5 Apologies That Always Work

Written by Andrea Shair

My husband is 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 Spiritual Destiny With This Apology

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169 Responses to “5 Apologies That Always Work”

  • Cindy says:

    i got some nasty test message in I’m husband phone, wen I confront him after an hour he send me an sms saying his sorry for all that happen, I found it very difficult to forgive him or reply to his sms. please what should I do.

  • Sharon says:

    good article and good comments on this thread God bless you all

  • david hernz mendoza says:

    thank you very much

  • Elkay says:

    Shiv, by all means you should write your letter of apology to the person whom you slapped. You say you “really are sorry you caused injury” and that you know there is no excuse for this. Scripture tells us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18) and such a letter, written sincerely and, most importantly also asking forgiveness, may be a step in healing for both parties. I will leave this next suggestion up to you, but you might ask her to please share your letter with her mom if she wants to rather than you directly sending the letter to her mom. I say that because your friend might see a separate, direct letter to her mom as signaling “mixed motives”.

    Kay, the reason people mention God is because His wisdom and ways are perfect and are thus far superior to any person’s. “God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.” (Ps 46:1, CEV) Further, Jesus knew fear and anxiety, physical suffering, hunger, cold, and sadness and He wept. Thus He understands our problems well and knows the best possible path forward for us to take.

  • kay says:

    Why does everyone keep mentioning god? From reading these stories, there is no mention of anything to do with religion, so why do people think including god in the answer will help solve anything?? Real advice is wanted, not a vague answer.

  • Shiv says:

    Hi,

    Last summer, I fell out with a friend of many years. We had both grown apart anyways but it ended up on really bad terms. And I made an action which I have thought about everyday since.

    Basically we were drunk and I snapped over something and slapped her in the face. Needless to say that was a really poor choice. I have been on a path of healing for many years fromany things and yet I let that rise in me.

    No matter what she said or did it gives no excuse to slap. Even if I was drunk. I let my wounds wound another.

    Although I don’t think it’s good for either of us to be friends again I still think I owe a letter of apology. I also want to address this to her mam. Because her mam was so good to me throughout the years and I hurt her daughter which hurts her.

    I’m just afraid. I know how unforgiving this girl is and her words cut likes a knife. It takes a lot to be vulnerable and I don’t want to be cut again. Please help…

    Also is this a tad selfish in a sense? As I am not seeking the friendship back (I think we’d both need to work on ourselves…Not just me). Selfish in a sense that I want to clear my conscience…That I need forgiveness. But I really am sorry I caused I jury. I know a slap can cause a lot of emotional wound too. And the fact that this girl finds it hard to forgive is another worry. It will eat her up and pain spreads…:(

    I really regret this choice. And I really hope this path or healing g helps me to never make such a poor choice again.

    Help….Should I send this letter??

    Shiv

  • Elkay says:

    Lass, what I am about to say may seem harsh but it is said with your best interests at heart. Please believe that. After reading between the lines in your post, I am not sure where you are with your bf . . . but do hear this: God created marriage as a sacred institution in which man and woman become one in His eyes, reflect His image and worship and serve Him. Anything other than that dishonors Him. This can only be successful if both of you are unselfishly committed to one another, no matter what, and this includes both of you being very open with one another and quick to forgive. If this does not describe where the two of you are, then it may well be better to back off and wait until good changes come about or break it off. Better to cry now than to be broken-hearted later.

  • Aldo says:

    Brandon, please read the article, and put the five languages of apology that Dr. Gary Chapman details into practice, and see if that helps your relationship.

    Also, any time you would like to chat one on one with a mentor click the Talk to a mentor button at the top right of this page. Someone will be happy to chat with you about your situation. And, it is all free and confidential.

  • Aldo says:

    Lass, I would like to know if you believe this bf is the one the Lord has chosen for you.

  • brandon says:

    hi my friend and i got into a pretty heated fight tonight she is on the verge of unfriending me completely please help me!!!

