Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, was another of the speakers at the Focus on the Family simulcast this past Saturday. He talked about a couple of things – two essentials to having a successful long-term marriage and the 5 Languages of Apology.
The two essentials are:
1. Feeling loved and appreciated.
2. Dealing effectively with our failures. When we fail each other it creates a barrier between us. To effectively deal with our failures we need to use apologizing and forgiveness to break that barrier down.
When we apologize to our spouse they are often internally asking, “Are they sincere?”. And that can only be answered in the affirmative if you have apologized in your spouse’s apology language. Here is a quick summary of those languages.
1. Expressing Regret
- “I’m sorry that I…” Always say what you are sorry for. Name it. Do NOT put a “but” on the end of it. (Luke 15:21 and Psalm 51:17)
2. Accepting Responsibility
- “I was wrong…” No excuses for it. (1 John 1:9 and Luke 15:21)
3. Offering to make restitution.
- “What can I do to make this up to you?”
- “What do you need to trust me again?”
- Working to repair what has been done. It’s a process. (Luke 19:8)
4. Genuinely repenting OR expressing the desire of wanting to change.
- “I know I did this last week, and here I’ve done it again. Will you help me make a plan not to do it again?”
5. Requesting Forgiveness
- Actually saying, “Will you forgive me?”
Each of us has a primary apology language. If we don’t apologize in our spouse’s apology language they may take us as not being sincere.
To figure out which language is yours, ask:
- What do I typically say when I apologize?
- What hurts me most deeply about this situation? (Ex: My spouse never says he is wrong [#2].)
- What could they say or do to make it easier for me to forgive them?
What is forgiveness?
- There are 3 Hebrew and 4 Greek words in the Bible that mean “to pardon, or to take away” – removing a barrier. Psalm 103:12 – “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us….” This is God’s response to an apology.
- It’s choosing mercy and grace over justice! It’s letting God deal with the justice of the situation.
- Forgiveness does not destroy our memory.
- Forgiveness does not remove all the painful emotions. What do you do with those memories and emotions? Take them to God!
- Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of sin.
- Forgiveness does not rebuild trust. They have to be trustworthy. If you have committed adultery, for example, you need to be open with your spouse – your checkbook, your computer, your passwords, everything.
- Forgiveness does not always bring reconciliation. It CAN open a door to reconciliation.
Even if they do not apologize in your apology language, it’s choosing to forgive anyway.
If they don’t apologize at all …
- Do Matthew 18 graciously. Go to them first.
- Release the person to God. (1 Peter 2)
- Pray for them and stand ready to forgive them.
- Return good for evil. (Romans 12)
ALL of us have and will fail our spouse. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do need to deal effectively with our failures.
Ask yourself, “Where am I failing in my marriage?”
Learn more about the Five Languages of Apology here.