Maintaining a happy relationship takes a lot from each person involved. Partners need to know when to listen, talk, argue, and, yes, apologize. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know how hard it can be to find the right words to say after an argument. In fact, if you are wondering whether or not you should apologize, you probably should. However, this can be the most difficult communication that couples do in relationships. There is shame involved in knowing you’ve done something wrong, and those feelings can be overwhelming.
To help us with this type of relationship communication, the creators of the famed love languages developed the five apology languages. These come in handy when giving and receiving an apology. In fact, Jennifer Thomas, Ph.D., and Gary Chapman, Ph.D., have developed an apology quiz similar to that of the love languages, so you can determine your and your partner’s apology preferences. Knowing just what to say when emotions are high could be all that it takes to mend hurt feelings.
“I feel horrible for what I’ve done.”
The expressing regret apology language is simply saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it. It’s important to admit when you are wrong or guilty for upsetting your partner (via Shape).
For many, a sincere apology is all they need to move forward in a relationship. It’s helpful if you list the hurtful effects your actions had on the other person rather than expressing remorse for being caught in a negative act (via Dr. Jennifer Thomas). Expressing regret seems simple, but it can mean peace and forgiveness for those who speak this apology language.
“I was wrong for what I did. I should have never done that.”
Accepting responsibility for a wrongdoing can be difficult. When using this form of apology language, you’re directly stating that you were wrong for making a certain choice. Some people were raised with the belief that admitting they are wrong is a sign of weakness; therefore, this form of apology can be challenging (via Shape).
When engaging in this type of apology language, the one apologizing is asked to swallow their pride and work to state exactly what they’re willing to take accountability for (via Focus on the Family). This takes humility and mutual respect, but if it makes life at home sweeter, it’s definitely worth it.
“Here is how I plan to make it up to you.”
The making restitution apology language asks that the one apologizing makes a plan for redemption. By apologizing through action, you’re confirming the verbal apology (via Shape). Knowing your partner’s love language could help both partners make restitution. Once you are aware of your love preferences, it will be easier to establish how best each person in the relationship can make it up to the other. Those who prefer this type of apology are looking for tangible reassurance that their partner is sorry rather than just an apology.
“I have no excuses for what I’ve done. I’m sorry. Next time, I will make sure to choose differently.”
The genuine repentance apology language goes beyond saying “I’m sorry” and accepting responsibility. This language requires the apology to become specific as to how things will change in the future. It doesn’t allow for making excuses and asks that the person apologizing has a plan in place for how things with change (via Focus on the Family). This form of apology language is more active and thoughtful. It may take a little time for this to come to fruition, but it really forces the person apologizing to think through the entire situation more fully.
“I hope you can forgive me. I will wait as long as it takes for you to be able to do this.”
Those who prefer this type of apology need their partner to request to be forgiven. This can be very difficult for some to do, and the simple act of asking for something in a moment such as this can make that person feel very vulnerable. However, if this is your partner’s chosen form of apology, this could be the best way to apologize (via Cosmopolitan). Even if it feels unnatural, asking for forgiveness could get your relationship back on track quickly after a conflict.
Many of us have benefited from the information the love language quiz provided us about ourselves, our partners, and our families. Now, having the knowledge of your partner’s apology language could go even further in helping us communicate during a heated time. Experts have found that many couples differed so much in their apology preferences that, sometimes, one person’s chosen form of apology was their spouse’s last choice (via Focus on the Family).
If your goal is peace and tranquility in your relationships, it is definitely beneficial to find out how to apologize to each other. Oftentimes communication is the most challenging part of being in a long-lasting relationship. The apology language gives us the tools to apologize sincerely and effectively to the people we love the most.