Category: Apology

How You Handle Anger can Make or Break Your Marriage

When you are angry, don’t assume that you have all the information, or that you know what the person meant by what they said.  Far better, to ask for clarification. You might say, “I may be missing something, but it seems to me that you didn’t keep your promise.” Now they have an opportunity to explain, or to apologize.

Getting additional information is always a sign of wisdom. Don’t jump to conclusions or believe the worst. It only takes a few minutes to get the facts. So, ask questions before jumping to judgments. “I need your help in understanding this,” is always a good way to begin.

Discover Your Past Failures

Most of us will admit that we are not perfect.

From time to time we say and do things that are not loving, kind, or helpful. In a marriage these failures build into walls of separation. If you would like to remove past failures, you must first identify them.

Get pen and paper and then ask God to bring to your mind the ways you have hurt your spouse in the past. Now, go to your children individually and ask them to tell you times when they have seen you being unkind to your spouse. Get ready, because children can be brutally honest. Then ask the same question to close friends who have had opportunity to observe your behavior.  This process can be painful, but it is the first step in dealing with past failures.

Q&A: What can I do if he won't apologize?

Question: Our son and daughter-in-law will not allow us to see the grandchildren. It stemmed from something my husband did last summer. He is not willing to apologize. What can I do?

Answer: That question makes me sad. I cannot imagine having no contact with my grandchildren. I am empathetic with this wife. I don’t know what happened, but if an apology would lift the barrier and he is unwilling to apologize, he needs help. I know he is not likely to go for help. So, I suggest you go for help. Tell him something like this: I love you too much to do nothing. I know that you do not want to deprive the grandchildren of their grand-father.

So, If you are not willing to apologize, then I’m going to see a counselor (or a pastor) and try to find help. I want you to go with me, but if not, then I’m going alone.” Then do it. This kind of tough love, may be what is needed to awaken him to reality. Life is too short to live with broken relationships. You might also give him my book, The Five languages of Apology, which gives real life illustrations of how an apology can restore relationships.

Q&A: What can I do if he won’t apologize?

Question: Our son and daughter-in-law will not allow us to see the grandchildren. It stemmed from something my husband did last summer. He is not willing to apologize. What can I do?

Answer: That question makes me sad. I cannot imagine having no contact with my grandchildren. I am empathetic with this wife. I don’t know what happened, but if an apology would lift the barrier and he is unwilling to apologize, he needs help. I know he is not likely to go for help. So, I suggest you go for help. Tell him something like this: I love you too much to do nothing. I know that you do not want to deprive the grandchildren of their grand-father.

So, If you are not willing to apologize, then I’m going to see a counselor (or a pastor) and try to find help. I want you to go with me, but if not, then I’m going alone.” Then do it. This kind of tough love, may be what is needed to awaken him to reality. Life is too short to live with broken relationships. You might also give him my book, The Five languages of Apology, which gives real life illustrations of how an apology can restore relationships.

Q&A: Are We to Forgive Without Receiving an Apology?

Question: Jesus said that we are to forgive 70 X 7. Does that mean with an apology or without an apology? My wife never apologizes and I’m having a hard time dealing with the hurt.

Answer: We are to forgive others as God forgives us. So, how does God forgive us? The Scriptures say, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” If we don’t confess, the Scriptures indicate that God will discipline us (Hebrews 12). Jesus gave us clear instructions in Luke 17: 3, “If your brother (or wife) sins against you, confront him or her. If they repent forgive them.”

In Matthew 18 Jesus said we should make more than one attempt at confronting them. Eventually, if they don’t repent, we are to treat them as a pagan. How do we treat pagans? We pray for them; we love them; we return good for evil. It is unconditional love that often touches the heart of the offender. You will need God’s help to follow God’s plan, but it is the most powerful thing you can do when someone refuses to apologize.

Q&A: Are we to forgive without receiving an apology?

Question: Jesus said that we are to forgive 70 X 7. Does that mean with an apology or without an apology? My wife never apologizes and I’m having a hard time dealing with the hurt.

Answer: We are to forgive others as God forgives us. So, how does God forgive us? The Scriptures say, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” If we don’t confess, the Scriptures indicate that God will discipline us (Hebrews 12). Jesus gave us clear instructions in Luke 17: 3, “If your brother (or wife) sins against you, confront him or her. If they repent forgive them.”

In Matthew 18 Jesus said we should make more than one attempt at confronting them. Eventually, if they don’t repent, we are to treat them as a pagan. How do we treat pagans? We pray for them; we love them; we return good for evil. It is unconditional love that often touches the heart of the offender. You will need God’s help to follow God’s plan, but it is the most powerful thing you can do when someone refuses to apologize.

Confessing Failure in Marriage

Improving my marriage means that I must, first of all, identify and confess my own failures to God.

Paul talked about this when he said: “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man”. None of us are perfect.   Having a good marriage is not dependent upon being perfect, but it does require you to deal with your failures. First you confess your failures to God and experience His forgiveness. Then with the help of His Spirit, you go to your spouse and say:

“I’ve been thinking about us, and I have realized that you are not all of our problem. Last night I asked God to show me where I have been failing you. He gave me a pretty good list. I asked God to forgive me and I’d like to share these with you and ask you to forgive me.” Now you have your spouses’ attention. Something new is happening. They are all ears.

Your spouse may or may not forgive you, but your honesty clears the wall on your side. It empties your conscience of past failures. It frees you to be constructive today. Friend, your marriage is already better.

Seeds We Plant

Over the past thirty years, I have counseled many couples who were contemplating divorce. The one scripture that always comes to my mind is Gal. 6:7. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” God gives us real freedom, but we are never free from the seeds we plant. The pain and brokenness of divorce follows us and our children for a lifetime.

When the Bible says that “God hates divorce,” it’s because He knows the pain that divorce causes. I know that you cannot make your spouse reconcile. But you can reach out for help. Call a pastor, a counselor, a friend; read a book. Discover your options and don’t forget that God is the God of miracles.

Renewed Determination

Marital separation sometimes brings a temporary sense of ‘peace’. One husband said, “This is the first week of peace I’ve had for years.” Of course he felt peace; he had left the battlefield. However, retreat is not the road to victory. You must come from that retreat with a renewed determination to defeat the enemy of your marriage.

If you are separated, use this time to examine the biblical principles for building a marriage. Discover where you went wrong and how to correct it. Reach out for God’s help. I wrote the book Hope for the Separated to help you do this. Separation is not necessarily the end. It may be the beginning of rediscovering the dream you shared when you were first married.

Clearest Voice

When marriages fall apart, where do we go for help? The Christian turns to God because we know that He cares. The Bible is God’s clearest voice for guidance. And the Bible calls us to repentance and reconciliation. Notice I said repentance. There can be no reconciliation without repentance. In marriage, this calls for mutual repentance, for almost always the failure has involved both parties.

I do not wish to minimize the hurt, pain, frustration, anger, resentment, loneliness, and disappointment you may feel. Nor do I take lightly your past efforts at marital adjustment. But this is a new day and calls for new choices. Deal with your own failures and ask God to help you do something positive today. Reconciliation comes one step at a time.

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