So many apologies inside a marriage fall short. Maybe the apology is sincere and unconditional, but that isn’t enough. A complete apology establishes a restoration of the relationship, not just expresses remorse or sorrow.
In many of my opportunities to apologize to my wife, I’ve often fallen woefully short of completing the apology that results in restoration of our marriage relationship. It’s important to understand every offense creates a division in the marriage relationship. The offense may be small, therefore the division is small, but over time the relationship can really struggle from death by a thousand cuts.
A complete apology is the only resolution to the divisions created by offenses. Time can enable us to somewhat forget about offenses, but time will never remove the divide created by an offense. These divisions in a marriage relationship can only be removed by an unconditional and sincere apology that includes these final three elements.
An apology that ends with a statement like “I’m sorry I was rude to you” does not complete the act of apology. This shortsighted apology ends with only an expression of sorrow or remorse. A complete apology seeks after the complete restoration of the relationship. Therefore, the apology must move beyond expressions of sorrow or remorse.
The first step in the restoration of the relationship is forgiveness. “I’m sorry I was rude to you. Can you please forgive me?” Forgiveness is not an act of validating an offense. Rather, forgiveness is setting aside resentment for the offense. By asking for forgiveness, the offender is asking the other spouse to enable the restoration process by setting aside resentment. Forgiveness is rarely immediate, so be patient with the process of forgiveness.
The word repentance is often used synonymously with an apology. However, the biblical context of repentance includes a turning away from sin. Biblical repentance requires a person to express sorrow or remorse, but it also requires that person turn away from sin. To turn away from a sin means one commits to himself, God, and the offended to avoid such offense in the future.
Restoration after an offense can’t happen if there remains a chance the offense will be repeated. A repeated offense, especially after a shortsighted apology, destroys the trust in a relationship. To complete an apology and maintain the trust in a marriage relationship, the offender must repent – make a sincere commitment to God and their spouse to avoid such offenses in the future.
A sincere apology will be accompanied by a deep desire to reconcile the offense. “How can I make it up to you?” Sincerity drives a person to want to make it up to their spouse. Reconciliation can be sped up by the offended having some need met that otherwise may have gone unmet.
The offended spouse could have almost any need, but it’s likely to be a completely reasonable request in the face of an unconditional and sincere apology. Be prepared to attend to a dreaded household chore or plan an adventurous date. Whatever the case, serve your spouse according to their request and reconciliation is a certainty.
Given the first two elements I share in the previous article, you are now ready for complete apologies that ensure forgiveness, reconciliation, and a deeper relationship in your future.
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