Article details 5 comments
08/10 2011

Intimacy InterCourse: After “The Apology”

Here’s a scenario that plays itself out almost daily in my practice…

Couples argue.  They scream and yell and curse at each other.  Shoes have been thrown.

In front of me.

I don’t know why, but I’m comfortable with that.  (The reasons why would require an entirely separate blog series…)

As I wrote in “Into Me See,” the desired outcome to this heating-up and cooling-down therapeutic process is for each partner to better understand where the other is coming from – to reach a greater state of intimacy – with that ultimate goal being increased communication, harmony, and if they’re doing it right, great make-up sex.

All couples need not experience as hot a heating-up process, yet obviously the intended reward is the same.

We work collaboratively to cut through the insignificant b.s.  And through our conversation (our Intimacy InterCourse, if you will!), we attempt to come to a resolution.

Often there is The Apology.

One of the most magical moments for me as “witness” in the therapy room is that moment of transformation.  A palpable “shift” occurs in the room, and  both partners really get that their relationship – and what they mean to each other – is so much more important than the details they’re fighting about.  I become transported from my role as participant into one of honored observer as the couple once again fuses into feelings of oneness.

By the way, this same shift happens in individual therapy when someone really understands the crap they’ve been buying into – and then begins the journey of acceptance and self-forgiveness.

But I digress…

So here we are.  There’s an Apology (or apologies) out on the table.

Great!  Mazal Tov!

Now what?

What happens After The Apology?

Now don’t get me wrong here.  The process that the couple just went through to get to The Apology is huge.  Some couples struggle in a pre-apology purgatory, trying to roll the sorry rock up the hill.

Those who make it to the top of “Apology Mountain” (which is the spiritual equivalent of Mount Everest) deserve to be both acknowledged and patted on the back.

However, if you’re still following me here, you’re noting that a bunch of people are now stuck at the top of a mountain and have to get down.  They must descend off their sorry high.

As any veteran mountain-climber will tell you, getting back down is as difficult, if not moreso, than the going-up (ah… the yin and the yang of it all).

Right here is the critical space After The Apology.  The place where the hardest work exists…  The place where people are brought kicking and screaming…

That place is called:


The place of Change looks different for each couple.

But going through this place of Change is the only way to get down the Apology Mountain to a new state of Relationship.

In Change, although the commitment to it must be renewed moment-to-moment, the Change manifested through new behaviors and actions takes time.

One of my favorite tweets is: “An apology is just some words strung together if it’s given without a change attached to it.

In other words, if you’re not able to get back down from the top of the mountain, then your expedition cannot be considered a success.  And my success comes from leading the couple through their expedition successfully.

This is so important that I tend to call my couples out when there’s too much self-acknowledgment going on and not enough manifesting of their commitment to change.   It’s not pretty.

After all, that’s why they pay me the big(ish) bucks.

Did I mention I’m not conflict-avoidant?







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  1. 08/10 2011

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  2. Dr. Marla
    08/10 2011

    Thanks so much for including me in your article… and for your confidence! The words “I’m Sorry” really can be magical, as they can lead to true relationship transformation.

  3. David
    08/15 2011

    Apologies Can Consume You

    Whatever the words
    We hurled at each other

    However many times we made up
    And, promised each other
    Never Again!

    Whatever actions we swore we would not do again
    Individually, and
    To each other

    We tried
    And, found ourselves disconnected

    Unable to share in each of our distinct selves
    Worse, our desires disgusted each of us as individuals

    And, alas,
    The apologies consumed us

    Underneath it all
    We were so far apart

    And, we came to understand
    The real word for what was us, is


  4. 09/5 2011

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    09/5 2011

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