5 Apologies That Always Work

Written by Andrea Shair

My husband’s very good at apologizing.  It’s not that I don’t apologize. Admitting when you’re wrong is hard but I always do it when I believe I’m wrong. It’s that the way I apologize doesn’t get received as being sincere.  I’m working on getting better at apologizing and this is what I’ve learned so far.

In any apology, the hearer is usually willing to accept it if they believe the apologizer is sincere. The problem comes in how we determine whether or not someone is sincere. This all has to do with how you were taught to apologize.

We didn’t hear each other

In my family you could do or say something nice as gesture of apology. If you used words you just said “I’m sorry” and that was enough. But in my husband’s family apologies are more detailed than that. Rather than simply saying, “I’m sorry”
you say what you’re sorry for. In his family apologies are specific. He’s used to hearing things like, “I’m sorry I reacted without getting clarification first.”

Our different methods of apology have lead to some complicated situations in our home. I would do something inconsiderate. My husband would point it out. I’d mull it over, agree internally that it was inconsiderate, and do something nice as a gesture of apology. Then my husband would get mad that I glossed over the issue by doing something nice. I’d be left confused by the whole incident.

Other times I would do something inconsiderate. My husband would point it out. I’d mull it over, agree and say, “I’m sorry.”

My husband would say, “You’re not sorry, you don’t even know what you’re sorry for!”

So I would say, “But I agree with you! I’m really sorry!”

And would he say, “I don’t believe you’re truly sorry.” Once again, I’d be confused.

5 Ways to apologize

The differences in the way my husband and I hear apologies are pretty common. So what do you do when the person you love doesn’t hear you when you say, “I’m sorry?” In his book Things I Wish I’d Known Before Getting Married, Dr. Gary Chapman details five languages of apology that are universal.

1.Expressing regret -This language appeals to the emotions. It indicates that we are aware that we caused pain. “I’m sorry I spoke harshly. I know I’ve hurt your feelings and I’m so sorry for that.”

2. Accepting responsibility – This language spells out what was done wrong. “I was wrong to speak to you in that tone. I shouldn’t have reacted like that.”

3.Making restitution – This one is all about how to make up. Usually the request will fall in line with that person’s love language. “I can’t believe I reacted that way. Please tell me what I can do to make it up to you.”

4.Expressing the desire to change behavior This one is pretty self-explanatory. “I keep losing my temper and I know that’s not right. I don’t want to repeat this. Can you think of anything that could help make sure this doesn’t happen?”

5.Requesting forgiveness – This is where forgiveness has to be requested before the apology is seen as being sincere. “I’m so sorry I spoke harshly and reacted the way I did. I know this hurts you. Will you please forgive me?”

One of these apology languages will resonate the most strongly with you. (For me it’s expressing regret). And likely, a different one will resonate more strongly with your spouse. (For my husband it’s accepting responsibility). Now we’re learning how to apologize in each other’s languages, as well as to extend the grace in accepting an apology that didn’t come out in our preferred language.

Something else I try to practice is to NEVER say “I’m sorry…but” even if there was wrongdoing on the other side. The “but” nullifies the whole apology. It’s an attempt to excuse your own bad behavior based on their bad behavior. It takes strength and humility but you ALWAYS have a choice over your actions. Be responsible for owning up on your end. God will deal with your spouse separately.

Change Your Destiny With This Apology.

Forgiveness does not cancel out consequences

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140 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • Diank says:

    I have a boy frnd, we have been dating nt for long tym. Bt I made a mistake of letting him check my phone before deleting msgs of my frnds who are boys,as u knw there some frnds who like sending crazy msg. Bt actually I had them before I met my current bf. Bt whn he saw them he got xo pissed, I tried to apologize Bt I thk its nt working out. And I feel xo bad that we are not in gd terms nw. I really love my bf, his my life. Wit due course I have even failed to find words that I can use to say xry to him. Wat should I do

