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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107 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • 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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