responsibility for them and then ask forgiveness when you collide with your spouse is essential for continuing on in that dance together and doing the work God has for you. IMO, I think it can also hinder you as individuals. I’m never quite right working alone when I’m not 100% with my better half. Blessings to you today.

    • Yes, that’s a good point, Kim. I love all that you’ve said and wouldn’t add a single thing to it! You are marriage-wise, my friend! It’s clear in all you’ve just said here and what you say at your place too. 🙂

  8. Brandi Clevinger says:

    I would add to communicate your feelings as well as your mate’s feelings, but to be sure you voice how you are receiving your spouse’s feelings. There have been many times that I have misunderstood my husband’s feelings. Once I got that cleared up, the argument stopped and the true apology surfaced as intended.

    • Yes, that’s all part of the “nuts and bolts” of communicating an apology, Brandi. We need to do our homework on that for sure! And feelings, when our spouse finally has the courage to express them, need to be treated like a newborn infant–with utmost care and patience. That’s actually an idea for a post that I’ve had in the pipeline, so you figured out where I’m headed, my friend! 😉

  9. Bonnie Lyn Smith says:

    Wow…my first visit to your site (via #CoffeeandConversation). Great post! I plan to tweet and pin it to my Relational Reconciliation page. LOVED this —> “I think sometimes God allows us to fail our confessions because we need further training and humbling before we can get it right.” My husband is good at this. Me…I need to work on it. Blessings from a fellow coffee lover at Espressos of Faith!

  10. Such a good word, Beth. Thank you for sharing and linking up to WFMW!

  11. I’m learning a lot here. 🙂


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