I’m pretty sure my husband Caleb drank some kind of juice at birth that gave him a knack for hard conversations. His full name is Joshua Caleb for goodness sake… A double portion of boldness, a name in reference to the two spies ready to take on the Promised Land while the other ten spies were shaking in their boots from merely seeing the massive inhabitants of the land.
Joshua Caleb. Yep. That’s who I married.
I love the peace of reconciliation, but I hate the anxiety of confrontation. Absolutely HATE it. Before we got married, we had numerous people mention the Bible verse warning you not to go to bed without having resolved your problems (Ephesians 4:26). Well, let me tell you, that Caleb is determined we will live out that Bible verse. He’s not afraid to confront situations and get us to a place of reconciliation.
Because of Caleb, it has been easier to reconcile arguments before we go to bed. However, early in our marriage the weirdest thing kept happening. We would get in an argument, talk through it, and then head to bed. But for some reason, even though Caleb felt like the situation had been resolved, I still was unsettled. For the longest time, I didn’t understand why I felt that way. Then I revisited a chapter from Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married in which Gary Chapman describes the 5 apology languages. While you are most likely familiar with his book about the 5 love languages, I was greatly impacted by the 5 apology languages below.
The Apology Languages
1. Expressing regret
If you have this apology language, it’s important for you not to just hear “I’m sorry,” but also to hear the other person elaborate on why they are sorry. This apology language needs to have others acknowledge the events that were impacted by their decision.
“I’m sorry that I stayed later at work and didn’t communicate that to you. I realize that the family was waiting to eat dinner and now dinner is cold.”
2. Accepting responsibility
For someone who has this apology language, it’s important for them to hear from the other person that they accept responsibility and realize they did something wrong.
“I was wrong to not take out the trash last night. I should have done that rather than watching TV.”
3. Making restitution
This apology language desires to “make it right.” For this individual, it’s important to hear that the other person is sorry and that they want to make up for the suffering caused.
“I’m sorry for forgetting your birthday. I would love to make it up to you by spending quality time with you on a date night at your favorite restaurant.”
4. Genuinely expressing the desire to change your behavior
This apology language is similar to the previous apology language but relates to recurring bad behavior. Individuals who have this apology language do not feel like you have apologized if you have not provided a plan for changing the behavior in the future.
“I am sorry that I lost my temper again. I do not like when I am this way. Can you help me think what I can do to make sure that this doesn’t happen again?”
5. Requesting forgiveness
“Do you forgive me?” is extremely important to hear for an individual with the apology language of requesting forgiveness. It’s important for them to know that you have forgiven them and that the relationship has been reconciled.
Disclosure: It’s important to note that rarely does one apology language meet someone’s needs. One week, they may need to hear you request forgiveness and another week need you to hear you accept responsibility.
In our fights, I realized that Caleb’s apology language had been spoken, but mine was yet to be mentioned. We had said “I’m sorry,” but I didn’t have any guidance on how the situation would be prevented again in the future. These apology languages enabled me to guide our conversations in the future so I could find peace as well after the argument had ended.
Maybe you’ve found yourself at unease in a relationship or friendship. In our relationships, differences and arguments are inevitable. However, by taking responsibility for our actions, changing our behavior, and asking for forgiveness, it’s easier for relationships to be reconciled and marriages to be healthier. Every frustration with a friend or our significant other is simply an opportunity to practice forgiveness and ultimately strengthen our marriage.
Forgiveness is the key to a healthy marriage.