Learn Your Spouse's Language of Apology
- Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Learn the fifth language: Requesting forgiveness. This says, “Will you please forgive me?” When you speak this language, you show the offended person that you want to see the relationship fully restored. Let the person know that you realize you’ve done something wrong, and that you’re willing to put the future of the relationship in his or her hands, since the relationship depends on that person’s choice to either forgive or not forgive. But never demand forgiveness; understand that it’s a gift that must be given freely. Don’t expect the person you’ve offended to forgive you immediately, because forgiveness can be costly and take some time. Ask God to help you be patient as you wait.
Discover your primary apology language. As you consider the five languages of apology, think about which one is most natural for you. Ask yourself:
“What do I expect a person who has offended me to say or do that would make it possible for me to genuinely forgive him or her?”
“What hurts me most deeply about this situation?”
“When I apologize to others, which of the five languages do I think is most important?”
Discover someone else’s apology language. When you realize you’ve offended someone, ask: “What hurts you most about what I said or did?” In general, you can also ask: “Describe an apology someone once gave you that you considered insufficient. What was lacking?” and “When you express an apology to someone for something you have done that hurt him or her, what do you think is the most important part of an apology?”
Overcome barriers to apologizing. Realize that all relationships are worth the effort to apologize. Ask God to motivate you to value your relationships enough to apologize whenever you’ve offended someone. Understand that even when the other person is most at fault in a certain situation, you can’t justify your own wrong behavior based on that fact. Be willing to apologize for your own part in marring the relationship. If you view apologizing as a sign of weakness, recognize that you have low self-esteem and seek counseling to develop a healthy self-image. Know that apologizing actually will enhance your self-esteem, because it will lead people to respect and admire you.
Don’t cheapen apologies. Recognize that you don’t need to apologize anytime there’s any tension in one of your relationships, or anytime you simply irritate someone. Understand that apologies are designed to deal with moral failures. Don’t just assume that a stressful situation is your fault without truly thinking about it, and don’t apologize simply to avoid conflict and get an issue settled quickly. Know that a “peace at any price” mentality will only lead to simmering resentment. Don’t forgive someone too easily for seriously negative behavior that he or she should deal with; instead, hold the person accountable for it. Ask God to give you the courage you need to face issues honestly and wisely.
Learn to forgive. Realize that it’s just as important to accept an apology as it is to offer one. Know that choosing to forgive someone will open the door to reconciliation between you. Remember that forgiveness isn’t a feeling; it’s a decision. Ask God to help you forgive, and rely on the strength He will give you to do so. Understand that you can still pursue reconciliation with someone who has offended you even if that person doesn’t apologize: First, lovingly confront the person – several times if necessary. If, after several attempts, the person who offended you is unwilling to apologize, you should trust God to take care of justice in the situation rather than trying to seek vengeance yourself. Remember that God is even more concerned about righteousness than you are, and He will take the best possible action on your behalf.
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