Hard to Say I’m Sorry CategoriesTo Your Health & Sanity

Hard to Say I’m Sorry

Relationships can be hard at times.  Marriage can have its challenges.  If I could nail down one thing in a relationship that is so easy, yet so hard, it is the art of apology.  So why is it so hard?  Why are two simple words so difficult to say?  When you say “I’m sorry,” you are admitting wrongdoing.  You are making yourself vulnerable.  Most of all, you are giving power to the other person in the relationship.  Whether they accept your apology is up to them.  They could hold a grudge, use it against you, make you pay for the hurt you have caused or even leave.  So why take the chance?  The answer is easy: Without apology, it is tough to move forward and rebuild trust, the foundation of strong and healthy relationships. 

Let’s take it a step further.  You have said “ I’m sorry” and your partner is still upset.  Have you ever stopped to wonder why?  The answer is simple.  Maybe the way you accept apology is different from your partner’s.  Take a look at the way you accept apology and see how it might be different from the one you love.  Let’s take a look at different ways people give and accept apology.

Expressing Regret is the emotional aspect of an apology: Showing your own sense of shame, guilt and pain for what you have done and letting the other person know that you too are hurt by your actions.  This is the very origin of all apologies.  Without showing regret, just saying you are sorry might not mend the suffering that the other person has experienced.  If you show sincere regret, your better half can see that you have suffered as well.

Accepting Responsibility involves owning your mistake. You are taking the burden upon yourself and showing transparency.  It shows that you will accept the consequences and acknowledge that you have let the other person down, allowing your partner to see that you are humbling yourself by asking them for forgiveness.

Making Restitution sounds like it should be in a courtroom, and unfortunately, it is.  Many law cases come about because two people want more than they had before and are not willing to accept getting back to what they had.  This is not only greedy, it breaks the very trust in the relationship.  If you are willing to apologize and make things right, a sincere apology rebuilds that trust and the foundation.  If you give just a little more, it could allow the bond to grow even stronger than before. 

Genuinely Repenting, simply speaking, means you will try not to do it again.  If you realize that what you have been doing is hurting your significant other and are willing to change your behavior, paired with a genuine apology, it will show that you truly want to change for the other person.  It tells your better half that being in a happy relationship is more important than just making yourself happy.

Lastly, the hardest thing to do is actually Requesting Forgiveness.  It is difficult because you know you have caused pain and that the memory will always be there.  It’s even harder because you are admitting you have done something wrong and it makes you vulnerable and can be uncomfortable.  However, if someone is willing to put themselves at your mercy, it shows that they can accept what you will give them as they truly value your relationship. 

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Know that all of us make mistakes and we will all have to apologize in our relationships.  It is the couples that are willing to accept imperfections, move on and grow from what has happened in the past that endure.  Admitting that you don’t know how to apologize and are willing to learn is a huge step in strengthing your relationship. 

Want a great opportunity to find out more and grow in your relationship? Dr. Gary Chapman New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages, is coming to Richmond this year. This renowned speaker was slated to appear in April but changes had to be made to accommodate the preparations for Coronavirus. Stay tuned at www.ApologyVA.org, we are trying to reschedule for July. You won’t want to miss this!   

As I said in the beginning of the article, relationships are hard, but love is worth fighting for.




Chris Beach

Chris Beach is the Executive Director of the Relationship Foundation of Virginia. He lives in Henrico County with his wife of 16 years and four boys. He is a life-long Richmonder and loves to help couples strengthen their relationships, encourage dads to be active in the lives of their children, and teach youth about the fears and joys of healthy relationships. For more information about the Relationship Foundation of VA, go to www.rfva.org.

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