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

EmailPrint

79 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • Sharon says:

    to Pauline–can you talk to your husband about your feelings of your son and want to make it up to him and apologize to your husband are you able to read on what Elkay said to others I am sorry about your situation how rough for you can you ask your husband for his forgiveness and say sorry to him and ask for another chance for marriage I am praying for you both I am praying for forgiveness and reconciliation for you both– God be with you. sharon

  • […] sure how to make things right? Depending on the situation, different “apology languages” may apply. Dr. Gary Chapman details these languages in his book Things I Wish I’d Known Before […]

  • […] sure how to make things right? Depending on the situation, different “apology languages” may apply. Dr. Gary Chapman details these languages in his book Things I Wish I’d Known Before […]

  • pauline says:

    I fought with my husband november 1st about our son, on 4th november I tried to take my life, I was so in pain wanted My man to talk to me but he was in his own world.my husband want to leave me he chase me out of the house, I love him and still want to fix my marriage but he kEeps sAying he has moved on. How do I say I’m sorry??

  • Elkay says:

    Night, in your situation, the advice I gave Eida and Pushpa back on Jan 3rd seems to fit. Your the best approach might be to combine open honesty with a sincere apology and to ask to be forgiven. Use words like “I can’t believe I did/said that and I know it was wrong. You have every right to be angry with me and I am very sorry for what I did. Will you please forgive me?” That’s about all you can do because the other person must be willing to forgive you and want to move on.

    All situations are different so it is wise to ask God to help you understand the other person and to help you think of the best approach to use. Consider a prayer like, “Heavenly Father, You know all things about all people so I am asking for Your help. I hurt my partner by saying/doing wrongly. I am sorry and want to repair our relationship. Will You please help me know what, how and when to apologize and also let my partner realize how sorry I am. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

  • night says:

    My partner had his feelings hurt when i couldnt reply to a long beautiful message he sent me as i was at dinner. He is a very emotional sensitive amazing man and his feeling of rejection made him block me and ignore my calls all day so i vented to a friend and said [expletive removed] things, things i didn’t mean and he saw my conversation and i said it wasn’t about him stupidly because I knew the words were hurtful. How should I apologize to him?

  • Sharon says:

    to Funmilayo I am sorry to hear of your struggle prayer–Father God I pray for this lady right now I pray for a healing in this marriage I pray that the husband will see on how sorry she is I pray forgiveness and reconciliation with each other I pray that the husband will see on how sorry she is with her hurting words she said to him. can I ask to start if you can start trusting him and maybe he will see on how sorry you are and keep asking God if you can for a pure heart for you and him too forgiveness and reconciliation. I am praying for you both– sharon

  • funmilayo says:

    I don’t trust my husband and he made me understand that he don’t cheat on me but I didn’t listing and he hurt him so much that I don’t trust. I was fight with him since yesterday thinking he was dating a lady that keeps calling and today I found out that there are just school friends and my husband is angry with me and the words I said to him. How can I show him and tell him am sorry

  • rapheal. says:

    I saw a girl in my dream for four times. I know she’s engaged to someone. I later propose to her through chatting but she got angry. What kind of apology message can I send to her.

  • Elkay says:

    Eida and Pushpa, in both cases the best approach is to combine open honesty with a sincere apology and to ask to be forgiven. Use words like “I can’t believe I did/said that and I know it was wrong. You have every right to be angry with me and I am very sorry for what I did. Will you please forgive me?” That’s about all you can do because the other person must be willing to forgive you and want to move on.

    All situations are different so it is very wise to ask God to help you understand the other person and to help you think of the best approach to use. “Heavenly Father, You know all things about all people so I am asking for Your help. I hurt my friend by saying/doing wrongly. I am sorry and want to repair our relationship. Will You please help me know what, how and when to apologize and also let my friend realize how sorry I am. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

  • pushpa says:

    I Was in relation with a boy for 2 years he ditched me. I am in relation with other guy but past always become the issue for our fights… today i checked his profile from my bf id and he knew this.. i regret my past .how to apologize with him and how to gain trust again??

