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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42 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • vinsè says:

    am so much inspired and since I linked up with you I never miss any day without reading your marriage bonding tips..so inspirational indeed

  • Vivien says:

    Aldo…that’s one of the nicest prayers ever said for me. Brings tears to my eyes. Thank you. Please allow me to pray for you if you have any concerns and like to share with all of us:)

  • Aldo says:

    Vivien, Praise God! that you know the Lord. I pray that the Lord would give you strength, minister His peace to you, and keep you from weeping over him. I agree also with you that the Lord draw Tony unto Himself and to the Savior, in whose Name we pray and agree, Amen.

  • Vivien says:

    Chris,
    Thank you for that verse! my mom used to always say that one. I am saved since 1991. I know God will work it out, but can’t help & I do hope that includes Tony in my life. If not, I need strength to forget him, stop weeping and hope the Lord walks with him and keeps him safe forever :) & that he learn of Jesus. Maybe one day Tony of STL will walk on my path again. I wish we could honor the Lord together.

  • Chris says:

    vivien…i regret to hear of your struggles….its true that sometimes we say or do things that can have negative consequences but the good thing is as we learn from them and move forward, romans 8.28 is working on our behalf that says god Works all things out for our good as we walk according to his purpose in our lives which would include a possible mate. as you give your heart and life to jesus each day you can know that he will guide you into his perfect will. if you have never fully given your life over to jesus you can find out how to by logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or by clicking talk to a mentor above. i pray jesus console you in the knowledge of his plan for you and that includes the right people too in his name amen

  • Vivien says:

    I found someone I really care about and he me. We’ll call him Tony in STL. The issue is we live so far apart. I got frustrated and accused him of things I shouldn’t, that weren’t true plus striking back because some of the hurts he caused me and failed to see. Most times he says I’m the one misunderstanding, that’s not always true. He told me I am unsettled and my family life is affecting my relationships and the ones that love me most over and over.. He’s right. I pushed him away and he didn’t come back. What an idiot I was. Now all I hear from my 2 best friends is “he was no good there’s better.” or “the right person will come along” or “now you see that you hold no value with him.” You know, who wants to hear that when you’re hurting beyond belief…….the worst thing that pains me is that he’s had really bad relations with most females in his life starting with his mom. So here I am being just horrible. Plus I am not being a good witness for Christ and that upsets me the most. I do not know what to do but I really miss him. We both seemed to believe we might even be the ones for each other. Even though the relationship is young. I keep the hope that God would work in his heart. That Tony would want to work at trying to make our relation stronger with God at the center. To me, I’m willing to work at it. He’s worth it. I wished he’d feel the same or if does, express so. I doubt at this point my apology would be accepted ,just rejected. I can’t believe I feel THIS bad :(

  • Sharon says:

    to Chris– thank you for your comment and bible verses I will look them up thank you again. from sharon

  • Chris says:

    Sharon….accoding to jesus in Matthew 18 we are all commanded to forgive each other just as jesus has forgiven us from the cross. my prayer for you is to be released from this guilt since you did all that was required in apologizing. i pray that you can move forward now in your present life sharing with others too how great a salvation jesus has provided for us at calvary, all of our sins and offenses washd away by his holy blood. if you dont know jesus personal cleansing in your life you can by logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or by clicking talk to a mentor above. if you do then you can encourage your faith with exodus 34, micah 7.19, isaiah 43.25, luke 7, romanos 5.1 to 5 and ephesians 4.32. jesus bless you today!

  • Susan says:

    Tara,

    I am sorry to hear your situation. I know, it is not easy. But, what I am trying to say is, if he is left you forever then why do you want to go after him. You said sorry and your part is clear now. You don’t spoil your health.

    Let me pray for you.

    Father God,

    Pray for Tara, comfort her, fill her with Your peace. Lord, she really needs Your strength and I pray that You protect her. Thank You for hearing our prayers.

    Tara, I’ll continue pray for you.

