Focus on the Family is a great organization that has helped many families over the years. As I read their recent article, “The Best Way To Properly Apologize To Your Spouse,”* I began to think about what a big deal this is for many couples. I have counseled couples where the words “I’m sorry” are never said, lightly said, or said in an offensive way. Let’s look at these.
If someone refuses to say I’m sorry, two things come to my mind. First, do they really think they did nothing wrong? And second, are they holding on to unforgiveness? In our marriage, if Nancy could not or would not forgive me, I would be in a world of hurt. I screw up. I never intend to, but my humanness comes out more that I want it to! I need Nancy’s forgiveness. I need our relationship restored. We all screw up. We all need forgiveness. Holding on to unforgiveness can lead to unresolved anger and bitterness. Do you ever identify with this? If so, what needs to change? Why are the words “I’m sorry” so difficult to say? Ask God to help you overcome anything that keeps you from embracing humility, unselfishness, and being able to speak the words “I’m sorry.”
Next, I can get in the habit of saying “I’m sorry” in such a way that Nancy might question my sincerity. There have been many times in the past when I said it to just end a fight or to appease Nancy. Today it really does come from my heart most of the time. Most of our spouses will know if we are sincere or not by our body language and our tone of voice. Before I say I’m sorry, I really need to be sorry. God helps me with that. He helps me look at it from Nancy’s perspective and then I know that whether I offended her on purpose or not, saying I’m sorry begins the healing process.
This last one can really damage a relationship. These are the one-liners that can tank a marriage over time. Here are a few:
This response takes no personal responsibility and shifts the problem onto the offended spouse.
This communicates that the other person is either too sensitive or should not have been offended by what was said or done.
This invalidates your spouse’s feelings.
These do not convey any remorse. If fact, they do just the opposite. Now the offended spouse is not only hurt from the offense but things have been made worse by an “apology” that lacks personal responsibility and puts the blame back on the other spouse. It becomes a marriage train wreck just waiting to happen.
The bottom line is this. In a marriage, the two of you are a team. You are to work together to have the best marriage possible. Anything that detracts from that goal needs to be removed. Selfishness will never be a part of an Awesome Marriage. Neither will lack of humility or the inability to say two simple marriage-changing words: “I’m sorry!”
*Focus on the Family, June 25, 2018, “The Best Way To Properly Apologize To Your Spouse,” by Ted Cunningham
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