Apologizing is never fun, but it’s a necessity for your marriage. It takes humility to admit you were wrong and ask your wife to forgive you. We all make mistakes and say or do things we wish we could undo. Whenever that happens, we need to seek forgiveness immediately from the person we have hurt.
If you have read any of my other posts on marriage, you’ve probably realized I am far from perfect. Yes, I have had to apologize for many things in my relationship with Susan, my wife. So I have learned what she really needs from me when I apologize. In my experience, these are 7 things your wife deserves to have you do when you apologize.
1. Apologize quickly.
Here’s the idea: Keep short accounts. Your wife deserves for you to be the husband who doesn’t let things go for long. Think of wrongdoing as bricks to build a wall. The more you do and the more time that goes by, you’re adding bricks to the wall. That wall causes you and your wife to become disconnected, your affection diminishes, and relationship security weakens. Apologizing quickly helps remove the blocks. Work hard to be the spouse who apologizes quickly when you cause hurt.
2. Recognize wrongs.
The point here is to realize that you did wrong. Often you’ll either skip this step and continue prodding at your wife to find out what you did wrong, or you will not take the hurt seriously and start with a defense of your actions. Instead, start with examining your responsibility in the situation. Take time to reflect and recognize your failure, realizing that you can’t simply demand forgiveness. Trust me—recognizing where you went wrong will help you throughout the next few steps.
3. Take responsibility.
Take ownership of what you did or didn’t do. Don’t make excuses for your failure. Avoid saying words like “but.” Your goal is to own what you did wrong. Sadly, there have been many times when I’ve spoken to my wife and inserted an excuse. I can hear myself as I think about it, saying, “Susan, I was wrong to talk to you like that, but if you just would’ve done what I asked you to do…” That’s the exact opposite of how to take responsibility.
4. Show regret.
You must see from her perspective and seek to understand her feelings. Empathize with her. Show you care. Your wife will know if you aren’t genuine. You can’t fake this. Show remorse for what you did. A bad example of regret says, “I’m sorry your feelings were hurt.” A better example: “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I feel horrible that I lost my temper.” Trying to reveal your regret of yelling will show you’re trying to address what really happened and how you’re ultimately trying not to repeat it.
5. Request forgiveness.
The actual request for forgiveness often gets missed in apologies. In a true apology, you aren’t simply stating your case and saying, “I apologize.” Instead, after you have completed the previous steps, actually ask your wife to forgive you. Literally say the words: “I was wrong. Would you please forgive me?” This is not a statement. It’s a question. Your wife deserves to see your vulnerability.
6. Repair damage.
Apologizing requires you to take action and fix what’s been broken. Your wife deserves for you to make whatever you did better and then not continue willfully doing the wrong thing. Our actions and attitudes need to speak as loudly as our words. If we keep making the same mistake over and over again, our apologies will ultimately ring hollow. Tell your wife what you will do to change, what you’ll work on, and how you’ll prevent the same thing from happening again.
7. Be patient.
Don’t make the mistake of expecting your wife to “get over it” on your time. After asking forgiveness, allow her time to forgive. Resist the urge to act like it never happened. The consequences of whatever you did may mean she needs more time than you’d want to give. Be patient. The more serious the issue, the more time she needs.
In your opinion, what’s the most important part of an apology? Share in a comment below.