How Do You Apologize?

We are now in the church season of Lent, a forty day period before Easter set aside as a time of soul-searching and repentance. The forty days reflect Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for his own time of spiritual reflection. In the early church, Lent was a special time when new converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism on Easter.

Our pastor taught us about the four spiritual acts of Lent in one of his sermons:

  1. Giving to the poor
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting/Abstaining
  4. Repentance

It’s that last one that has me thinking today. Repentance is often defined as “to feel sorrow for sin” and rightly refers to our sin against God. But, we also sin against each other in our marriage and family relationships. We offend and hurt the ones we love. And we are offended and hurt by the ones we love.

In every marriage and family there comes a time when we must repent. We must feel sorrow for our actions or words. That is often followed by an apology. How you apologize and what you say in the apology is important.

When an apology is needed, Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas in The Five Languages of Apology encourage us to include the following:

  1. Express regret – “I am sorry.” It helps to be specific about the offense. Avoid saying “but…” That tends to void the apology.
  2. Accept responsibility – “I was wrong.” (Enough said!)
  3. Make restitution – “What can I do to make it right?” This compensation may be monetary, material, or emotional or verbal support.
  4. Genuinely repent – “I’ll try not to do that again.” True repentance means change. In a marriage or family relationship, an intention to not repeat the offensive behavior needs to be verbalized in order to build trust.
  5. Request forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?” This sends a strong signal that you know you’ve done something that requires forgiving, not just excusing. It also lets the other person know that you want to see the relationship restored.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” – Psalm 51:1-2

Do you need to apologize today?

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Bedtime Grumblings


We went to bed unhappy with each other. Oh, we gave each other a kiss good night, and we said, “I love you.” However, there wasn’t much passion in that kiss, nor in those words.

It all started as we were getting ready for bed. The day had been long and exhausting for both of us. I said, “There’s an MS conference coming up. Can we go to it?”

“No, we have a seminar that day,” he said.

“Maybe it will be cancelled and then we can go to the MS conference.” (Wrong thing to say!)

“Cindy, I can’t believe you said that! I don’t think you care about this ministry.” (Wrong thing for him to say!)

Back and forth we went, each saying things we would be sorry for later. We eventually calmed down and realized that our words came out of our mouths without thinking of their impact on the other.

Sometimes when you are living with chronic pain, it can wear you down and you say things you should not say, nor really mean to say. Sometimes when you are the caregiver living with someone with chronic pain, you may get impatient and say things you should not say or mean to say.

Next time we find ourselves bickering with each other, we are going to try to remember the following:

  • Don’t mind read, assuming you know what your spouse means or is really thinking.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions.
  • Give your spouse grace.

Continue the Conversation:  What’s your story? Do you identify with what happened to us? What other suggestions would you make on how to keep from grumbling?