  • Sharon says:

    thank you for this posting good one for my spouse it works but not always with other people I said some thing I thought it was just a question and this person took as an insult I did apologize but this person didn’t accept it still haunts me to this day but this person I worked with years ago so I have no way to get a hold of this person I bless this person when I think of this person

  • Tara says:

    I hurt someone deeply, non-intentionally and they have walked out of my life. I tried in all the wrong ways to say I was sorry. But through tears, emotions, calls and emails, the words never resonated or came through the way I intended. I was scared about having a biopsy. He was upset that I was asking him to listen to me and not analyze me. He is a MSW – so he doesn’t think people should explain. I am a Professor, and I feel under certain circumstances and explanation is needed. I didn’t tell him then how scared I was to have yet a second lump removed from my breast. So, this huge argument “on the phone” became a mountain out of a molehill. I like to write, so I wrote on Facebook, without names, how important it is to not call people names and analyze that their friends don’t like them — because at the time “you do not like them.” A person “liked” the post and said people who call people names is a jerk. My sweetheart was the only person who knew it was him — no one else knew — no names were mentioned. And he has left me forever. I posted the story to share how it is wrong to call people names during an argument. Which is what he had done to me. But I didn’t leave the relationship — He left me. And he knows I had the biopsy. He knows I went through treatments — but I am so sad to think that this person is so hurt by the FB post — that he didn’t care about my health — my recovering or us. What can I do to say I am sorry. Sincerely from the heart sorry. I’ve taken on so much of the blame in my heart and to God for the breakup. I am dumbfounded on what to do — I do need to offer an apology that he will understand.

  • Kate says:

    We do suffer in this world. We are living in a world that is broken, full of people that are broken and warped by sin. We are not going to get free of our suffering in this world, God has said we will have to endure and persevere, trusting Him despite how we feel and what happens. This is why it requires FAITH – we believe, we trust, we place our hope in Him and know by FAITH that He will, in time, work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him.

    God is not a vending machine. We cannot pray and then expect God will turn out a solution like a candy bar dropping out when we put in our coin. God is GOD. We seek Him and He is WITH us, and His being with us, His not forsaking us, His being faithful to us brokendown sinners, that is LOVE. He puts Himself forward and dies for us, He is crucified as a sinner when we are the sinners, that is LOVE. He doesn’t owe us anything, but He sticks with us and He has saved us and that is the reason I LOVE Him and put my faith in Him.

  • Susan says:

    Silk,

    Never say, God is allowing you to suffer. God is asking you to commit your life to Him. Can you do that? God is asking you to walk and live the way He expects. He is a loving God Silk. He still loves you and cares for you. But His ways far from our ways. Without God’s knowledge a single hair will not fall from our head. He knows everything and we cannot hide anything from Him…He created this universe. His wisdom is beyond our imagination; He created us fearfully and wonderfully; Yes He loves you. Believe this my friend. And start follow what He says.

    Father God,

    Be with Silk, fill her with Your peace. Meet all her needs and bless her. Thank You for hearing our prayers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Silk says:

    Susan I was on my hands and knees last night, naked and in tears crying, praying to God for 3 things. None of them came true. In the same amount of pain as i am today as i was last night. Where is this so called LOVE. He just wants me to suffer. And suffering I am. Goodbye.

  • Susan says:

    Silk,

    If she is not interested then you just forget about this. Why do you want to spoil and waste your life thinking about this? I remember once I have experienced the same situation. The man whom I loved was more interested in something status or I don’t know anyway, one day he called me and told me(this is before my marriage)that, “I am getting marry and he was talking something big about that girl etc…” Of course, I did feel bad and was not able to carry that shock. But, I was started thinking, if he doesn’t want me why should I thinking about that stupid past and spoil my life. Silk, it was not me..it was God..I am sure. I started (practicing myself) diverting my attention to Godly stuff like, listening to spirit filled Christian songs/sermons…continuously means I did not give space to think about my past. Today, I thank God for not getting marry to that person. After my marriage that person called me again and wanted to continue talking but I did not encourage that anymore.

    Silk, God is trying to get your attention and He wants to have fellowship with you. No problem about the past. Start a fresh today, commit your life to Jesus, ask Jesus to forgive all your sins and tell Him to take charge of your life. Follow His footsteps. God wants to save your spirit first and then the rest. Do you think that the Creator of this universe cannot give a right partner for you my friend? Yes, He can. Trust Him.

    Silk, I would encourage you to log onto, knowingjesuspersonally.com

    Let me pray for you.