  • Sharon says:

    to Mark your link did NOT work. I will pray for you. to Tee I am sorry this guy you love is not talking to you. have you apologized to this guy. prayer father God I do pray for Tee for this guy she loves to text or talk to her even tonight or tomorrow I pray for reconciliation for them I pray heal the insecurity in her so she wont’ blow up anymore I pry all of this in JESUS name amen I am praying for you God be with you always.– sharon

  • tee says:

    I am dating a younger guy and I always seem to blow my cool or go off on him because I don’t see him that much. He’s never given me a reason to think he is unfaithful I guess I’m insecure. We had a big fight and now he won’t text or talk to me. Its been 5 days and I’m worried. He’s in school and I just seem to frustrate him. What can I say to let him know I’m sorry and it will never happen again. I really love him!

  • Elkay says:

    Jastor, both R and Doris have given you very good advice and only time, patience and respectful behavior will tell is she is willing to be back in a relationship with you. Whether or not this relationship is restored, it is very important that you carefully and responsibly choose what you say in the future because the words we use reveal the condition of our heart. Jesus tells us this at Matt 12:35 and He goes on to say that good relations are filled with good words (and bad relations are filled with bad, careless words). That’s probably the basis for Prov 16:24, “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and honey for the body.” Ask God to give you kind words and a way to bring them to your girlfriend.

  • R says:

    Jastor, she is mad at you and this means she needs time to calm down. She also needs to see your actions talking. That is you need to correct your behaviour. Ask God to teach you how to communicate with her in a loving, compassionate and patient way. Be careful with words like ‘naughty’ and ‘fun’ as different people see them differently. Maybe when she’s calm enough discuss what things you can tolerate, what you want and need. Mind it, sometimes people say harsh things in their anger. Only time will show if she meant what she has said. If you text each other, be extra cautios. Texts could be easily misinterpreted. And pray for God’s intervention to soften her heart to forgive you and to teach you both how to respect each other. Heavenly Father if it’s your will please intervene in this situation. Guide them both, God, and teach them how to be loving and patient with each other. In Jesus Christ name I ask, Amin!

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Jastor,
    She is hurt and probably also embarrassed…have you apologized to her in the way this article suggests? Not just saying your are sorry but something like…. “I’m so sorry that comment hurt you ….Will you please forgive me? Please tell me what I can do to make it up to you. I do love you so much.”

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Yogesh,
    You and your wife need to talk about this fight face to face and not be messaging back and forth or you will only add to the misunderstanding. Have you tried using one of the apologies mentioned in this article? They are all very good. I think the first one would work well in this situation since you reacted to her joke…. “I’m sorry I spoke harshly. I know I’ve hurt your feelings and I’m so sorry for that.” or the third one may also apply… “I can’t believe I reacted that way. Please tell me what I can do to make it up to you.”

    I’m sure if you start a conversation like that you will be able to communicate your hearts to one another.

  • Jastor says:

    What can i do? I had an issue with my girlfriend we were chatting and i told her we should get naughty and she thought i meant sex chat now she is really mad at me saying she wished she never met me, she is saying i never LOVED her. I love her so much and i want her back. Have sent her a text telling her i did not mean that but she is still mad at me

  • Yogesh N says:

    I had a fight with my wife in relation to parents issue. She cracked some joke which I don’t liked and we got verbal fight. Now she send be a big message for the same for which I want to reply.

  • R says:

    Thank you for this lovely prayer Sharon :-)

  • Sharon says:

    to R prayer father God I do pray for R I pray for favor with this guy or help R to let this guy go and you love R with an everlasting love I pray for wisdom on what R should do give R direction I pray all of this in JESUS name amen. I am praying for you. look to God for direction God be with you always– sharon

  • R says:

