It’s a very simple word. Yet, so many people have a really hard time saying it.

Have you found yourself in an argument in your relationship? Instead of wallowing in your anger and prolonging the issue, it’s important to abide by this relationship advice and move forward.

Why is this? Does it mean you have to admit you’re wrong? While you don’t necessarily need to go into the nitty-gritty details of who is at fault, knowing how to apologise and when is the key to getting things back on track.

Ending a fight doesn’t mean saying “I love you”; it means saying, “I’m sorry”

It’s hard to say “sorry” because saying it is admitting you were wrong.

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All relationships go through highs and lows. What’s important is you learn to repair when you have made a mistake. It’s also important when your partner gives you a sincere apology that you receive it.

Even if you think you had a small part in the argument, fess up to it and say, “I’m sorry”. Now, wasn’t that easy? If more people did this, we wouldn’t need an aspirin.

Now, if you don’t repair things, you stay stuck and this can lead to all kinds of other problems.

So, to help you figure out how to say sorry, here are five things you need to do to genuinely apologise – and mean it:

1. Accept responsibility

You probably are feeling hurt. This can cloud your perception of the situation. Start by saying, “I’m truly sorry, that really came out wrong,” or, “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

There are many ways to say it, but what’s important is that it’s sincere. This will let your partner know that you are taking responsibility for your part in the argument. Hold your space, even when the person you are trying to make up with is difficult. Some people like to rub it in or may not be ready to make up.

2. Let it go

This doesn’t mean you act as if nothing has happened. You ask yourself this question: “How important is it that I’m right here?”

People get caught up in the argument. They focus on winning rather than the relationship. This is when righteous indignation begins. You don’t have to be exactly like your partner.

Maybe being on time is important to you, but not to your partner. You don’t need to let that divide the two of you in the relationship. When you hold on to the argument, it will make you miserable.

Even if you think you had a small part in the argument, fess up to it and say, “I’m sorry”

3. Touch, touch, touch

Hug and kiss! It’s hard to stay angry when you touch someone. Touch can bridge the widest of emotional distances. You may need to start slow. Rub up against your partner’s back. Sit close to one another or cuddle on the couch. Hold hands the next time you go for a walk.

It’s easy to get away from touch in our fast-paced society. But touch will really help you connect at a deeper level. We all want that. This can also help things in the bedroom. When you are touching and playing with one another, it can’t help but lead to more.

4. Give your partner a note with the reasons they are important to you

This will let your partner know how important they are to you. Let your partner know you forgot about these things when you got into the argument. We all need to hear that we are important. Kind words can go a long way.

You can write on nice paper or in calligraphy (if you know how). You can also send an email or leave a note on the kitchen counter. Make sure you ask for forgiveness.

5. Promise that it won’t happen again – and mean it

This is one of the most important steps. This lets your partner know you are going to change the behaviour.

If you’ve been irritable because you haven’t been getting enough sleep, let your partner know that you will make sleep a priority and that you will get at least eight hours. If you haven’t been helping out around the house, let your partner know you will make it a priority to get home from work earlier. This way you will have time to help.

Make sure to follow through. We all know that actions speak louder than words.

It’s important that you mean it. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. Trust takes time to build or to rebuild after an argument. Keep working at it. Couples that work hard at their relationship stay together.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. For more information, visit Lessons for Love.

This article was originally published at Lessons for Love. Reprinted with permission from YourTango.