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


60 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • 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:


    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:


    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:


    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.

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