  • Eida says:

    okay well i got really upset this new year to my boyfriend, because we were planned to be together for the new years eve. But then his friends ask him to join them to be together for a few days, and he just ditched me even i said that he promised to be with me and that i want to be with him, then he declined and said that he’s going,so i got really upset and mad and said some bad things, and now im feeling very guilty but i dont know how to admit it or say it to him

  • Aldo says:

    Toya, it sounds like your boyfriend has made up his mind not to trust you again, so apart from a miracle, it seems like you have lost him. You can pray and ask God for a miracle, but you really want to be sure that he is the right one for you. Otherwise, you can pray and ask God for a mate of His choosing for you, and trust that He will bring about the very best for you. After all, He is God, and He loves you very much, so why not trust Him.

  • Toya says:

    Toya I texted random men on my what’s app and now my boyfriend don’t trust me and now he’s thinking about dumping me .. I have apologize so many times but it doesn’t seem to work.. he said I stabbed him in the back betrayed him. Can someone please tell me what I can do to make him see that I changed. Please

  • Tom Tom says:

    CHief–
    You’ve experienced (and I hope learned) that there are consequences to actions, and those consequences usually involve other innocent people. As far as your marriage relationship is concerned, you’ve broken the most sacred trust anyone can ever have. It’s going to be up to you to rebuild that trust but don’t expect it to happen overnight. You need to guarantee to your wife that you’ll never have anything to do with another woman again and then prove to her by your actions, not just your words, that you mean what you say. If the two of you are church members, I suggest you have a sit-down with your pastor and seek some guidance. Ultimately the only way for a complete restoration between you two will be if Jesus Christ is at the center of your marriage. Only he can heal all hurts.

  • Chief says:

    Hi, I’m 28 years of age, i stay with my Wife and 2 year old son icaused a big Problem in my family early september this year i slept with someone outside the that person she’s got STI because of my carelessness i gave it to my wife i didnt even know i had that thing, i really regret the moment i met that girl, so she wet to a GP for some check ups only to find out that she infected with STI then she came back home with the results…and now the she is so very angry with me she wants to leave me.. please help me how do i apologise to her reall i dont want to loose her

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Adel,
    Once trust has been broken in a marriage it is very difficult to get it back. The only way is to slowly build it back again by showing that you have changed and that your apology is sincere. In your case that is made so much more difficult because of your wife being away on a cruise ship. Start now, showing her that you care, that you love her and that you want to be trusted again and hopefully when she comes home between contracts she will see fit to come back to you. Don’t wait until she is back or it might just be too late.

  • Adel says:

    I uesd my hands with my wife and I’m sorry for doing it I don’t know how to fix I lost hop and I love so much it’s been 5month now that she away and she’s going cruise ship for long time 9month and I don’t wanna lose her she star that I won’t never love any one like

  • benjamin says:

    I have this girl as a friend that we work together, we have been good friends since she joined our company, we walk home together and I also assist her in her job when ever am free, but just this monday that talking to me I did not respond to her, she got upset. The next day I was trying to play with her by snapping her back she said she did not blame me, that is because she has been playing with me that is why. I got upset and left her. But this morning I try playing with her she said she will slap me, all I did was just to leave her. But I hv been thanking of apologising to her and what to tell her.

  • Tom Tom says:

    Bobby–

    Try sincerely saying to her, “I’m so very sorry. Please forgive me. I was very thoughtless of your feelings, and it won’t happen again. How can I make it up to you?”

  • Bobby says:

    I recently got into a fight with my girlfriend, she called to tell me that she might need back surgery and she felt like my reaction wasn’t compassionate enough towards her situation and now she is really upset with me as this is a really big deal to her and wants me to fix it somehow, what do I do?

