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.

A Great Marriage – The Ten Keys Part 2

Last week we looked at the first five keys from the book How to Make A Good Marriage Great –Ten Keys to a Joyous Relationship  by Victor Cline, Ph.D.

Now we’ll look at the remaining five keys.  Here is a summary with my added editorial comments:

  • Sixth Key –  Develop Effective Communication / Negotiation Skills  –  Successful communication with our spouse is essential to a happy marriage and comes with practice, patience, and hard work.  Become a student of the best communication style with your spouse.   The good Dr. has these suggestions:
    • Get quiet time ALONE together, even if that takes an overnight away together. Never discuss critical issues when tired or exhausted.
    • Be a good listener without interrupting.
    •  Don’t flee or run away, rather stick it out and work at issues peacefully.
    • Be honest with each other sharing true and honest feelings.
    • Avoid blame statements and convey how certain actions or statements are making YOU feel.
    •  Remember to be positive and express your thankfulness for what is right in your relationship.
    • Avoid criticism.
    • If it is too difficult to discuss, try writing it out and sharing this letter with your spouse so you can discuss it.  This will allow you to share all your feeling without being “run over.”
  • Seventh Key – The “Extra Dimension”  –  Remember God desires you to have a richly blessed relationship.  Pray for each other and pray together as you work at growing your relationship.  Pray that the Lord will bless you with a patient and understanding spirit and that you learn how to selflessly love your spouse.
  • Eighth Key  –  Acute Stress can Kill Love – Deal with It!  –  Our lives are filled with a variety of stressors including the usual issues of small children (or larger teenage types), job or lack of a job, financial stress, health issues, or family and extended family issues, to name a few.  These can add extreme pressure on even the best of relationships.  But don’t quit.  Look at these times as the “white water days” of your marriage.  Much like a river raft trip, there are calm water days and white water days.  During the white water days you need to really hang on.  Find ways to simplify and de-stress your lives.  I believe that God will restore us to the calm water but remember to love each other even in your white water days, for then you need each other most.
  • Ninth Key – Participate in a Marriage Enrichment / Marriage Encounter Experience – Take time to grow in your knowledge together.  A weekend seminar together should be a major priority.  Find a marriage book to read and discuss together.
  • Tenth Key – Pair-Bonding, Renewing the Magic  –  Work daily at these things:  Make a daily decision to love each other and express that love, shower each other with positives and take time daily to share feelings.

Dr. Cline has shared some valuable ideas on how to have a Great Marriage.  But head knowledge alone will not bring about the desired results.  You must commit to work at these things.  The rewards are worth the effort.

A Great Marriage – The Ten Keys

This week I’m sharing with you advice from a book that’s been on my shelf for quite some time,  How to Make  A Good Marriage Great –Ten Keys to a Joyous Relationship by Victor Cline, Ph.D.  Most of the time when I see “Ph.D.” next to the author’s name, I think, “Ugghh, another 9000 pages of endless psychobabble that will take me three years to plow through.”  But then I come across a book like this one that breaks down complicated issues into basic strategies for success.  Get a copy of this book.  I’m sure you will find it useful.  In the forward Dr. Cline says, “I have never seen a happy divorce.”  How true is that?  Broken relationships even if they end amicably are painful and leave deep lasting scars.  He goes on to say that “we are all flawed.  We make mistakes…”   But then he says, “We have choices.  If we wish, marriage can be a wonderful, exhilarating adventure with almost no limits…” So I encourage you to choose the wonderful and enjoy the adventure of marriage.

Here is a summary of his first five keys for making a marriage great – with my added editorial comments:

1.        First Key – Shower Positives, Minimize Nagging  – Too often we focus on the five percent of the daily things that happen that are negative, such as a harsh word or insensitive comment.  We overlook the positive.  We need to get in the habit of being thankful for all that is good in our spouse and have grace and patience with the negatives.  Remember: five positives overcome one negative!b

2.       Second Key – Let Your Spouse Know the Facilitators of Love – Here he encourages us to clearly and verbally let our spouse know what our needs are.  Don’t expect he will somehow read your mind.  When your spouse expresses his needs, listen and do your best to give him what he needs.

3.       Third Key – Defuse Anger  – Find a way to step away from tense boiling points when they happen.  Sometimes writing it out and sharing notes can help.  Take time to calm down and when cooler heads prevail, the issues may be easier to work out.

4.       Fourth Key –  Positive Sexuality  –  This is such an important key in marriage relationships and it is the basis of true emotional intimacy.  Men need sex to feel emotionally connected and women need to be emotionally connected to truly enjoy the richness of sexual intimacy.  Work at understanding each other’s needs.

5.       Fifth Key –  The Power of Commitment – Love is a Daily Decision  –  This is clearly a cornerstone to a lasting marriage.  We must make an unconditional commitment to each other – For richer / For poorer – For better / For worse – In sickness / and in health – ‘Till death do us part.  Familiar words.  We need to be committed to each other and committed to growing our relationship into a “joyous relationship”.  It’s not good enough to be committed to a lifeless relationship.  We also need to be committed to and working toward a joyous relationship, a soul mate relationship.

Next week we’ll look at the next five Keys according to Dr. Cline.

More Common Sense

Remember the Definition of “Common Sense”: sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.

Does that mean that we should not seek out specialized knowledge or training? That we should rely simply on our own good Common Sense to work out issues that surface in our marriage?

Let me ask a simple Common Sense question. If you wanted to go fishing and you really wanted to, as best as possible, catch fish, and you had no prior experience fishing, wouldn’t it make sense to try to acquire some “insider information” on how to fish before actually attempting to fish? Well of course it would. It would be operating in the principle of Common Sense to read up on some basic best practices of fishing before actually going out and trying to fish.

But let’s take a step back. Let’s say that you went fishing without reading or consulting anyone. You reason to yourself that you will need a fishing pole and some bait. So you purchase both, and you head out to the nearest river. You bait the hook and try to cast. After a few practice casts, you land the line in the water. You fish in this manner for several hours. Knowing that fishing takes patience, you repeat this process for several weeks, then months. In all that time, you never catch one fish. Truth be told, you have never even had a nibble. By now you are extremely frustrated. Fishing just doesn’t work.

Just as you’re getting ready to pack it up and go home, you notice someone coming down the bank of the river. He looks up and down the river, selects a spot near some rocks, baits his line and casts in. Good luck, you think to yourself. But within ten minutes, he hooks a beautiful steelhead, carefully works his reel and skillfully nets the fish. He brings it over to show you and then asks if you can take his picture. You click off a few and he leaves. You sit staring at the river and your pole and bait. Disgusted, you throw all of your gear into the river and go home vowing never to fish again. Little did you know that you had the wrong bait, the wrong pole, the wrong weight line and you were repeatedly casting in the wrong spot.

Sometimes we approach marriage the same way. After all, we got along good while dating. We knew each other pretty well and never had a big fight before we got married. And we’ll figure it out as long as we still love each other. How tough can it be? So we begin the journey of married life, figuring it out as we go. We are too embarrassed or proud to ask for help and we keep repeating the same mistakes because we don’t know how to do anything else. Common Sense says be a student of the most important relationship in your life. Read, study, ask questions, attend seminars, and by so doing improve your skills.