    Hey, I’m glad to see you base your advices onto Bible and God. I used to pray about my relationship (6months) but stopped when we had sex as I felt rather ashamed to ask God for advice after that. We had a second big misunderstanding with the guy since we met and now we’re not talking already few weeks. The trouble is that we were on a break for 3 weeks and I thought we were never to talk to each other again so I tried to move on to distract myself of my feelings and pain over the breakup. I spoke to few guys and added some to some messaging applications. Then one day I felt very nostalgic to him and texted him. To my surprise we had a talk and he suggested meeting up so we got back together. However I focused too much on me and him (our interaction) that I completely took my attention off the guys who I have added. I had to delete them but I didn’t. I had to put some kind of note that we were together but I didn’t. Plus I was poorly at the time and felt very confused and guilty after the sex. He didn’t contact me after our intimacy for 2 days so I texted him and he didn’t respond but deleted the message. I felt confused. In the same time a guy asked me if I wanted to meet up I said no as back with my ex. I showed my boyfriend the message and said there were guys interested in me but I reject them although he didn’t even respond. Eventually after nearly a week he said he didn’t think it would work with me as I was chatting to other. I got quite upset, angry and rude in my messages. He didn’t check any more. I appologised the next day said I was sorry and that I should have simply deleted the guys and that I felt ashamed about my anger. I said I liked only him and nobody else but he doesn’t respond and he might have even blocked me. I very rarely get angry to that extent, I felt hurt and ignored but I don’t have even chance to explain to him. Don’t know what else to do and say if at all he reads his messages

  • Elkay says:

    Kamila, in your circumstances it is hard to know what to say because it sounds like your friend simply does not want to be in a relationship with you anymore. As I read your post, he has been harsh to you, told you he does not love you anymore and that it was unfortunate you two ever met. You have apologized and he has not responded; well that’s about all you can do because the other person must be willing to forgive you and want to restore your relationship.

    I’m very sorry, but until that happens, and it may very well not, all you can do is pray for God to intervene and soften your friend’s heart, if and only if that is the best future for you. Meanwhile, if you would like someone to come alongside you in this difficult time, hit the Talk to a Mentor button on this page and someone will reply to you in confidence by email.

  • Kamila says:

    Me and my bf have fought about fool things and he used to insult,harsh and sometimes told me bad words like [expletive removed] and like he don’t love me anymore ,and he used to say as he didn’t love me before was a bad luck to meet, its 10 months now even we are far each others. i asked for apologize but he never respond and my birthday soon please! can anyone help how to apologize because i still love him , he is only in my heart.

  • Aldo says:

    Rebecca and Elizabeth, what I’ve said to Angel below, I say to you as well. The best way to get back on the good side of your boyfriend is by apologizing. In the article above Andrea Shair lists 5 universal ways in which to apologize. I suggest that you go back to the article and pick one or more of those ways, and heartfully express them to your boyfriend. If he accepts, you have gained him back; if he does not, then maybe he truly is not the one for you, and you have learned a valuable lesson.

  • Rebecca says:

    So me and my boyfriend henry just had a fight and it was because I said something I shouldn’t have. I said I don’t get my hopes up anymore because your plans change a lot. And he got mad I tried and tried to say sorry and say I didn’t mean it the way he took but now he is pissed and he has cheated on me before and he left angry I just want to say something that have him forgive me please help me

  • Elizabeth says:

    I just recently got a DUI. The night of the DUI I texted me friend Dave that I got pulled over and was probably getting arrested. He went and got my parents and they came a got me out of jail. However my boyfriend Peter was upset that I didn’t reach out to him when I got pulled over he was sleeping at the time, and I was already texting with Dave. Few days later Peter and I broke up and have been slowly working on things. However we still fight and then peter doesn’t talk to me for a few days. And sometimes we or I say things I don’t really mean. Im going thru a hard time with the DUI and I just want Peters love and support. What can I say to Peter to have him talk to me?

  • Aldo says:

    M.Y., I am sorry to hear that your husband cheated on you. I’m sure that it can be a traumatic experience, but one that you must put behind you, unless you feel that you need to get out of it.

    M.Y., you should not feel very small and bad about yourself. You are not the culprit here; you are the victim. Besides that, God made you as you are, and loves you unconditionally. And, He does not make junk. You are made in His very image. If others don’t see that, then they have a problem.

