5 Languages of Apology

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I hear a lot about Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages and I believe this book is very helpful. But Dr. Chapman (along with co-author, Jennifer Thomas) also wrote The Five Languages of Apology and understanding these five are equally as practical and necessary, yet they often overlooked.

Gary Chapman’s 5 Apology Languages:

  1. Language #1: Expressing Regret or “I am sorry.”
  2. Language #2: Accepting Responsibility or “I was wrong.”
  3. Language #3: Making Restitution or “What can I do to make it right?”
  4. Language #4: Genuinely Repenting or “I’ll try not to do that again.”
  5. Language #5: Requesting Forgiveness or “Will you please forgive me?”

When I’m hurt, it’s as if a huge chasm develops between me and my husband. So what my husband says to me in his apology is very important to bridging the divide. It helps me to drop my guard and gives me the desire to move closer to him once again.

My husband can get angry very quickly, but he’s also very quick to apologize. His emotional responses move at lightning speed compared to mine—being slower to get angry and, unfortunately, slower to apologize. So when my hubby apologizes I’m always wondering if he’s really sincere, because it seems impossible for me to “get there”—to jump that chasm—as fast as he has. I need specific words or actions that remove my doubts.

You probably have a preference in what you need to hear in order to move more quickly toward embracing your spouse’s apology as well.

Additional questions to help clarify what your language is:

  • What do I expect the person to do or say?
  • What hurts most deeply about this situation? (What do you want to receive from your offender?)
  • What language is most important when I apologize?

You might want to hear more than one of the Apology Languages to feel satisfied. I know, I do. I appreciate hearing Language #2 “Expressing Regret” and Language #3 “Making Restitution” when someone, especially my spouse, apologizes.

If you are able to express and hear the appropriate apology language being spoken, you and your spouse will more quickly move toward healing your wounds and regaining emotional closeness—bridging that gap caused by the offense. Consider getting the book and discussing this important aspect of good communication with your spouse today!

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” –Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

What about you? Which of the languages do you feel you most need to hear?

What makes that language important to you?

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  • Hey Beth – I was so excited to see your review of The Five Languages of Apology because I met and interviewed his co-author Dr. Jennifer Thomas last spring …

    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2012/02/talking-with-dr-jen.html
    And any of those Five Languages books are really fabulous!

    • I must have missed that post, Linda. I’ll go hunting for it over at your place next. I always love a good interview! Thanks so much for your kind words and for linking up my friend!

    • jenniferthomas

      Ladies, thank you both for your blogs about my work on apologies with Gary Chapman. You and your readers can learn about our latest project at http://www.drjenthomas.com. I also have a sign-up link there for my free monthly relationship advice e-newsletter.

      • Thanks so much for coming by, Jennifer and letting us know about your latest project. I’ll be sure to direct my readers to your site and the newsletter!

  • Hey Beth – I was so excited to see your review of The Five Languages of Apology because I met and interviewed his co-author Dr. Jennifer Thomas last spring …

    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2012/02/talking-with-dr-jen.html
    And any of those Five Languages books are really fabulous!

  • GailBP

    I really like this list of apology languages. I’ve never heard them so concisely and logically organized. I suppose the one that is most important to me is “I was wrong,” because I really hate an apology with an excuse attached. But each type of apology is important, depending on the situation. Sometimes I extend #4 and ask my husband to pray for me in the area where I’ve sinned.
    Thanks for sharing these.

    • You and me both, Gail. I think taking responsibility and not making excuses really brings freedom to the equation. We are free to move forward and no longer dwell on the hurt. Of course, choosing to forgive, regardless of an apology does that as well–but is much harder. Thanks for coming by, linking up and sharing a bit of encouragement with me, sweet friend!

  • GailBP

    I really like this list of apology languages. I’ve never heard them so concisely and logically organized. I suppose the one that is most important to me is “I was wrong,” because I really hate an apology with an excuse attached. But each type of apology is important, depending on the situation. Sometimes I extend #4 and ask my husband to pray for me in the area where I’ve sinned.
    Thanks for sharing these.

  • Beth, I haven’t read the book yet. it looks like a great book!

    I’m quick to speak # 1, and often want to skip #2. In my marriage am the one with swifter emotions..it’s so true, quick apologies leave the even tempered spouse suspicious. Mine gets irritated as well : ) It’s taken time (and we are still learning) to begin to learn each others hearts. thanks for these, I enjoy reading and growing from these “nuts & bolts” insights so much. blessings!

    • Yes, my husband and I used to always say, “I’m sorry” and still often do. But I always feel like this doesn’t tell me what he’s sorry for. So I like a follow up statement. So when I read this book, it really helped me to understand why I feel that way. Thanks so much for your kind words, Ngina. I always love having you visit here (and linkup) here in this place!

