In a perfect world, there would be no need to apologize. But in an imperfect world, we cannot survive without them. We are moral creatures. We have a strong sense of right and wrong. When we are wronged, we experience hurt and anger. Something within us cries out for reconciliation when wrongdoing has fractured a relationship. The desire for reconciliation is often more potent than the desire for justice.
Opening the Door
In marriage, domestic turmoil is often rooted in an unwillingness to apologize. For lack of an apology, couples declare war, which can last for years and often ends in divorce. I've wondered if sincere apologies would have changed that sad outcome. You cannot apologize for your spouse's wrongs, but you can apologize for your own. When you do, you open the door to the possibility of forgiveness and you are on the road to reconciliation. There are no healthy marriages without apologies.
Can You Forgive Without an Apology?
If your definition of forgiveness is to release the person to God and release your hurt and anger to God, then you can forgive without an apology. But if by forgiveness you mean reconciliation, then an apology is a necessary ingredient. The Christian is instructed to forgive others in the same manner that God forgives us. How does God forgive us? The Scriptures say that “if we confess our sins,” God will forgive our sins.
You see, we often want our spouse to “just forget about what happened.” We don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to apologize. We just want it to “go away.” But things don’t just “go away.” God has provided a pattern for human forgiveness, and that pattern requires apologizing for our wrongs.
Learn and Speak a New Language
The art of apologizing can be learned! Recently, I released a book with Dr. Jennifer Thomas titled The Five Languages of Apology. I think you will find it a life changing book. What we have discovered in our research is that there are five basic aspects of an apology. I call them the five languages of apology.
The key to good relationships is learning the apology language of your spouse and being willing to speak it. Perhaps you’ve been saying “I’m sorry,” when your spouse needs to hear “I was wrong.” When you speak the primary apology language of your spouse, you make it easier for him or her to genuinely forgive you. When you fail to speak their language, it makes forgiveness difficult because they are not sure you are genuinely apologizing.
Remember the Five Languages of Apology?
# 1 - Expressing Regret
# 2 - Accepting Responsibility
# 3 - Making Restitution
# 4 - Genuinely Repenting
# 5 - Requesting Forgiveness
What's yours? Take the 30-second quiz.