    Dear Father God,

    II thank You for this time. Lord, I commit Silk in Your hand. Lord, guide your child and help him to focus on You. Lord, help Silk to experience Your love in his life. Thank You for hearing our prayers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Silk says:

    “Silk,

    May I know what you are going through? Please if you can share then clearly then I can help you with the help of Jesus.” Hi Susan. Truth be told I kind of didn’t know this was a really religious website, but then I saw Grow in Faith, Need Prayer, Know God, but by then it was too late. I just wanted “practical” not “spiritual”. Anyway I’m just going through depression and anxiety over this girl. She’s driving me crazy I can’t get her out of my head and heart. Basically I got angry with her because she rejected me. Then I got depressed went to apologise to her she rejected said I was angry at apologising. Kept asking why are you sorry? She left on a high I have been on a low for 3 months she even threatened to call the cops if I contact her with notes saying I’m sorry. In all essence she is my darkness and light. I love hate her. I think I’m going crazy. In so much pain. I don’t know it’s a long story. Is that enough. And as for Chris and Doris. Thank-you but I gave up on Christ and God a couple of years ago. Lost my faith in Him. So as much as you mean well and your hearts in the right place I just don’t trust Him or anyone anymore. I know this has happened to millions of people throughout time but I’m sick of it. When is it my time?!? When do I get to be happy. When?!? So as for Christ and God? Thanks but no thanks. :)

  • Chris says:

    silk…sorry to hear of your struggles…it really helps to see life and relationships the way jesus has taught us to and that is by realzing that God alone is the one with the right to join us in this life with a mate of his choice. as we allow God to guide and direct us and we are willing to give jesus our lives and hearts, then we will be able to be free from one person having such emotional control and domination over us because that is no way to live. our emotions can wreck us but through jesus and the power of the holy spirit, we can be free from their control and being attached to someone who most likely isnt even Gods will for us. for more information on knowing jesus in a powerful and saving way and to be able to live the plan for your life he has for you log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i pray you open your heart to jesus today and begin living freely from the control of any person that jesus hasnt sent to you amen

  • Susan says:

    Silk,

    May I know what you are going through? Please if you can share then clearly then I can help you with the help of Jesus.

  • Silk says:

    “Perhaps try to do things that will rebuild that trust with the other person.” Like what for example? Please I am desperate. I am willing to try anything to get this girl which is/was a friend in my life again. Please give me an example what can I do. I’m begging you. I’m in so much pain.

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Silk,
    I’m sorry to hear that those apologies didn’t work in your case. There are a number of different reasons for that I suppose….perhaps the person that you were apologizing too wasn’t ready to accept the apology, or was too deeply hurt. Unfortunately it takes two people willing to move on for an apology to work. If the person that was offended doesn’t want to accept your apology there really isn’t a lot you can do. Relationships are built on trust and once the trust bank is empty it’s hard to move on. Perhaps try to do things that will rebuild that trust with the other person.

  • Silk says:

    Did all those 5 things, didn’t work! Total B.S.!

  • Chris says:

    max…i regret to hear of your struggles. we all long for that reinforcement, encouragement and love from our mates however as 1 peter 3 says in the bible, they are the more fragile vessel compared to men and that is why we as men have been called to care for them and love them as jesus loves us, unconditionally. there is no husband freer in this earth, than the one who has learned that his strength and security comes from his relationship with jesus as his lord and savior. that man is truly the most complete man in the earth, he who has learned to give and expect nothing in return. to make despits without withdrawls. to bleed like christ but thereby to experience resurrection life and power. the flesh, ego, masculinity and selfish nature will always seek the easy way. if that were the right way, jesus would have never had had to suffer on a cross. he invites us to take up ours and to follow him too. if you would like more information on having the power of christ in your life and on having a victorious life regardless of who, what or how things are going on around you, log onto…knowing jesus personally.com or click, talk to a mentor above. i pray for you max that you would know him who has called you to his high calling in this world so that you would please him in all things, be the father he wants you to be and the husband he is to the church. amen!

  • max says:

    check this out, my wife has offended me in huge ways that have affected our lives negatively in big ways,never once in 5yrs have i received a heart filled thank you or sorry,,man i have asked her,explained to her,and yelled at her to understand that i needed it,i’ve told her that we will be much happier if she would just validate what i have done for her because she told me its what she wanted,and she would just quit,she has never understood or her EGO is so out of proportion so much that the damage is worth it to her.now im going to divorce her and we have very young kids,,do you think i should learn to deal with my pain and stay?

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Gifty, here is another article that I think will be of great value to you.

    http://powertochange.com/experience/sex-love/prayspouse/

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Hi Gifty, learning how to communicate with your husband is vital to a healthy relationship. Perhaps you may gain further insight by reading “The Five Love Languages” by: Gary Chapman

    Also, here are a few links that Doris posted on this article that may be of help to you as well.
    http://powertochange.com/studies/introduction-to-love-languages/ or watch this video http://powertochange.com/itv/family/communication-in-marriage4/.

