How to Apologize Effectively and WW Linkup!

Apology in Marriage

I grew up in a home where apologies were rarely extended or witnessed. We were a loving bunch, but somehow this important practice of acknowledging our sins and apologizing to each other was never clearly present, at least not in my view.

Unfortunately, that also became true for my marriage in the early days. Gary {my hubby} was more likely the one to apologize, if there ever was one. But eventually God woke me up to the necessity for this cleansing practice—and now I’m hooked!

I feel like most people are like me. They didn’t have good examples of admitting guilt and/or apologizing. The survey I’ve been conducting with men in relationships is bearing this out. So far it seems that the number one factor for not knowing how to communicate in marriage is or was a lack of good role-models. {Please click here if you’re a man who’s interested in taking the survey!}

Where do you begin?

  • Recognize and embrace that every person makes mistakes and sins.
    The more you normalize this reality and take away the “stigma of shame” about the failures and hurts you may cause in marriage, the better and quicker you’ll be able to own your offensive behavior.
  • Ask for God’s help moment-by-moment.
    As soon as you feel tension in your situation, pray and ask God to show you your part. Then humbly accept that truth by confessing to God, and then to your mate.
  • Find friends who are open and vulnerable about their faults.
    If you hope to make this your new lifestyle and culture in marriage, then you’ll need to surround yourself with friends who can support you, pray for you in this, and hold you accountable to be honest, humble and confessional.

How do you express an apology?

There’s a great book on the different types of apologies that we gravitate toward and value, When Sorry Isn’t Enough by Dr. Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. Like the Love Languages that Dr. Chapman developed, not every person has the same “Apology Language” either.

Go here to the Love Language website to find out what you and your spouse’s apology languages are. I’m also providing an Apology Language Template that you both can use the next time you need to communicate your spouse’s preferred apology language.

When do you apologize?

If you are able to calmly and respectfully communicate an apology during a conflict, then more power to you! Pull out that template and share what needs to be said—yes, that means “reading it” to your mate! {Keep it in a “cloud” or “note app” of some kind, or simply print it out and have it handy wherever you are!}

I’ve found that in the heat of the moment my apologies often come out forced or tinged with bitterness. Typically, I need a bit of cooling down and processing before I can sincerely offer one—unless it is over minor matters and my “Amygdala” has not gotten hijacked! {Yep! That’s a real phenomenon!} It might be that you need that time as well, but don’t let it linger! Otherwise you might just chicken out!

And always remember . . .

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” ~Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

Did you get your apology profile? If so, what was your preferred apology language?

 

Why do you think it’s important to take the apology preferences of your mate into consideration?

 

If you’re interested in accountability and support from MM, consider joining the C.A.M. Club or “Confession & Apology in Marriage” Club. Click here to go to the Facebook page for this group. Click here for details on MM!

*Click on the link if you’d like to read more about the phenomenon of an “Amygdala Hijack.”

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, So Much at Home and Wholehearted Wednesday.

  • I love that you mentioned the “Apology Languages.” My husband and I definitely don’t have the same one! I seriously could care less if he never apologized ever again–they just aren’t important to me. Unfortunately, this means I often don’t even think to apologize when it IS important to him.

    • I hear ya, Brittany. I think some people are so easy going and non-confrontational that apologies simply don’t seem as important. But I bet once you began the practice with your hubby, you’d find the power of it–both in the giving and the receiving. It’s an area of marriage that sadly many couples never fully explore or commit to and in the end really miss out on the vulnerability and intimacy it builds. Thanks for your thoughts and linking up too, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Have to give the phone back to Barbara, but wanted to say that Apology Languages is a great concept!

    • Thanks for going to the effort, Andrew. I know these days every thing is a huge effort for you, my friend and it is all appreciated–especially the truth you continue to share at your place!

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  • Mary

    I did grow up with a family that apologized but it was more of “say you’re sorry” and not putting a whole lot of feeling or meaning behind it. It’s easy to say we are sorry but not so easy to forgive. I will need to look into apology languages because this sounds intriguing to me. Thank you for continuing this series and for the practical ideas and resources. What a treasure it is to learn from you. Much love as you journey through your Wednesday.

    • I just don’t think people knew better until recently, Mary. Even the Bible tells us to confess but not really specifically how to communicate an apology per se. Yes, it is very intriguing. I think I actually find this to be more important than the love languages, although they both hold great power to transform our marriages and relationships. Thanks for your kindness to me and I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

  • Beth,
    I love Dr. Chapman yet I had not heard of “When Sorry is Not Enough”. I will for sure be checking it out! Thank you for sharing a new resource that I am confident will be amazing! Thank you for hosting this link up for us each week!

    • It used to be called, The Apology Languages, Cassie. Maybe you’ve heard of that, perhaps? You’re welcome on the resource. I’m amazed that more bloggers don’t know about this book or the inventory. Thanks for linking up and joining the conversation too, my friend!

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  • I am like you Beth, most times if I apologize in the heat of the moment, it hardly comes out right. So I often wait to coll off… but I make sure to cool off fast.

    • Yes, learning to cool off faster is my focus and effort lately. As my husband and I have made this more and more of a part of our culture, it’s getting easier. I feel less defensive or fearful, so I can come to him sooner. Thanks for your encouragement, Ugochi!

