Category: Apology

Breaking Old Habits

You don’t have to be perfect to have a good marriage. But, you do need to deal effectively with your failures. Otherwise they sit as barriers to a growing marriage. How do you get rid of past failures? First, you identify them–write them down. Second, you confess them as wrong–to God and to your spouse. Third, you repent–change your behavior.

To confess this week, and then repeat the same behavior next week, does not remove barriers. It makes things worse. God is in the business of changing lives. Why not sign up for God’s rehabilitation program? Let Him give you the power to break old habits and replace them with acts of kindness and love. You can become the person, your spouse deserves.

Past Failure

A husband recently said to me, “Why can’t we just forget the past and focus on the present and the future?” I’m empathetic with this husband, but it doesn’t work that way. We must deal with past failures before we can ‘put them behind us’. Otherwise, it keeps popping back up. The first step in dealing with past failures is to identify them.

Where have we failed each other? Most of us can identify our spouse’s failures more readily than we can identify our own. However, Jesus taught that we should first – get the beam out of our own eye. So why not ask God to bring to your mind all of the times when you have hurt your spouse. Write them down. We cannot deal with past failures until we identify them.


Do You Know How?

Do you know how to apologize? Chances are you do what your parents taught you, but that may not be enough. Dr. Jennifer Thomas and I discovered that people have different ideas on what it means to apologize. In fact there are five languages of apology. If you don’t speak the right language you are not likely to have a favorable response.

If you aren’t sure how to apologize, consider saying this: “I value our relationship. What do I need to do or say in order for you to consider forgiving me?” Their answer will reveal their ‘primary apology language’. Express your apology in that language and will likely receive forgiveness.


Do you have a relationship that is presently broken or fractured? What would it take to heal the relationship? I’d like to suggest two essentials: apologizing and forgiving. When we have hurt someone, it is time to apologize. Don’t let your pride keep you from admitting that you were wrong.

When someone has hurt you, it is time to confront. Jesus said that if someone sins against you, then you should tell them, and seek reconciliation. Don’t let fear keep you from confronting the person who has hurt you. Healthy relationships must be authentic. You cannot suffer in silence and hope things will work out. Apologizing and forgiving are two essentials for healthy relationships.

Value of Apologizing

I was giving a lecture on the five languages of apology.  At the break a man approached me and said:  “For the first time in my life I understand the value of apologizing.  My father’s philosophy was that ‘apologizing get’s you nowhere.  Do the best you can and never look back.’  That’s pretty much the way I lived until my wife committed adultery.”

“So, what would it take for you to forgive her,” I asked?  “I want her to admit that what she did was wrong and to promise me that she will never do it again.  If I knew that she would never do it again, I think I could forgive her.”

This husband was demonstrating the necessity of apologies.  There are no healthy marriages without apologies and forgiveness.

A Sincere Apology

What do you consider to be a sincere apology?  What does the person need to say or do that will make it possible for you to forgive them?  I have discovered that there are five ways that people typically apologize.  I call them the five languages of apology.

  1. Expressing regret.  “I’m sorry for what I did.”
  2. Accepting responsibility.  “I was wrong.”
  3. Making restitution.  “What can I do to make things right?”
  4. Genuine repentance.  “I don’t want to ever do that again.”
  5. Requesting forgiveness.  “Will you please forgive me?”

Which of these is most important to you?  That is your primary apology language.  Why not share this information with your family and friends so they will know how to apologize to you.

Five Apologies

When is the last time you apologized?  What did you say or do?  Did the person to whom you apologized seem to accept your apology?  Did they forgive you?  Was the relationship healed?  If not, I have an idea as to why they found it hard to forgive you.  They did not hear your apology as being sincere.

When someone hurts us and is now trying to apologize, the question in our minds is: are they sincere?  We judge sincerity by how they apologize.  If they simply say, “I’m sorry,”  that may seem a bit weak.  We may want to hear them say, “I was wrong.  Will you please forgive me?”  There are five ways to apologize.  If you speak only one, you will likely come across as insincere.

Integrity Reborn

Can trust be re-born in a marriage? Yes, if integrity is re-born. Trust dies when deceit is born. When you lie to your spouse in order to cover-up some behavior, you have taken the first step in killing trust. A few more lies and trust will be destroyed. The only way to restore trust is to confess your sin, ask for mercy, and then re-commit yourself to telling the truth.

On the practical level this means that you must establish a new record of being trustworthy. Invite your spouse to investigate your behavior. Every time your mate discovers your actions matching your words, trust grows. It takes time, but you can become a person of integrity and your spouse can come again to trust you.

Love is Gentle

When a couple comes to the point of separation, it is usually with many negative emotions. The temptation is to express these emotions in harsh words and brutal attacks. Nothing pleases Satan more than to see two Christians fighting each other. God’s way is love in the midst of hurt. Christ loved us even when we were killing him.

The scriptures say, ‘love is not rude’. The opposite of rudeness is courtesy. The word means to be ‘friendly minded’ – to treat your spouse as a friend. There is nothing to be gained by arguing and screaming. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). Certainly you need to discuss issues, but not in the attack mode.

Kindness Expressed

In my book, Hope for the Separated, I’m bold to suggest that you should be kind to the spouse who has walked out on you. I know it doesn’t seem natural, but we are called to love our enemies, and love is kind. The word ‘kind’ means ‘to be useful or beneficial’. What can you say or do that would be useful or beneficial to your spouse?

If you are a husband who has left, there are scores of things around the house that you could do for your wife, if she is willing. If your wife has left you, you may still be able to do some things that are ‘beneficial’ to her. What is to be gained by not helping her? You can be God’s agent of love. Love, expressed in kindness, is often the first step toward reconciliation.