    Father God, I pray for gifty and her husband. I ask that You would begin to soften her husbands heart so that they can begin to communicate in a healthy way. May Your Holy Spirit teach gifty how best to communicate to her husband during time of stress, difficulties, and storms of life. May they come to know how beneficial it is to communicate with each other as You would have them…the rewards are endless as they draw closer to one another rather allow differences remain between them. In Jesus’ name, Amen

  • Gifty says:

    It doesn’t work like that all the time,what of we those who have difficult husband

  • Chris says:

    yvonne…i am sorry to hear of your relationship struggle. sometimes people do need time to get back up on their spiritual feet but two weeks does seem a bit much without communicating. why not you call him? perhaps he is sick or has had an accident. we should never assume any of our loved ones are ok without verifying that. at this point, its really not important about him calling you but rather being sure of his own well being. who knows, perhaps that is what he needs to get back into the swing of things and let whatever happened stay in the past. however if not, you can be assured that God has the right mate for you. these trying times are the fire that can prove whether or not we are connected to the right person or not as well. as proverbs 3 says…trust in the lord with all your heart and dont lean on your own understanding. in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. if you need more information on knowing christ more personally log onto…knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. my prayers are with you!

  • Yvonne says:

    This is what my lover replied when I told him, I’m sorry that I over reacted I will guard against that in the future. He replied, “I know you are” but he still will not communicate with me. Its been two weeks. What is going on?

  • Susan says:

    Hi Pat,
    I know it’s not easy when your husband become tensed and says he don’t trust you anymore. Pat, why not try like this, when your husband is not tensed, ask him, “do you know how much it hurts me, when you say you don’t trust me; ask him, do you really trust me or love me” . And on the other side, you keep praying for him. I am sure, God hears our prayers. What do you say about this Pat?

  • Pat says:

    I have done things that hurts my husband, he says he forgives me but he always keep on reminding me and say he’ll never forget. Sometimes he just became tensed out of no reason saying when he think of those things he don’t trust me anymore. I have ask for forgiveness and restored by God but with my husband that doesn’t change anything. I don’t know what to do anymore.

  • Chris Landwerlen says:

    susan…i pray jesus continue giving you the ministry of his encoruagement. blessings!

  • Susan says:

    Great! I am glad to hear that it worked for you. Friend, may I know how that worked in your life so that I can also learn something from that…? or let me know how that helped in your life so that I can share your experience with others and they can be blessed…?

  • Susan says:

    The more we delay to apologize, we are opening doors for devil. So, the moment we realize it, we can always say, “I am sorry I spoke to you harshly. I know I have hurt your feelings. Will you please forgive me”? I am sure, this can strengthen our relationship with both with God and with each other.

  • computer says:

    Thank you so much it really worked!

  • Shelley says:

    Yes ! i agree with you, just like our Father forgives us when we mess up so we to must forgive others and except there apology.

  • rozhan says:

    that’s great thanks

  • Shelley says:

    Dear Father God
    Lord I lift up Bells to you at this time in her life, that You will comfort her in many ways, as she is seeking Your comfort in the area she is concerned about. In Jesus Mihgty name amen

  • bella says:

    Each time one of my family members gets upset with me all of my past mistakes I have done to this person is hashed over even if I have apologized . This has been going on for years. I am always told I did not own up to my mistakes or validate the persons feeling. I am at the end of my rope and can’t found or know the words to make it right. Thank you

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Andrea, your suggestions to Mercymicheal are awesome! It is so true that in our marriages we must talk about what is meant, what is most meaningful, and get to know our spouse. Knowing what is important to him helps us to better understand him and to show our love.

    Mercymicheal, do you know what your husband’s Love Language is? We have a couple of great articles on this. Why not check out http://powertochange.com/studies/introduction-to-love-languages/ or watch this video http://powertochange.com/itv/family/communication-in-marriage4/. When we understand how to communicate it opens the channels for better relationships.

  • Andrea Shair says:

    @mercymicheal – I would suggest having a conversationg with your husband, talk about the five kinds of apologies and then ask him what kind of apology is the most meaningful to him. As well as ask what his silence means. You cannot try to read his mind or guess his meaning as you’ll just never know for sure that way.

  • Mercymicheal says:

    Pls,i offend my husband and i ask him for forgiveness, but he didn’t say anything ,does it mean that he have not forgiven me?

  • otieno says:

    woow thats cool,i wish kenyans should lean from that.

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