If there were an Oscar category for the movie containing the dumbest line ever, I'd vote for the 1970 hit Love Story, in which actress Ali McGraw immortalized the phrase: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

At the time, I thought this sentiment was immensely profound. In my defense, I was only ten years old at the time. Now I am in my mid-40s and know better: Love means always being ready to say you're sorry.

I wanted him to face what he had done Naturally, if you are bumbling so often in your relationships that you need to apologize on a daily basis, you may need a prescription for a couple of Dr. Phil's self-help books. But even the best among us sometimes speak or act before we think, hurt those we love, and fail to live up to our own potential—spiritual, intellectual and emotional. If we can own up to our mistakes, however, we can deepen the relationships most important to us.

Many years ago, when one of my sons was eight years old, he misbehaved badly in class and the teacher, Mr. Simon, called to tell me. I could have sat my son down and chastised him for his behavior, and grounded him for a few days. Instead, I took him to Mr. Simon's house so he could apologize in person. My son was teary with shame and acute discomfort, but he eventually managed an apology, which Mr. Simon accepted. This was painful for my son, but I wanted him to face, literally, the wrong he had done. It worked. My son never again behaved similarly toward any other teacher.

Ironically, we often find it easier to apologize to strangers than to those close to us. It's no big deal to say, "Sorry! Didn't mean to bang your shopping cart!" It's much tougher to say, "I'm sorry I haven't been listening to your problems lately," or "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings." Doing so forces us to confront our own inadequacies.

Self-improvement is always a good idea, but certainly the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur provides an ideal opportunity. Judaism teaches that during these days, G‑d is more available to us than ever, waiting for us (yes, us!) to come closer to Him. G‑d cannot absolve us for wrongs that we have committed against others, which is why we are supposed to ask forgiveness directly from anyone we may have wronged. But G‑d wants to forgive us for mistakes and transgressions we have committed against Him, against Jewish values, and even against ourselves. Asking for forgiveness and guidance makes us vulnerable, but it also opens the door to a deeper relationship with the transcendent.

G‑d is more available to us than everOn Yom Kippur we seem to apologize all day long, confessing to a whole litany of sins that may strike us as remote and irrelevant. Have we really stolen, acted violently, been immoral? There are two vital points to remember about this confession: First, the word "sin" is a poor translation of the Hebrew words used to designate transgressions. Chet means that we have "missed the mark;" avon means "desire;" and pesha means "rebellion." Knowing the more accurate Hebrew immediately makes the concepts more accessible. I don't know about you but, too often, I have missed the mark, been rebellious, and indulged my desires.

We also recite the confessional in the plural, so even if we personally never, even once, stole (stealing can refer to money or time, or to misleading others), someone else in the Jewish community may have. Similarly, all the transgressions have deeper meanings: "Afflicting others" can mean speaking too harshly, thereby diminishing someone else's sense of self. "Acting violently" can mean acting in a way where the ends justify the means.

Many Jews carve out time for self-reflection during the High Holiday season, take on a new mitzvah, or try to overcome a weakness. It's best not to be overly ambitious, however. If we have an anger problem, we can start by saying, "I'll try to lose my temper one less time each day." Small consistent steps eventually lead to big changes. The acclaimed teacher, Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller of Jerusalem, wrote, "As long as we deny where we stand today, we will find that we are still there tomorrow."

Mature love and mature relationships sometimes require that we say we are sorry. But investing in that personal honesty and integrity is also an investment in deeper, more enriching relationships with family, friends, and with G‑d. Oh yes, you'll have a more honest relationship with yourself, too.