  • Chris says:

    nzou….sorry for your situation….you see, marriage was not made to be in a long distance relationship. whether its for work or for some other reason, i would encourage you to find the way to live with your wife under the same roof because that is how God designed it to be. if not, it would be hard to say you are in any practical way, truly married to your wife since marriage means relationship, togetherness and unity. that isnt possible being seperated for any definite length of time. sometimes a man may need to travel for a week or so but any long-term traveling, i believe from a biblical perspective, should be ruled out for a married man. i would encourage you to let the bible be your guide in life by also receiving jesus as your personal lord and savior so you can live the life he has designed for you to live, together with your wife he has given you. for more information log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. praying for you that you would let God re-unite you with your wife on a permanent and physical basis and not allow anything, not even work, to seperate you as jesus told us in Matthew 19!

  • Nzou says:

    We are in a distance relationship. My wife had been accusing me of cheating on her and I reacted harshly. Now she is not picking up my calls neither is she responding to my messages. Truly, I have never cheated on her, but am beggining to doubt her commitment. I love my wife but I don’t know whether I should beg her or just ignore. Could this be a signal of a failing marriage? Should I walk out? Am heartbroken

  • Susan says:

    Jen,

    You have a good quality that is apologizing. Many people are struggling to overcome from this area. Their ego stop them from apologizing. But Jen, forgiving is also very important point. Think about, how Jesus forgave our sins. We were ready for hell but because of His love, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, today, we are out from that. Because, He forgave all our sins. So, it is important for us to forgive each other. If you depend God completely, He will give you the strength to overcome from this. He is a loving God.

    God bless you!

  • Susan says:

    Tiana,

    Very confusing…my friend, be careful and don’t be hurry for anything. Tiana, I encourage you to pray and ask God to guide you. If this person doesn’t want you to talk to him, then, please ask God to give you strength and ignore him. Tiana, you have your own dignitary and you are precious to God. God loves you and He promised us that,”He will never leave us”. Trust Him Tiana.

  • Tiana says:

    I really like this person in my class. He Said to me he didn’t want me to tell something bUT me and my friend did it wasn’t like it was bad my other friend was going to find out anyway but he is only mad at me I don’t know what to do I tried apologizing to hIM HE is just ignoring me and telling me to stop talking to him and I really want to Talk to him but I don’t know what to do The reason he is really madis because two people are mad at him and they’re not even that mad and they probably won’t even be mad at them tomorrow I’m hoping these things will clear up tomorrow but if they don’t I’ll be really UPSET.

  • Jen says:

    Eek! This is a reoccurring problem for me. I am pretty good at apologizing. I am not so great at forgiving. I know that we are expected to forgive whether or not a person is truly sorry. An apology is not a requirement for forgiveness… BUT knowing that and practicing that are two completely different things.

    I grew up with parents who never apologized- in an an of these ways. They weren’t terrible parents but could be uneccesarily cruel often times when they were displeased. This has resulted in the opposite from me- I am a total stickler for apologies. I make sure to apologize and expect others to do the same

    Unfortunately, my husband and his family are the type to brush arguments under the rug or just be extra nice later to try and make up for hurtful behavior. It leaves me feeling as if I am the only one who is ever in the wrong because I never get an apology! Thankfully, my husband is learning what I need from him. I just wish I could learn the whole “grave to forgive if I get an apology that is worded how I would like.” Because that is just as bad as not apologizing, really!

    Relationships are tough. :-)

  • Elkay says:

    Nelly, I am sorry to read about the situation with you, the child and the father and really would like to have the “right advice” to bring about a positive result. One thing the article said about apologies was that “This is where forgiveness has to be requested before the apology is seen as being sincere. Maybe you can try that and see if that will be received better by the father.

    You did not mention divorce so I assume you are not married. That does not change the fact that you are certainly correct to ask the father to get a job to help support his child. It appears he has rejected that idea and ended the relationship between you. Nelly, because of the personal nature of all this, I strongly recommend that you begin a private conversation with one of our mentors by clicking on the “Talk to a Mentor” button near the top, right of this article. May God bless you today with exactly what you need today.

Leave a Reply