  • Lass says:

    Someone plz help me… Me and my bf have been in a relation for one year now. We text each other almost everyday ..we usually dont sleep without chatting. We had exams the last week, and he hasn’t been online as often. He said that was to avoid distracting me. I didnt like not chatting with him but I couldn’t help. Yesterday after the exam I msged him and waited for his reply. He replied after around 3 hrs. And the next msg almost after the same interval. I got so angry thinking he is avoiding me or he is not missing me like I miss him and all that. So when was going to text him hood night, he was online. That added more fuel. I was so angry I decided to give him the cold shoulder so he realizes that my worth. I didnt chat properly giving all short msgs. I didnt ask him why he wasn’t online the whole day. He asked why I was behaving like that but I didnt say. I just said good night n left. I knew it was going to hurt him. But not as much as it did. It wasn’t over with that. I msged him this morning, afternoon n evening but there was no reply. I called him but no reply. I thought he was intentionally avoiding my calls n msgs n all. I msged him telling if he doesnt want me, we can break up. I really didnt mean it. Now he msged me telling that he was sick n in the hospital and his phone was in his room. He said he was not well yesterday and he wanted to tell me that but I didnt let him. And now he is so heartbroken. He said he doesnt want to torture me anymore, I can go n have someone who will take better care of me. I said I’m sorry but he is not listening. And I’m not knowing what to do.

  • Sharon says:

    to shirly my sympathy to you for the break up of your family prayer father God I do pray for reconciliation and forgiveness in your family I pray for a miracle for you this Christmas season. have you asked forgiveness if you did anything wrong and are you a Christian? you can keep praying for God to open their eyes to see the truth. I am praying for you— sharon

  • shirly chwalowski says:

    I would really like to talk to you. Our family has been broken up. Please talk to me to see how and what I can do to help put it back together again. [it is our policy not to publish personal contact information]

  • Raja Ali says:

    I want to seek some advice, anyone who can relate or anyone who can help me find peace would be appreciated! I had a situation with my gf 3 days ago, i was in Uk and my gf was in china, we’ve been together for almost 2 years, I’m a very honest and loyal person, so is my gf! But she’s extremely insecure about other women, even my old friends and sometimes even family! We lived together for most of our relationship but i moved out 3 months back cause she’s doing her major and I’m working! During my time in Uk, i ended up meeting one of my female friends, my meeting wasn’t intentional but infact my cousin’s friends were having a get together! So rnd up seeing one of my old female friends there! She’s happy to see me and she’s in her nightdress and takes pics with me getting very close! I didn’t approve of it but couldn’t say anything because of other people being there! I left and asked her to delete those pics! I couldn’t tell my gf anything because i was afraid of how she overreacts for everything and makes me go through hell whereas i let her get away with anything cause i hate fighting! Now my gf somehow saw these pics on social media and she went crazy which i truly understand! But i panicked and couldn’t tell her the truth even when the truth was so obvious! I was scared of her reaction and how much i would hurt her! I eventually ended up telling her 2 days back! I’ve been very apologetic and have done everything to convince her! She has used some of the harshest words imaginable and has cussed me and my family out and has made me get into depression by her words! I didn’t do anything intimate but she has constantly accused me of doing it! I have explained apologized and asked for forgiveness and even accepted any punishment that may come my way, but i feel so empty sad and alone! I feel so guilty that it’s becoming hard to live with myself! Please help me out with some advice if you can!

  • Aldo says:

    Hi Charlotte. What can I help you with? If you would like to chat one on one with a mentor, click on the Talk to a mentor button at the top right of this page. Someone will be happy to chat with you about any issue you may have, and it is all free and confidential.

  • Charlotte says:

    Hi

  • Charlotte says:

    My friend used this website and her name is Aimee. She said it helped her a lot because she wanted to apologise but only the word sorry came to her

  • Aldo says:

    Jaj, quite often God, allows things to happen to us for our own good, even when we are not really living for Him or serving Him. His purpose for doing so is to draw us to Himself. What we need to do then is to enter into a “relationship” with Him through accepting and receiving His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That is because salvation comes by believing that Jesus Christ is the “only begotten son of God;” that he gave his life on the cross of Calvary to pay the price for your sins and the sins of all mankind; and that if you believe and confess that you will be saved.

    Jaj, if you would like to confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord right now, here is a suggested prayer. Remember, God is not as concerned with the words you use, as He is with the attitude of your heart.

    “Dear God, I admit I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness; I believe that Jesus Christ 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 everlasting life, in Jesus name, Amen.”

    Jaj, I hope you have said that prayer. If you did, Welcome to the family of God. If you have not, you need to do it if you desire to know God as your Savior.

    I pray that you make the right decision.

  • Sharon says:

    to Gracie thank you and you welcome I reckon you did your part. now its his to digest on your apology and if he doesn’t come back that is his issues it will be sad I am sure if he doesn’t come back but I pray that he will come back to you I pray for a miracle for you I will keep praying for you.– sharon

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