Last week, my husband and I celebrated our four year wedding anniversary, so my emotions are still all wrapped up in love right now! If you read my prior blog then you already know how much of a fan I am of Love Languages. My husband and I make it a habit to check in on each other's Love Languages periodically, but always around our anniversary time. This year we stepped it up a notch and discovered each other’s Apology Language. Have you ever heard of an Apology Language? I hadn't until recently and decided to do some investigating. I am a diehard Love Language fan and inevitably give the homework assignment to all of my couple’s counseling clients. Now I am all in on these Apology Languages. In relationships not only do we have a particular way we need to receive love, we also have a manner in which we need to receive an apology. Take a look at the brief descriptions below obtained from “5 Languages of Apology” by Gary Chapman, also the creator of “The 5 Love Languages”.
This Apology Language zeroes in on emotional hurt. It is an admission of guilt and shame for causing pain to another person. A simple “I’m sorry” is all they look for. There is no need for explanation or “pay back” provided the apology has truly come from the heart. It gets right to the point and doesn’t make excuses or attempt to deflect blame, it takes ownership of the wrong. It is understood as a sincere commitment to repair and rebuild the relationship. The “Expressing Regret” Apology Language speaks most clearly when the person offering the apology reflects sincerity not only verbally, but also through body language. Unflinching eye contact and a gentle, but firm touch are two ways that body language can underscore sincerity.
In our society, many people believe that wrong acts demand justice. The one who commits the crime should pay for their wrongdoing. A mate who speaks this love language feels the same way towards apologies. They believe that in order to be sincere, the person who is apologizing should justify their actions. The mate who’s been hurt simply wants to hear that their mate still loves them. Each mate must learn the other’s love language in order to complete the act of restitution. Though some mates may feel as though all is forgotten with a bouquet of flowers, that may not necessarily work for all mates. Every mate should uncover what their partner’s main love language is (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts) and use that specific language in order to make restitutions in the most effective way. No matter how often you say “I’m sorry”, or “I was wrong”, your mate will never find the apology sincere. You must show strong efforts for making amends. A genuine apology will be accompanied by the assurance that you still love your mate and have a desire to right the wrong-doings committed.
Some mates will doubt the sincerity of an apology if it is not accompanied by their partner’s desire to modify their behavior to avoid the situation in the future. Admitting you are wrong creates vulnerability. It allows your mate to get a glimpse of your heart. The glimpse of true self is assurance that the apology was sincere. One important aspect of genuinely repenting is verbalizing your desire to change. Your mate cannot read your mind. Though you may be trying to change inside, if you do not verbalize your desire to change to your mate, most likely they will still be hurt. It is also important to make a dedicated plan for change. Often apologies involving repentance fail because the person never set up steps of action to help ensure success. Taking baby steps towards repentance instead of insisting on changing all at once will increase your chances of successfully changing your ways. Constructive change does not mean we will immediately be successful. There will be highs and lows on the road to change. You must remember that anyone can change their ways if they are truly and genuinely ready to repent.
It is very difficult for some people to admit that they’re wrong. It makes them doubt their self-worth, and no one likes to be portrayed as a failure. However, as adults, we must all admit that we make and will make mistakes. We are going to make poor decisions that hurt our mates, and we are going to have to admit that we were wrong. We have to accept responsibility for our own failures. For many individuals, all they want is to hear the words, “I am wrong.” If the apology neglects accepting responsibility for their actions, many partners will not feel as though the apology was meaningful and sincere. Many partners need to learn how to overcome their ego, the desire to not be viewed as a failure, and simply admit that their actions were wrong. For a mate who speaks this apology language, if an apology does not admit fault, it is not worth hearing. Being sincere in your apology means allowing yourself to be weak, and admitting that you make mistakes. Though this may be hard to do for some people, it makes a world of a difference to your partner who speaks this language.
In some relationships, a mate wants to hear their partner physically ask for forgiveness. They want assurance that their mate recognizes the need for forgiveness. By asking forgiveness for their actions, a partner is really asking their mate to still love them. Requesting forgiveness assures your mate that you want to see the relationship fully restored. It also proves to your mate that you are sincerely sorry for what you’ve done. It shows that you realize you’ve done something wrong. Requesting forgiveness also shows that you are willing to put the future of the relationship in the hands of the offended mate. You are leaving the final decision up to your partner – to forgive or not forgive. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that there is a difference between asking for forgiveness and DEMANDING forgiveness. When we demand forgiveness, we tend to forget the nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice the offended party is supposed to make. Demanding forgiveness takes away the sincerity of asking for it.
That was deep right? After reading the descriptions of Apology Languages do you have an idea of what your Apology Language could be? Below is a free quiz, I challenge you to take it to get a better idea of your Apology Language. Currently in a relationship? Encourage your partner to take the quiz with you and have some healthy conversation about your results.