    M.Y., make your situation a matter of prayer. Go to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, and find out how to pray God’s Word back to Him concerning your husband. In this case it would be in Hosea, chapter 2, verses 6-7. May God restore your marriage.

  • Aldo says:

    Angel, apart from prayer, the best way to get back on the good side of your boyfriend is by apologizing. In the article above Andrea Shair lists 5 universal ways in which to apologize. I suggest that you go back to the article and pick one or more of those ways, and heartfully express them to your boyfriend. If he accepts, you have gained him back; if he does not, then maybe he truly is not the one for you, and you have learned a valuable lesson.

  • Angel says:

    I have bf we meet 4 month ago, we shared our everything even its a long distance relationship, we’ve talk about our marriage on next January but everything change till one day i lie t him and he know that.. I never mean t lie but actually i just wanna make he stop t worried about me. Now he wont talk t me, he wont read my messages,, i really want t fix it, make it clear cos i love him, i want he know that i wont let he down.. Tell me what shud i do t make he belive me again because ive promise i wont lie anymore? :(

  • M.Y says:

    I am so confused I married a man that I love very much he cheated on me more then I know couple years ago and now I am always afraid that he will do it again and hurt our family. Today I blowed up when I noticed he was checking out another women which he does all the time. It makes me feel very small and I feel bad about my self. I try to ignore when he does it and I talked to him about my concerns and how it hurts me But still he does it. Is it to hard to ask when he is with me and our children to please not to check out other women…. I don’t know what to do.. I give all I have in our marriage. Am I fooling myself to think he actually truly loves me?

  • Jeanetta says:

    Today I’m heart broken. I been in a relationship for 10 months and now it is over due to my insecurities . So we met and there are relationship went up until I started noticing change like the phone , the phone would always stay in the front of the house and now it stays in the bedroom , we had got into about that I was just asking and he then got mad. This was in June , now let me remind you we been real happy up until this phone situation . Then on July 16 he went out and did not get home until 5am he text me and said he was at the house at 2:30 and I told him no you were not I was at your house waiting for you so there he goes lying and when I caught him in his lie he said let me talk to you later it’s been 24 hours and I have been trying to reach out but he won’t pick up or respond to any of my calls please help me I really love this man. I put my heart into this relationship . What do I do ?

  • Chris says:

    tom….we cant undo our past. all we can do is live for today. a persons heart has a limit to what they can stand and that is why at times, its impossible to change their minds. all you can do is give your mind and heart to jesus by logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or by clicking talk to a mentor above. then, with jesus in your life you can share him with your wife who hopefully will receive jesus also and then your marriage could most likely have a new start!

  • Chris says:

    damilola….sorry for your situation….you see, as jesus told us in luke 7, when a person doesnt recognize how much they have been forgiven for, they find it hard to forgive others. i would encourage you to be sure you are first forgiven by jesus by logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or by clicking talk to a mentor above so that you can stand tall with your head held high knowing jesus has forgiven you as you receive him as your lord and savior. then, share jesus with your husband so he too can know jesus and learn just what being forgiven is all about!

  • tom says:

    I had a wife 4 four years . every time when we had diference i kept on saying pack your thing and leave .I do love her with all my heart ,now she is gone,what can i do to make her come back

  • DAMILOLA says:

    I CHATTED ON MY HUSBAND IN THE PAST BEFORE WE GOT MARRIED, BUT NOW HIS HURTING ME EVERYDAY WITH ISSUES. HOW DO I BUILD UP MY TRUST AGAIN WITH HIM PLS ADVICE

  • Elkay says:

    Mickey, God just placed this before me and I have to share it with you.

    It is a recent posting on a companion website that I highly recommend you visit to see the realities of the dangers you and your fiancee face if he continues his practices.

    Quote: “I am 55 married for 30 years with 2 adult children. I met a 22 year old Filipina on line and have been chatting for 6 months. I realize her affections after 6 months led to request for money. I then realized my fantasy life was not real and I was fooling myself. I feel ashamed and hurt but deep down I know I could have hurt my wife and family for ever. I do understand why many married men wander and it so easy online. God gave me the strength to find my way home and save my marriage and soul.”

