Category: Apology

Remove The Barriers

Have you ever accused your spouse of something they didn’t do? I once accused my wife of miss-placing my briefcase, when in fact, I left it at my office. What do you do about false accusations? Ignore them and hope your spouse will forget? Not if you want a loving marriage. Every time you ignore a harsh word, it sits as an emotional barrier between the two of you.

Love removes the barriers. So, I called my wife and said, “I found my briefcase.” She didn’t say anything. She knew there ought to be more to it than that. So, I said, “I’m sorry for the way I talked to you. It was wrong. Will you forgive me.” She said, “I thought you’d call.” We’re committed to removing the barriers.

One Block at a Time

Many couples are at a stalemate because they have allowed a wall to develop between them. Walls are erected one block at a time. It may be as small as failing to take out the garbage or as large as failing to meet sexual needs. Instead of dealing with the failure, we ignore it. The wall becomes high and thick. We were once “in love” but now only resentment remains.

There is only one way to remove a wall. We must tear down the blocks on our side. Someone must take the initiative. Will your spouse forgive you? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try. Confess your past failures and ask God to help you make the future different. The wall is not as thick when you remove the blocks on your side.

A Better Marriage

You can’t create a perfect marriage, but you can have a better marriage. And it all begins with you. Most of us think that if our spouse would change, we would have a better marriage. But that’s the wrong place to start. Begin my identifying your own failures. Confess these to God and then to your spouse. You now have a clear conscience and you are free to change your behavior and become a loving spouse.

Nothing impacts your spouse more than loving words and actions. Nagging builds resentment. Love stimulates positive emotions. When your spouse feels genuinely loved by you, they are more open to your requests for change. You can have The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Wrecking Crew

If you have lost the intimacy in your marriage, it’s time to call in the wrecking crew. That’s right, it’s time to demolish the wall between the two of you. And the most effective tool for demolition is – confession. Oh, I know it’s not all your fault. But no one is perfect. So, put the sledge hammer of confession to your part of the wall.

You might say, “I’ve been thinking about us and I realize that I have not been the spouse you deserve. I asked God to show me my failures and He gave me a pretty good list. I’d like to share these with you and ask you to forgive me. I want to make the future different.” You have taken the first step toward renewed intimacy.

Speaking to be Understood

What do you say or do when you apologize to someone? For some, it’s “I’m sorry.” To them, that is an apology. To others, “I’m sorry,” is just getting started. They want to hear, “I was wrong. I should not have done that. What can I do to make it up to you? I want to find a way that I will not repeat this behavior next week. I do hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

After two years of research, Dr. Jennifer Thomas and I discovered that there are five ways that people typically apologize. We called them the five languages of apology. Most people only speak one or two of the languages – the ones we were taught as children. In order to apologize effectively, we must learn to speak our apology in a way that the other person will understand.

Never Too Late

People who grow up with low self-esteem, often find it difficult to apologize. To them, an apology seems to be a sign of weakness. In reality, apologizing enhances one’s self-esteem. People respect the man or woman who is willing to take responsibility for their own failures. Receiving the respect and admiration of others thus enhances how we feel about ourselves.

On the other hand, those who try to hide or excuse wrongful behavior will almost always lose the respect and affirmation of others. A sincere apology is always a sign of maturity, not a sign of weakness. Apology opens the door to forgiveness. And forgiveness means that we can now continue to grow in our relationship. It’s never too late to learn to apologize.

Unrealistic World

When Dr. Jennifer Thomas and I wrote the book, The Five Languages of Apology, we discovered that some people almost never apologize. One wife said, “My husband rarely apologizes, because he doesn’t see a lot of what he does as wrong. He finds it hard to admit that he makes mistakes.” This husband is living in an unrealistic world.

Sometimes all of us make harsh, critical, and unloving comments. When we are unwilling to accept responsibility for our words or behavior we erect a barrier between us and the person we hurt. Barriers are not removed without apologies and forgiveness. In fact, you cannot have a growing marriage without apologies.

First Step is The Hardest

Why is apologizing so hard? One husband said, “I know I did wrong, but so did she. In fact, she precipitated the whole thing. Why should I apologize when she’s the one who started it?” The problem with the waiting game is that the average life span for men and women is 75 years. How much of your life do you want to spend in a ‘cold war’?

I’ve know people who have spent 30 years living in the same house, waiting for the other person to apologize. Why would you do that? I know it’s not all your fault, but some of it is. Apologize for your part and see what happens. The first step is often the hardest. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Take responsibility for your failures and request forgiveness.

Caring Enough to Listen

Patience does not mean that we do nothing when others are upset with us. I’ve known people who will sit stone-faced and listen to the ranting and raving of their spouse and then get up and walk out of the room with no comment. This is not patience it is isolation. It is self-centeredness.

Patience is caring enough to listen empathetically with a view to understanding what is going on inside the other person. Such listening requires time and is itself an expression of love. Patience might mean remaining calm when what the other person is saying is hurtful. Patience says, “I care enough that no matter what you say or how you say it, I will listen and try to understand.


When you are angry with your spouse, it’s not enough to get rid of your anger. You must find a resolution to the situation that stimulated the anger. All of us sometimes say and do things that are not loving. These failures stimulate hurt and anger. Anger doesn’t simply melt away with time and hurt does not evaporate. They exist to motivate us to seek understanding and resolution.

In the back of my book on Anger I have a little card that can be torn out and posted on the refrigerator. It reads, “I’m feeling angry right now. But don’t worry, I’m not going to attack you. But I do need your help. Is this a good time to talk.” So, when you’re angry, you take the card and read it to your spouse. Now, you are on the road to resolution.