In my previous article 3 Ways Apologizing Turns into Shifting Blame I mentioned how we never want to be wrong. Therefore, it makes it hard to apologize. We may even see it as a weakness. This week I was doing some reading in “Things I Wish I’d Known before We Got Married” by Gary Chapman. Chapman actually says the opposite! In Chapter 6 he says “that apologizing is a sign of strength.” I, of course, had to find out more about this and continued to read.
Chapman explains that people hear apologies in different ways. Even though the apologizer may be honestly apologizing, the forgiver may not hear it unless it is spoke in their language of apology. This works similarly to speaking a person’s Love Language to make them feel loved. After reading these 5 ways to apologize I realized that, yes, it does take strength! Let’s look how strength plays a role in each of these apologizing languages.
1. Express Regret
- Saying, “I’m sorry.”
- To regret is to feel sad or unsettled that you have indeed hurt the other person. To feel this kind of regret about hurting someone else takes strength in recognizing you have caused pain to someone else.
2. Accept Responsibility
- Saying, “I was wrong.”
- In order to accept responsibility you must know that you have done something wrong. We are all human and sometimes do or say things that are demeaning to other people. We must take responsibility for these missteps, admitting it to ourselves and to others. That takes strength.
3. Make Restitution
- Asking, “What can I do to make it right?”
- Making restitution is sometimes hard to do. Not only do we know we did something that was not right, but now we are offering to make things right. It is no easy thing to leave it in the hands of someone else to tell us how we can make it right.
4. Genuinely Express the Desire to Change Behavior
- Asking, “How can I change?”
- To desire to change is saying aloud to the person that we want to change our behavior. It is no longer a thought in your head but someone else has heard about your desire to change. We now have someone to hold us accountable to our changes.
5. Requesting Forgiveness
- Asking, “Will you please forgive me?”
- To ask for forgiveness is totally and completely relying on the other person to forgive our wrong doing. We know that we can no longer do anything else. We only can hope that they give us the grace we are looking for so that we can move on from our wrong doing. Putting this faith in someone else takes strength.
Thankfully forgiveness granted after apologizing does allow many positive things to occur between the two people. The offender can be released of regret by the grace of the one forgiving. It allows the couple to move forward in the relationship without holding grudges. However, forgiveness does not mean there are no consequences. Our actions can change situations, create differences, or alter mental states. Simply forgiving someone may not immediately remove the consequences for his or her action.
Apologizing is a must in relationships! To be able to move forward in a positive marriage we cannot shift blame, but we must apologize. To say sorry or ask for forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. It indeed is a sign of strength!
Comment below: Which way is the best way for your spouse to apologize to you?