  • Candy

    Thanks for not only sharing some great wisdom about the importance of apologizing, but also the great links to learn even more. 🙂
    Hope it’s ok that I shared a link that isn’t exactly a marriage post. Our contributor wrote the article about the importance of openness in friendship, but I think it’s applicable here, because, after all, aren’t our spouses our forever friends? And, of course, granting our spouse “permission to speak” is oh so important!
    Thanks for hosting again this week, Beth. I always enjoying your posts even when I don’t link up!
    ~Candy
    http://momsmorningcoffee.com

    • Oh, yes, Candy! Wedded Wed is open to any posts that bring encouragement and strength to our marriages and lives and learning how to open up with friends is part of that infrastructure we all need in marriage. Thanks for linking up and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

  • Mary Flaherty

    I love the love languages thing, but I never thought about having an “apology language.” Interesting. My love language is acts of service, but truthfully, when my husband attempts to apologize, he tends to “do things” to compensate and it drives me crazy. Just apologize! I’ll need to take some time to visit the website and to ponder this some more. Thanks for all the work you put into that template, Beth.

    • He’s probably trying to apologize to you out of what he values and is “his” apology language. When they don’t match, it can feel a bit awkward. That’s why these adjustments and shifting of perspectives is so important to apologizing and coming clean with our mates. I hope you do take time to visit the site and come back to tell me what your apology language ends up being. Mine is Accept Responsibility followed closely by Express Regret. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • I have one trick for prompting an apology from my own lips. I remember, “I will not let Satan get my marriage.” It crumbles my resistance every time!

    • Oooh! Good thought to keep in mind, Becky! We sure don’t want him to take advantage of our weak moments. And yes, I would think that would crumble my resistance too. We often forget that Satan is tempting us to argue or get angry with our mates because we think it’s all our mate’s fault. Sometimes they have a little help from Satan in a not so helpful way! 😉 Thanks for commenting, my friend!

  • I’m a big fan of Dr. Gary Chapman. I’m glad you introduced me to the apology language. Always love linking her. Blessings Beth!

    • Glad to introduce you to this other end of his amazing ministry. Thanks for your kind words as well, Carmen! I hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend, my friend!

  • I love Gary Chapman. My husband and I read his book together. I remember him being so surprised at his love language. It was no surprise to me. I love that man. Thanks for the link up, Beth.

    • Yes, Gary Chapman has done so much to strengthen marriages and open up dialogues and areas of marriage that were once misunderstood or ignored, Kim. Thanks for stopping by, linking up and encouraging me here in this space too!

  • Crystal

    Thanks, Beth, for pointing me to a great resource with the “Apology Language.” I’ll add that one to my to-read list. : )

    • Yes, it really is important to learn about and really paves the way for the confessional culture that I think is so essential to a healthy and intimate marriage, Crystal. Thanks for your encouraging words, my friend!

  • It is so true that apologies are a necessary part of any relationship. I find that when we don’t apologize, we begin to create a new normal. We start thinking it’s okay to do that thing we should be apologizing for. And that starts a sad, downward spiral in our relationship. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Good point, Terry. I do think it makes building a wall and disconnecting easier and easier too. Maybe that’s the “new normal” you’re speaking of and it’s not a normal I want in marriage, for sure! Thanks for adding a great insight to the discussion, my friend!

  • I will have to come back and go to the link for the apology language. Thanks so much for hosting today, Beth.

    • I hope it’s helpful to you and your hubby, Judith. Thanks for coming by and commenting. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, my friend!

  • David

    I did the quiz thinking “what do I care what they /say/!?” and I got 16/20 for Make Restitution 😀 nice quiz thanks. Is that what they call Neuro-Linguistic Programming?

    For apologising myself, your template will be helpful, as will asking Jesus to be with me.

    What kind of apology does my wife like? No idea. I think I have to show that I understand why she is upset.

    I love reading your blog 🙂

    David

    • Wow! I guess that tells you something–something that’s probably been missing whenever your wife apologizes, I bet! I, on the other hand, only scored a “1” on the Making Restitution part. I really don’t care if the other person does something to make it up to me. I simply want to know they are sorry for how it impacted me.

      Yes, I’d say this is a form or aspect of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, David. I don’t know that Dr. Chapman’s mode would be officially recognized as that or not, but it expresses its’ tenets.

      I do hope the template comes in handy and makes it a bit easier to formulate the words when those times come. And yes, asking for Christ’s help in those situations both before and after is the best way to approach it. It might even prevent the need for an apology, if we seek His help when we’re caught in the crossfire.

      I hope you show your wife the website and ask her to complete the profile. I think it’s a conversation starter at the very least and a game-changer at its’ best! Thanks for your sweet words of encouragement, my friend! I hope you’re doing well!

  • Kelly

    Hi, visiting from A Little R & R Linky Party. I grew up in a house where one parent would always be the one apologizing, and the other parent is now learning this lesson in life. It is truly cleansing to apologize for a wrong doing, and to be forgiven. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    • Well, I’m glad that at some point your other parent realized what a valuable practice it is. I agree also with your “cleansing” analogy, Kelly. I know that it removes the barriers that often begin to be erected, one by one throughout the years of a marriage that hides the hurts and avoids taking responsibility. It can be like walking into a hoarders house! Yikes! Better to keep the apologies coming all along the way. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion, my friend!

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