    The website is http://powertochange.com/discover/life/chatting/.

    May God bless you and keep you safe in this difficult journey.

  • Elkay says:

    Mickey, it is possible that you should be more worried about your relationship with your fiancée than an apology on your part. Since God Himself created marriage as a sacred institution for the welfare of mankind, He best knows the “rules and regulations” that make it successful and one of the most important rules is that sexual relations (including innuendos in social media) are to only be enjoyed between a married wife and her husband. What does it signal when your fiancée posts messages to other women and then “doesn’t do what he says” and why is he so protective of his privacy?

    Don’t underestimate the power of emotional bonding that can develop long-distance in social media. This kind of attachment can actually lead to a longing when separated from the person and that is truly dangerous territory. You may need to ask yourself some tough questions. Who is he thinking about more: you or his “friends”? Why does he need to communicate with these people? What needs are being met?

    These are important questions because a successful marriage requires an unselfish, life-long commitment to all aspects of the other person’s well-being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Basically, it is a deliberate decision (not an emotion) to take the love God has for you and let it flow from Him through you to the other person, regardless of whether they respond appreciatively or respond in kind.

    So, if or when you do get married, you need to protect your marriage by building hedges around it – big, strong, concrete ones! You should agreed on some clear, practical boundaries to ensure that neither of you ever gets close to a danger zone. Social media messages may seem harmless, but they do create the opportunity for temptation to develop. And that can start a slippery slope.

  • Mickey says:

    My fiance and I have been together for almost 8 years….. there have been issues in the past where trust was broken. We’ve promised that we would never leave each other and work on any problems that come our way. Recently, I’ve been letting social media control our relationship. He says things to other women, and I get offended by him doing this. He says that I treat him like a child whenever I invade his privacy and that he’s not gonna stand for it anymore. He also says that he doesn’t do what he says when he posts these messages to other women. He’s threatening to leave now…..and I don’t wanna let him go. But I also want to be able to trust him too. How do I apologize for MY PART in this situation?

  • Aldo says:

    Amida, not loving a person is a sure sign that marriage should not be entered into.

    Marriage is a covenant, made before God, to one another “for better, for worst, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, til death do us part.”

    Those words are easily said at the wedding ceremony, but difficult to live out. So, what’s the answer? The right foundation.

    Building a lasting marriage is like building a house. If you want the house to remain standing during the times of wind, rain, and floods, you build it on a solid foundation. (Matthew 7:24-25) If you want your marriage to last through those times which will surely come that will test its steadfastness, you build it on a firm foundation.

    What, then, is the foundation on which to build? Answer: JESUS CHRIST! He is the answer to all your problems, whether they be big or small, financial or habitual, domestic or physical. He wants to be your redeemer, your healer, your provider, and your marriage counselor. Turn your life over to Him, and trust Him to bring about what He knows is best for you and your baby. Allow me to pray for you:

    Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love for Amida. A love so great it is unfathomable. Help her to grasp the magnitude of that love. Help her to comprehend the sacrifice You made for her in sending Your Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for her sins, and the sins of all mankind. Lord, touch Amida’s heart right now with Your precious Holy Spirit, and draw her to You and to the Savior, Jesus Christ, in His Name I pray. Amen.

    Amida, if you would like to make Jesus Christ your Savior and Lord, here is how to do it.

    God knows your heart and is not as concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. The following is a prayer I suggest you say it with all of your heart:

    “Dear God, I admit I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness; I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died in my place, paying the penalty for my sins. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Him as my personal Savior and Lord. I commit myself to You, and ask You to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and take control, and to help me become the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You Father for loving me, forgiving my sins, and for giving me eternal life, in Jesus name, Amen.”

    God bless.

