“Make sure you apologize when you bump into someone.”
“If you don’t finish your vegetables, you’ll be sorry!”
For as long as we can remember, we’ve been apologizing. Some of us apologize for everything. I tend to apologize when someone bumps into me– as if I’m expressing my regret at being in his or her way. Others are very slow to offer an apology, weighing out the facts, analyzing the situation, and only throwing out an admission of guilt if it is deserved.
Something as ingrained in our character as saying, “I’m sorry,” should come naturally to us, right? Well, as Dr. Chapman and Dr. Thomas share with us in their book The Five Apology Languages, humans apologize in different ways! Can there just be some area of relationships that’s not complicated?! Such has occasionally been the cry of my heart! ~smile~
Please Let Me Know You Regret What You’ve Done
Several years ago, I found myself in the middle of an office spat. A co-worker who was going through a particularly rough patch lit into me over a number of perceived injustices.
After a day or so had passed, this co-worker approached me to apologize, or so I thought. She spent a good amount of time talking and then hugged me; yet, she never apologized for what she had done. Though I was keenly aware of the fact that she never uttered the phrase, “I’m sorry,” I wonder if she thought she had apologized to me. Maybe what she did was her way of apologizing. I wasn’t up to speed on the concept of apology languages then, but I have since discovered my apology language is Expressing Regret. I feel apologized to when someone seems deeply sorrowful for the transgression.
Maybe my co-worker did apologize to me. Maybe I just didn’t realize it because she didn’t speak my apology language. Thankfully, we did turn out to have a good relationship and I think she is a wonderful person to this day.
When I was a teenager, a friend of mine said something hurtful to me. About an hour later, she approached me, sat down in front of me with tear-filled eyes, and said, “I hurt you, and I am sorry.” Apparently, that apology touched me deeply as I still think about it to this day. ~smile~
Okay, So You’re Sorry. What Are You Going to Do About It?
Just as it takes some time, energy, and practice to understand how to love your sweetie in his or her love language, it also takes time, energy, and practice to understand how your significant other receives apologies.
Many times, I have poured my regret onto Eric when I hurt or angered him. I would share my sorrow in hopes that he would see my heart and know that I wanted to restore our relationship. You can imagine how taken aback I was to hear him say, ”So, what are you going to do about it?”
To me, this was a slap in the face.
What am I going to do about it? Nothing. What can I do about it besides show you how anguished I feel for hurting you? The past is gone. I can’t change it.
To Eric, the past may be gone, but the future will keep repeating if something doesn’t change.
I can evision him thinking, “Yes, you hurt me and I know you’re sorry. But what plans are you putting in place to make sure you don’t do this again? When the same temptation rears its head later, how will you be sure not to make the same mistake? When you break something of mine, you should replace it. When you belittle me in front of others, you should also apologize to them. Please make it right so I know you’re truly sorry.”
These conversations are fictitious, but not unthinkable. ~smile~ I could easily see this dialogue unfolding in our household.
Just today, I sent Eric an apology e-mail. As always, I expressed regret at what I had done. Long story short, he tried to talk to me about a scheduling issue while I was still sleepy – and, as my old roommate used to say, “Never wake a sleeping bear.” My tone was far from sweet and I doubt he left for work in the most chipper of moods. As I was expressing regret, I remembered Eric’s apology language is Making Restitution. So, I let him know that I was going to do my best to respond with respect towards him over the next few days, and I offered him a restorative backrub (which he happily accepted). ~smile~
Which Language Comes Most Naturally to You?
The following are the five apology languages covered in Dr. Chapman and Dr. Thomas’s book:
- Expressing Regret – “I am sorry.”
- Accepting Responsibility – “I was wrong.”
- Making Restitution – “What can I do to make it right?”
- Genuinely Repenting – “I’ll try not to do that again.”
- Requesting Forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?”
Which language best suits you? If you’re not sure, you can find out by taking the apology language quiz! Knowing this bit of information about yourself and your sweetie can save you much heartache! There’s little in this world more insulting than having someone toss aside your heartfelt apology as if it’s disingenuous or contrived. Bypass the confusion and learn how to say, “I’m sorry,” in that special way which shoots right to his or her heart!
After you both take the quiz, discuss the results and talk about your apology preferences. Even within the main languages, there can be varying dialects. Some may prefer an emotionless expression of regret while others enjoy eye contact and tears. Some want a flamboyant apology while others prefer something quiet and casual. And, some just want a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and some chocolate – and maybe a quick, “I’m sorry, Sweetie.” ~smile~
Have fun with this quiz as you learn a little something extra about yourself and your sweetheart!
What is your apology language and how does it compare to your sweetie’s?