The important distinction between intention and damage

How do you and your partner handle it when one of you feels injured emotionally by the other?

Sometimes one partner will say he or she didn’t mean to hurt the other and assumes that should take care of things.  But, there is a critical difference between intention and damage.  Not intending to hurt your partner doesn’t clear the issue of whatever damage your partner feels they experienced.  This is true even though we each react to situations because of our own experiences and issues and, in that way, we are each responsible for our feelings.  But, in a partnership, we also have a responsibility to our partner.

When partners don’t acknowledge the impact of their behavior, it’s difficult for the injured party to heal from that hurt or anger and there is a negative impact on trust in the relationship.   It’s important to both clarify intention and address the impact/damage related to your actions.  To acknowledge and apologize and make whatever amends are appropriate for the damage you participated in causing is an important step in healing breaches in the relationship. The good news is that when there was no malice in your intention that absence of malice creates the space for forgiveness.

If your priority is to preserve and strengthen a healthy relationship and intimate connection with your partner then attending to all 3 parts of this is very important.

  • Clarify your intention
  • Acknowledge the damage that occurred and your share of responsibility in it
  • Apologize, make amends


When both partners feel wronged this can be especially challenging.  If each partner decides they will focus on the love and care they have for the other and act accordingly, then the chances of working things out is much greater.

It’s very helpful when tension is high and feelings are hurt or partners are angry; to continually go back to the touchstone of what your priority is for the relationship, not just what the issue at hand is.  That will help you approach things with your partner in the most productive way possible and help keep you on track in the midst of a tense situation

Posted on November 22, 2013 by 0 Comments Short URL

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