Many of you know about the five love languages, but do you know your apology language? Apologizing in conflict is one of the most important things you need to do to be able to have a successful relationship. A lot of people struggle with apologizing for various reasons, and we are going to get into it. Let’s just be honest, many people are really, really bad at this.
Apologizing can make clear that you are concerned about your partner’s welfare, and apologies can help de-escalate conflict. I think the problem that many people have is their idea of what actual apologies are. Many do not know and they may not be aware of what real apologies look like to them, hence their apology language. Here are some examples of what I call terrible apologies.
The “hand in the cookie jar”.
i.e. getting caught and facing the consequences, or of what might have happened, not for what I did.
The perfunctory sorry.
i.e. I am sorry because I am supposed to be.
The blame-shifting sorry.
i.e. I am sorry, but then immediately blame the other person.
The beyond my control sorry.
i.e. I’m sorry I did not come home in time for our dinner date, but you forgot to remind me.
The end justifies the means sorry.
i.e. I’m sorry I spent the rest of this week’s budget, but I had to buy this tool to fix the cupboard.
The minimizing apology.
i.e. Well, maybe I did that, but…..
We have said any of these at any one point in our lives and we thought we were making genuine apologies with these, but we really were not. Here are some simple apology guidelines to improve how you should be apologizing.
Genuine Apology Guidelines
Take full responsibility for hurting your partner’s feelings and explain what you might want to do differently to avoid doing the same thing in the future.
Sentence examples are as follows:
“I really blew that one.”
“Let me try again. “
“Tell me what you hear me saying.”
“How can I make things better?”
“Let me start again in a softer way.”
“I can see my part in all of this.”
This is just a start. To understand this better, it is important to know your apology language.
The Apology Language
Below is a link referencing “The Languages of Apology” by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. I strongly urge all of you to take the apology profile to gain more insight into the way that you receive and understand the apology. For those of you who do not take the profile, below I have listed out the five ways of apology.
My apology language is:
In our society, many people believe that wrong acts demand justice. The one who commits the crime should pay for their wrongdoing. A partner who speaks this love language feels the same way towards apologies. They believe that in order to be sincere, the person who is apologizing should justify their actions. The partner who’s been hurt simply wants to hear that their partner still loves them.
There are many effective ways to demonstrate sincerity in an apology. Each partner must learn the other’s love language in order to complete the act of restitution. Though some partner may feel as though all is forgotten with a bouquet of flowers, that may not necessarily work for all partner. Every partner should uncover what their partner’s main love language is (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts) and use that specific language in order to make restitutions in the most effective way.
For a partner whose primary apology language is making restitutions, no matter how often you say “I’m sorry”, or “I was wrong”, your partner will never find the apology sincere. You must show strong efforts for making amends. A genuine apology will be accompanied by the assurance that you still love your partner and have a desire to right the wrong-doings committed.
This is one of the less demanding apology languages. The apologizer simply has to express that they are sorry for what they have done and imply that they feel guilty or shameful for their actions. This is all centered on feeling empathy for others. This style can be too forgiving to a fault because it does not ensure that they won’t continue to hurt again.
This language centers on attempting to modify the behavior that caused the pain. If this is your apology language, then you hope the person who hurt you will make an honest attempt at changing their behavior.
Affirmation of the offender’s action that hurt the other person’s feelings. For those who have this love language as their priority, they want to hear the person say, “I am wrong.” This goes beyond just saying, “I am sorry.” Rather it is an “I am sorry. I know I was wrong for doing…..” This shows that the person is fully aware of their wrong doing and is able to specifically identify the problem which caused the pain.
If you value someone requesting your forgiveness, then you see it as the offender’s way of expressing that they still want you to love them. Not only does this affirm that they know why they have done you wrong, but it’s their way of wanting to express that they want to repair and restore the relationship.
Making restitution requires that you do extra things for the person to make them feel safe and loved. This may have nothing to do with the actual content of what hurt them. An example would be to receive flowers. A spouse would feel better with the apology language to have a more tangible expression of restitution.
Lastly, sometimes people don’t apologize because they are too ashamed; however, forgive them anyway. Yet, sometimes you have to be okay with a sorry you never got. God calls on us to forgive all of those who have done us wrong, whether we have received an apology or not. I know how difficult it is no accept that sometimes we are just not going to get the apology we want. Conflict resolution is difficult for many people out here. Read this resource if you want more insight on navigate it better here.
If this is something you need further help with, whether you as an individual or a couple, please book a session or get my new ebook to help up your relationship happiness game.