  • Beth, I haven’t read the book yet. it looks like a great book!

    I’m quick to speak # 1, and often want to skip #2. In my marriage am the one with swifter emotions..it’s so true, quick apologies leave the even tempered spouse suspicious. Mine gets irritated as well : ) It’s taken time (and we are still learning) to begin to learn each others hearts. thanks for these, I enjoy your “nuts & bolts” insights so much. blessings!

  • Ryan Bedenkop

    Delighted to stumble over tonight. Splashing around and loving every minute. This looks like a refreshing place to dip my toes into some serious goodness.

    Marriage can get messy at times. Beautifully messy. I will be back.

    Splashing,

    Sarah

    http://www.justsarahdawn.blogspot.com

    • I’m delighted you found MM, Sarah! It’s a pleasure to have you. I’ll have to check out your place as well. And yes, marriage really is “beautifully messy.” Love it!

  • Ryan Bedenkop

    Delighted to stumble over tonight. Splashing around and loving every minute. This looks like a refreshing place to dip my toes into some serious goodness.

    Marriage can get messy at times. Beautifully messy. I will be back.

    Splashing,

    Sarah

    http://www.justsarahdawn.blogspot.com

  • OutnumberedMom

    I know that huge chasm — and I HATE it! These are great ideas, Beth. The book looks great.

    • I do too, Laura Lee. And I’m so glad that this book provides an answer why and a way to correct it more completely. Thanks so much for stopping by and linking up! Love seeing your smiling face! 🙂

  • OutnumberedMom

    I know that huge chasm — and I HATE it! These are great ideas, Beth. The book looks great.

  • Nan

    I have never read either of those books. But I love how he lays out those five steps of an apology. I notice there’s no 6th step for justification, lol!

    Don’t we always want to say “I’m sorry, but YOU did such and such?” There’s no “I’m sorry BUT…..” and it’s hard to admit that! 😉

    One of our sons especially struggled with wanting you to understand his reasoning behind whatever decisions he made when he was younger.

    It always sounded like he was defending his actions when he was really trying to explain them and we kept having to explain the whole “I’m sorry” process, lol!

    Thanks so much for hosting today!

    • Oh, yes, the 6th step! lol! I think justification is sadly the choice I want to make, but often find that I end up apologizing for much more than when I started! 🙂 Thanks for encouraging me and giving me a good laugh as well, Nan. So nice to have you here, my friend!

  • Nan

    I have never read either of those books. But I love how he lays out those five steps of an apology. I notice there’s no 6th step for justification, lol!

    Don’t we always want to say “I’m sorry, but YOU did such and such?” There’s no “I’m sorry BUT…..” and it’s hard to admit that! 😉

    One of our sons especially struggled with wanting you to understand his reasoning behind whatever decisions he made when he was younger.

    It always sounded like he was defending his actions when he was really trying to explain them and we kept having to explain the whole “I’m sorry” process, lol!

    Thanks so much for hosting today!

  • Nan

    I forgot to ask you, where do you get your lovely photos? What site do you use? Thanks!

    • This one was one my husband took of our middle son on our vacation out west. Most of my photos, however, are from “Creative Commons” on Flickr. But both my husband and I love photography. Just don’t always have the time to edit them. Thanks for your sweet words, though!

  • Nan

    I forgot to ask you, where do you get your lovely photos? What site do you use? Thanks!

  • I haven’t found a Gary Chapman book I didn’t like. I tout his book, Now You’re Speaking My Language, all the time. SImple, concise, and true to life examples and not full of psychobabble.

    Our personal languages for EVERYTHING make such a difference in how we communicate everything in life. You don’t have to have English as your second language to lack the ability to communicate effectively — it’s usually our own personal language that bogs us down!

    • Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, Amy. I’m still learning to communicate better. I may know the right way to communicate but sometimes my emotions hijack my best efforts! ha! Thanks for weighing in and linking up each week, Amy. I truly appreciate having you here in this space. 🙂

  • I haven’t found a Gary Chapman book I didn’t like. I tout his book, Now You’re Speaking My Language, all the time. SImple, concise, and true to life examples and not full of psychobabble.

    Our personal languages for EVERYTHING make such a difference in how we communicate everything in life. You don’t have to have English as your second language to lack the ability to communicate effectively — it’s usually our own personal language that bogs us down!

  • Sherry Lechner Jennings

    Marriages blossom and grow as we sow generous forgiveness!! Love this post- so often we get tangled up, mean well, but miss the richness of taking responsibility for the hurt we’ve caused, then seeking forgiveness. There’s little as intimate!! Thank you for sharing this, Beth!!

    • Oooh! I love that quote – “Marriages blossom and grow as we sow generous forgiveness!” Yes, it truly is a “richness” in taking responsibility, Sherry. There’s so much we miss out on when we don’t come fully forward with our sins to God and our spouses. Thanks so much for adding some great insights, my new-found friend!