  • Amida says:

    My problem is too much and i get confuse of myself… I’m. Having a child with a guy eho is planning to marry me but i don’t love him.
    My love for him lost ever since i findout he’s being lying to me… I was born in a broken home and I’m the first child… Im scared it might be a trend.. I also feel i should move on with my life and for get about his marrage. I feel i will never be happy if i marry him.
    Pls help me. Thnx

  • Elkay says:

    Pooja, if you have told your boyfriend that you are truly sorry (and defined exactly what you are sorry about) and asked for his forgiveness, there is really not much more you can do. The ball is in his court to respond positively if he wants to and you cannot control that.

    The next thing I am saying may sound harsh but it is with your best interests at heart. If your boyfriend is “so far from you” over a miscommunication, that is a red flag about the future relationship between you two. It may simply be that he is not the right husband for you in a future marriage. It is better to be sad now than to be broken-hearted later. Marriage is a sacred institution created by God and is not something to be entered into with another person just because you are “attracted” to them.

    In addition to the “spiritual” union between husband and wife in marriage, there is a vast “real life” connection that involves affection, respect, expectations, duties, emotions, physical needs, money-management, conflict-resolution, communication differences, etc., etc. And this is made more complicated because men and women are inherently different mentally, physically and emotionally and so a successful marriage requires a life-long commitment to all aspects of the other person’s well-being. Basically, it is a deliberate decision (not an emotion) to take the love God has for you and let it flow from Him through you to the other person, regardless of whether they respond appreciatively or respond in kind.

    Obviously then, “choosing” a marriage mate should be done prayerfully, seeking God’s will and expecting “good signs” from Him before proceeding. Ideally, marriage should not entered into without the support of relatives and without pre-marital counseling by a long-term, well-married, Christian couple. What I have said here is just a beginning and barely scratches the surface so please explore all available resources as you go forward.

  • Pooja says:

    I have bf and he is angry on he is so far from me..I have miscommunication with him please suggest me how tobget back him in my life

  • Swagnik Mukherjee says:

    I want to say sorry to Sejuti Biswas…my mentality is cheap..you r nt

  • janay says:

    i need to get an apologie letter for my parents for them to let me go to prom

  • Chris says:

    sakky…sorry for your situation. you see when a person knows jesus personally, they dont even ask for an apology but do as jesus did on the cross and forgive without apologies. if you havent experienced the love and forgiveness of jesus in your life personally, please log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above so you can begin your own wonderful and glorious relationship with jesus our savior and help your friend to do so also. jesus bless you as you do!

  • Chris says:

    neha….sorry for your struggles….we must understand that human relationship problems stem from a problem with our relationship with God because when a person walks with God in a personal way, they have his love in their hearts, have experienced his forgiveness, know of his peace and are not offended by the sins of others. you need to set the example for your father by receiving jesus as your own personal lord and savior. you can do that by logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or by clicking talk to a mentor above. then you can begin having jesus peace in your heart, no longer have a need to argue because you will be praying instead of saying and show your father the love of christ so that he will want jesus too. blessings as you do!

  • neha says:

    Me and my dad don’t get along really how do I say sorry to him I’m 14 and my dads 51 its only for small arguments so I need tips

  • Tom Tom says:

    Sakky–
    According to Gary Chapman’s book The Five Languages Of Apology, each person accepts an apology in a different way. In other words, each person expects to hear certain things from the person who offended them in order to accept the apology. While one person might accept a simple, “I’m sorry,” the next person may require, “I’m sorry, and I’ll never do it again.”

    These 5 types of apology are:
    1–Expressing regret (I’m sorry.)
    2–Accepting responsibility (I’m sorry, I was wrong/it was my fault.)
    3–Making restitution (I’m sorry. How can I make it up to you?)
    4–Genuinely repenting (I’m sorry. It will never happen again.)
    5–Requesting forgiveness. (I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?)

    You might ask your boyfriend if he’ll sit and talk with you about these things to find out what his “apology language” is. It would be a good idea for you to tell him what yours is too!

  • Sakky says:

    Me and my bf have gotten into a fight. It’s completely my fault and I have a lot to apologize for, I don’t know how to go about this because when I say “I’m sorry,” and I explain why, he says “don’t say ‘I’m sorry’ it’s cheap.” How do I start an apology if I can’t say I’m sorry?

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