Category: Apology

Requirement for Authentic Relationships

Authentic relationships require honesty. Bill said to his wife Martha, “I have felt for a long time that you don’t love me. I have felt that you demand many things from me, but give me little of your affection. So, I feel angry and cold toward you. I pray that we can learn to be open and work through our problems. I do not want to be controlled by my negative feelings.” Was this painful for Martha to hear? Absolutely, but Bill is giving her valuable information. If she wants to restore the marriage she will choose to listen and seek to understand his feelings. If she allows her own defensive feelings to control her, they will simply have another fight. Listening leads to understanding.

When Your Spouse Disappoints

What do you do when your spouse disappoints you? Guideline # 1—Guard your attitude and behavior. Martha suspected her husband Bill was having an affair. So, she said, “Bill I feel very angry and hurt when I think that you are seeing someone else. You say it is untrue. I want to believe you, but based on the past, I have a hard time believing.

At any rate, you know we cannot continue our marriage if you are having an affair. You will have to make that decision. In the meantime, I don’t want to be controlled by my anger. You know that I love you. With God’s help I will not spend my time attacking you.” Martha is choosing the high road and is not allowing her emotions to control her behavior. This is the road to reconciliation.

Q&A: Angry Spouse

Q: Gary, it seems like I can make my wife angry by doing the smallest things. Why is this?”

Gary Chapman: I can’t tell you why, but I can help you find out. Try to learn from each of the experiences. Whenever she responds in a defensive or angry manner follow up the next day with something like, “I wonder what we can learn from last night. I noticed that when I said _____ that you responded in a very negative way. It wasn’t my intent to make you angry. Therefore, what would be a better way to have expressed that … or what might have I have done differently that would have made it easier for you?” I think if you try to learn from each of those experiences, you’ll find out why she has those particular areas as hot spots. Additionally, you’ll find a better way to approach future conversations or situations in the process.

Q&A: Hope for the Separated

Q:  Gary. My husband and I recently separated and he is unwilling to listen to my reasoning.  Is there hope for our marriage?

Gary Chapman: Until your husband is remarried, there is hope for your marriage. Don’t ever give up until he marries someone else. Now having said that, I recognize that you cannot control your husband. There’s nothing you can do that is going to make him return. You or friends can put helpful books in his hands—like my book Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed which has helped many people come to a different perspective on their marriage. If they respond and come back to reinvest in the marriage, then I would encourage you to get counseling. Don’t just move back together.

Yes, your marriage can be restored. Trust God to work in his heart and allow him be free because God also allows him to be free.

The Healing Power of Apologies

In a perfect world, no one would need to apologize. But in an imperfect world apologizes are a necessity. The first step is admitting that you need to apologize. “I owe you an apology,” is a good beginning. Then, express your apology, and admit that your behavior was wrong. Ask them to forgive you. When you sincerely apologize, you will most likely receive forgiveness. When you fail to apologize you leave an emotional barrier between you and the other person. When is the last time you apologized to your spouse? Or, your child? If it has been more than a week, you probably need to say,  “I owe you an apology.” Time doesn’t heal hurts; apologies do.

Q&A: Bad Relationship with Father

Q: My fiancé has a bad relationship with his father. My friends say that this can be a big problem after getting married. What do you think?

Gary Chapman: If a fractured relationship with one’s father has never been dealt with—yes, it’s going to show up in his behavior and very likely be a problem. Ideally, everyone needs a father with whom they had a loving relationship as a child and now as an adult they can reach out and seek advice from time to time. However, we don’t live in an ideal world and he didn’t choose his father. He may or may not have been the one to cause the fracture, but I would encourage him to work through the difficulty, seek to reach out to his father, and rebuild that relationship. Additionally, I think it is important enough to delay a marriage while this process takes place.

Q&A: Loving People who Disappoint

Q: “Gary, I struggle with loving other people as they always disappoint.  How can I work on this?”

A: The only way to avoid being hurt is to stay away from relationships. The reality is that there is going to be pain, hurt, and disappointment in all human relationships. This is because we are imperfect. None of us are loving all the time. We are by nature self-centered and often selfish. Consequently, we hurt each other—most of the time unintentionally. The fact is that if you’re going to have relationships, you’re going to have times that you will be hurt. You have to accept that. Then, when you do feel hurt or wronged, you lovingly confront and try to work through that difficulty so the relationship can continue on down the road.

Two Small Sentences

“I made a mistake.” “I was wrong.” Two of the most important sentences you will ever learn. There are no perfect wives, no perfect husbands, no perfect children and certainly no perfect parents. Healthy families do not require perfection, but they do require the willingness to admit when you do wrong.

When Dr. Jennifer Thomas and I wrote the book: When Sorry Isn’t Enough (May 2013), we discovered that for some people, this is what it means to apologize. If you don’t admit that you were wrong, they feel that your apology is insincere. The next time you need to apologize, you might use those words: “I made a mistake.” “I was wrong.” It might make it easier for your spouse to accept your apology and forgive you.

I was Wrong

I remember when my son was about six years old. He accidentally knocked a glass off the table. It fell broken on the floor. I looked at him, and he said, “It did it by itself.” I smiled and said, “Let’s say that a different way: ‘I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.’” He smiled and said, “I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.” He had learned an important lesson:  accept responsibility for your behavior.

I know adults who have never learned that lesson. They are still saying, “It did it by itself.” Here’s an exercise for you: Stand in front of the mirror and say, “I was wrong.  I was wrong.  I was wrong.” Say it until it feels comfortable. Then, use it when you know that your behavior was inappropriate.

Learning To Say “ I Was Wrong”

We all make mistakes. Some of us are willing to admit it and apologize. Others deny, or rationalize their wrong behavior. I agree with Dr. Spencer Johnson who said, “Few things are more powerful than having the common sense, wisdom, and strength to admit when you’ve made a mistake and to set things right.” If you have trouble saying, “I was wrong.” It probably started in your childhood. Perhaps your dad never apologized, so you got the message that real men don’t apologize. In reality, to rationalize your wrong behavior is a sign of weakness. It means that you are not willing to accept responsibility for your mistakes. Learning to say, “I was wrong” is a major step toward becoming a responsible and successful adult.

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