  • Marriages blossom and grow as we sow generous forgiveness!! Love this post- so often we get tangled up, mean well, but miss the richness of taking responsibility for the hurt we’ve caused, then seeking forgiveness. There’s little as intimate!! Thank you for sharing this, Beth!!

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    Ah yes, the art of the apology! So necessary in all aspects of life. Thanks for sharing what you have learned and how it is helping you.

    Megan

    • Yes, it really is necessary and sometimes the last thing we want to do! ha! Thanks for coming by and linking up, Megan. I always look to see if you’re in the line-up, my friend!

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    Ah yes, the art of the apology! So necessary in all aspects of life. Thanks for sharing what you have learned and how it is helping you.

    Megan

  • ree_haas

    That is such a neat idea! I have never thought of it that way before. I think lack of communication in that area could be a big part of why I don’t feel like my husband really “gets it” when he apologizes. Thanks!

    • Yes, it really does communicate more than just the specifics of what they’ve done wrong, but it helps us to be assured that they feel our pain! That’s just so important to reconciling or resolving a conflict. Thanks, Ree, for coming by and encouraging me. Nice to meet ya!

  • ree_haas

    That is such a neat idea! I have never thought of it that way before. I think lack of communication in that area could be a big part of why I don’t feel like my husband really “gets it” when he apologizes. Thanks!

  • I must have missed that post, Linda. I’ll go hunting for it over at your place next. I always love a good interview! Thanks so much for your kind words and for linking up my friend!

  • You and me both, Gail. I think taking responsibility and not making excuses really brings freedom to the equation. We are free to move forward and no longer dwell on the hurt. Of course, choosing to forgive, regardless of an apology does that as well–but is much harder. Thanks for coming by, linking up and sharing a bit of encouragement with me, sweet friend!

  • Yes, my husband and I used to always say, “I’m sorry” and still often do. But I always feel like this doesn’t tell me what he’s sorry for. So I like a follow up statement. So when I read this book, it really helped me to understand why I feel that way. Thanks so much for your kind words, Ngina. I always love having you visit here (and linkup) here in this place!

  • I’m delighted you found MM, Sarah! It’s a pleasure to have you. I’ll have to check out your place as well. And yes, marriage really is “beautifully messy.” Love it!

  • I do too, Laura Lee. And I’m so glad that this book provides an answer why and a way to correct it more completely. Thanks so much for stopping by and linking up! Love seeing your smiling face! 🙂

  • Oh, yes, the 6th step! lol! I think justification is sadly the choice I want to make, but often find that I end up apologizing for much more than when I started! 🙂 Thanks for encouraging me and giving me a good laugh as well, Nan. So nice to have you here, my friend!

  • This one was one my husband took of our middle son on our vacation out west. Most of my photos, however, are from “Creative Commons” on Flickr. But both my husband and I love photography. Just don’t always have the time to edit them. Thanks for your sweet words, though!

  • Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, Amy. I’m still learning to communicate better. I may know the right way to communicate but sometimes my emotions hijack my best efforts! ha! Thanks for weighing and linking up each week, Amy. I truly appreciate having you here in this space. 🙂

  • Oooh! I love that quote – “Marriages blossom and grow as we sow generous forgiveness!” Yes, it truly is a “richness” in taking responsibility, Sherry. There’s so much we miss out on when we don’t come fully forward with our sins to God and our spouses. Thanks so much for adding some great insights, my new-found friend!

  • Yes, it really is necessary and sometimes the last thing we want to do! ha! Thanks for coming by and linking up, Megan. I always look to see if you’re in the line-up, my friend!

  • Yes, it really does communicate more than just the specifics of what they’ve done wrong, but it helps us to be assured that they feel our pain! That’s just so important to reconciling or resolving a conflict. Thanks, Ree, for coming by and encouraging me. Nice to meet ya!

  • Andrea

    We just had this discussion. My husband expects me to move on as quickly as he does after an argument.

    • Yeah, it’s really important for spouses to realize that we each move at different speeds sometimes. Might make for a great stand-alone post at some point! Thanks for always providing lots of inspiration, Andrea! Love ya!

  • Andrea

    We just had this discussion. My husband expects me to move on as quickly as he does after an argument.

  • Yeah, it’s really important for spouses to realize that we each move at different speeds sometimes. Might make for a great stand-alone post at some point! Thanks for always providing lots of inspiration, Andrea! Love ya!

  • Melinda (Auntie Em) at Auntie

    Beth once more you and I are on the same page! I love the love languages! Thanks so much for your linkup.

    • Yes, great minds think alike. So, tell me, what are “we” writing about this coming week, Melinda? haha! Thanks for coming by and linking up, my friend!

