I Said I Was Sorry!

Have you ever heard those words or spoken them?  Why is it that so many times we need to come back and say again, “I SAID I was sorry! What more do you want me to say?”

Cecilia Johansson

Cecilia Johansson

The Apology is needed in every marriage tool box.  Why?  Because we all mess up. We all make mistakes, and do things we promised not to do.  We say things that are insensitive and hurtful, and the list goes on.

Generally speaking, we are not very good at apologies.  We often mouth the words but true repentance is far from reality.  Inwardly we are saying, “I’m sorry, but ….”    So our spouse doesn’t believe us for a minute and thinks if you were REALLY sorry, you’d stop doing whatever and quit making lame excuses.  Ouch.  I guess it doesn’t look like I’m really sorry.

How do we apologize?  I mean REALLY apologize.  So that it is accepted.  How do I honestly convey my regret?

Fortunately, there an app for that!!  Oops, I mean a book for that.  There may be an app for that, but for now a book will do.  I’m referring to The Five Languages of Apology Amazon by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas.  Yes, you’re right.  This is the same Gary Chapman who authored The Five Love Languages.

What an insightful book.  It looks into the ways that we typically apologize, our apology temperament if you will.  Here are the five languages of apology:

  • Expressing Regret – I am sorry
  • Accepting Responsibility – I was wrong
  • Making Restitution – What Can I do to make this right?
  • Genuinely Repenting – I’ll try not to do that again
  • Requesting Forgiveness – Will you please forgive me?

Most of us are looking for an apology to be sincere.  An apology that has an excuse built right into it is worthless.  You are simply absolving yourself on the back end of a hollow “I’m sorry”.

We also like to hear the offender take ownership of what happened and not spread the blame onto others.

There are a series a questions in the book that help you identify your particular language of apology or what’s important to you when someone is apologizing to you.  Is it enough that they express regret, or is it important to you that they also clearly accept responsibility.

And so, I’m sorry for not going in to more detail in this blog.  I know it’s my fault and I could have done a better job. Next time I will.  Will you please forgive me?

Now, go home and tell your spouse you’re sorry.

Fables and Fairy Tales

There is a long tradition of teaching life principles with short stories like Aesop’s fables, parables, and fairy tales.  I ran across one such pithy tale in a book by Mort Fertel, Marriage FitnessAmazon.  The story is one of love and sacrifice.  I was struck with how well it illustrated the concept of Selfless Serving, a cornerstone principle of our blog.  Here’s a brief summary of the tale.

There once was a brave knight in King Arthur’s court, Sir Gawain, who uncovered a plot to kill the King.  To save the King’s life, he had to agree to marry Ragnell, the unsightliest maid in the kingdom.  On their wedding night, she was amazed that he never showed revulsion or pity for her and she asked one thing of him.  She asked for only one kiss.                                                                                  

Photo by Gabor Palla

Photo by Gabor Palla

Sir Gawain gently kissed his bride.  When he opened his eyes the most beautiful women he had ever seen was lying next to him and he asked, “Where is my wife Ragnell?”  She replied, “I am your wife Ragnell and now I must tell you the rest of my story”.

Ragnell told him her evil jealous stepbrother had a sorceress put a curse on her, turning her into the ugliest woman in the kingdom and because he had treated her with love and not pity, she could give him a choice.  She could be beautiful by day so that all would see Sir Gawain was a lucky man married to a beautiful woman, or she could be beautiful by night when they were together.  Ugly by day, beautiful by night, or beautiful by day and ugly by night.  It was his choice.                                                        

Sir Gawain immediately declined to make that choice.  He said that she must choose and he would accept her decision.  And at that, the curse on Ragnell was lifted and she was once again beautiful by day and night.

In this simple tale, we are shown that we have choices.  Gawain gave up his right to choose and let his wife choose the best for her.  We can also choose to serve our own needs and wants, or we can choose to surrender our desires and selflessly give to our spouse.

Here’s a Date Night idea.  Take turns asking your spouse these questions:

  1. Do you feel that I am attentive enough to your needs?
  2. Do you think I take the time to really hear what’s important to you?
  3. What would you say are your four most important needs?
  4. What can I do to better meet those needs?

Remember marriage is a “We” relationship.  No one is perfect.  We can all improve and we need each other.  Help each other so that you can better serve and love one another.

Who knows, you may make a fairy tale marriage!