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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119 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • 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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