  • Melinda (Auntie Em) at Auntie

    Beth once more you and I are on the same page! I love the love languages! Thanks so much for your linkup.

  • I’ve learned to stop stewing and start praying for God to soften my husband’s heart toward an apology. Amazing, it actually works. God is real and trustworthy. Why did it take me the first decade of marriage to figure this out in regard to apologies?

    • Yes, I take that tack too as well as praying for my own stubborn heart to soften. It’s amazing what God can do to bring perspective and peace to a situation, isn’t it, Becky? As far as taking time to learn, maybe those are the best lessons. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

  • I’ve learned to stop stewing and start praying for God to soften my husband’s heart toward an apology. Amazing, it actually works. God is real and trustworthy. Why did it take me the first decade of marriage to figure this out in regard to apologies?

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    My husband also gets angry very quickly. But it takes ages to get me angry. I seldom get angry and for that I am grateful. I think it is because I have learned to put healthy boundaries around myself. My husband never apologizes, BUT his sorrow is expressed in his whole attitude and the way he treats me afterwards. To me that counts much more than words. I am sorry to hear that you are also often misunderstood about your RA! I know it is so hard.
    God bless you, Beth.
    Mia

    • I need some lessons from you, Mia. I do set boundaries as well, but don’t always set them with the right attitude. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I “like” to be angry! Yeah, I know, it’s crazy! 🙂

      And as far as your husband’s concerned, I’m so glad that he lets you know his regret. They say that body language is 55% of the message or more! So I’d say he’s getting his message across. 🙂

      Thanks for being an understanding ear about chronic illness, Mia. I appreciate the way you minister to people in that way, my friend. Thanks so much for your sweet words!

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    My husband also gets angry very quickly. But it takes ages to get me angry. I seldom get angry and for that I am grateful. I think it is because I have learned to put healthy boundaries around myself. My husband never apologizes, BUT his sorrow is expressed in his whole attitude and the way he treats me afterwards. To me that counts much more than words. I am sorry to hear that you are also often misunderstood about your RA! I know it is so hard.
    God bless you, Beth.
    Mia

  • I need some lessons from you, Mia. I do set boundaries as well, but don’t always set them with the right attitude. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I “like” to be angry! Yeah, I know, it’s crazy! 🙂

    And as far as your husband’s concerned, I’m so glad that he lets you know his regret. They say that body language is 55% of the message or more! So I’d say he’s getting his message across. 🙂

    Thanks for being an understanding ear about chronic illness, Mia. I appreciate the way you minister to people in that way, my friend. Thanks so much for your sweet words!

  • Yes, I take that tack too as well as praying for my own stubborn heart to soften. It’s amazing what God can do to bring perspective and peace to a situation, isn’t it, Becky? As far as taking time to learn, maybe those are the best lessons. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

  • Yes, great minds think alike. So, tell me, what are “we” writing about this coming week, Melinda? haha! Thanks for coming by and linking up, my friend!

  • “When I’m hurt, it’s as if a huge chasm develops between me and my husband.” That is so true of me. I can sometimes have a quick temper, but it often takes me awhile to cool off. I need space to think through things and figure out (rationally) what I need and what most deeply offended me. My husband very slowly gets upset, and rarely gets angry (to the point where he has to leave), but he’s so quick to forgive and want to make up. To me this is seemingly impossible at times.

    I think the I’m sorry and asking forgiveness part is easy to say, but it’s harder to actually do. For me, the most important thing for my husband to do is accepting responsibility and making restitution. But I’m curious what he’d say is most important for me to do. I’m definitely going to bring this up – great conversation starter.

    Thanks for sharing, Beth. And thanks for linking up with Becoming His Eve Marriage Moments Mondays.

  • “When I’m hurt, it’s as if a huge chasm develops between me and my husband.” That is so true of me. I can sometimes have a quick temper, but it often takes me awhile to cool off. I need space to think through things and figure out (rationally) what I need and what most deeply offended me. My husband very slowly gets upset, and rarely gets angry (to the point where he has to leave), but he’s so quick to forgive and want to make up. To me this is seemingly impossible at times.

    I think the I’m sorry and asking forgiveness part is easy to say, but it’s harder to actually do. For me, the most important thing for my husband to do is accepting responsibility and making restitution. But I’m curious what he’d say is most important for me to do. I’m definitely going to bring this up – great conversation starter.

    Thanks for sharing, Beth. And thanks for linking up with Becoming His Eve Marriage Moments Mondays.

  • jenniferthomas

    Ladies, thank you both for your blogs about my work on apologies with Gary Chapman. You and your readers can learn about our latest project at http://www.drjenthomas.com. I also have a sign-up link there for my free monthly relationship advice e-newsletter.

  • Thanks so much for coming by, Jennifer and letting us know about your latest project. I’ll be sure to direct my readers to your site and the newsletter!