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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31 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • 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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