By Kermit Rowe, Encompass Relationship Facilitator
Most of us have heard of the Five Love Languages, famously authored by Dr. Gary Chapman nearly three decades ago. They are so powerful in connecting couples that Encompass Connection Center has long incorporated the teachings of the Five Love Languages into its comprehensive relationship skills training.
But there are five more languages that may be just as helpful in building good communication as their more famous counterparts. They also come from Dr. Chapman, along with help from Jennifer Thomas. They are The Five Languages of Apology. Want to know what they are?
Apology is desirable to receive but hard to give. It requires us to humble ourselves and admit the obvious – that we are not perfect, and that we make mistakes. We know this, but to admit it … well, that takes a healthy dose of humility. And if we’re honest, to most of us humility is humiliating.
It assaults our pride. And we don’t like it. We tend to avoid apologizing, even though we are told in the Word of God that pride comes before the fall. Many marriages have fallen without apology. If only they’d have used these five languages. Love IS saying you’re sorry!
The five languages of apology are:
The idea behind expressing regret is to show the person you hurt that you know you have hurt them. You never want someone whose relationship you value to feel that you can’t see how you are hurting them, be it intentionally or non-intentionally. That leads them to think that either you really don’t know who they are or don’t care enough to be sorry for hurting them – that you don’t value them. If they know your mistake affected you as deeply as it did them, that is a common ground on which to build a genuine apology.
Accepting responsibility is the glue that holds an apology. Are you more sorry that they are hurting, or more sorry that you hurt them? See how this drills down to the pride issue? And saying, “If I said or did anything wrong, I’m sorry” … that is NOT accepting responsibility, it is skirting it.
Making restitution is sticky. The idea that you are indebted to them is not a good environment for resolution, because no one likes to be in debt, right? The Word says we are a slave to our debtors. Previous question answered!
Genuinely repenting isn’t just stopping the offense that necessitates the apology. It is turning away and running away from it, like it is a ferocious lion. Because it is! And this lion feeds on non-repentance.
And now, we come to the walk-off. The mic drop! Forgiveness is more likely to truly be achieved, or granted, when it is requested. That means we have to crucify self in order to resurrect our life-giving relationship with the one we are apologizing to. Sound familiar? Salvation plan: asking = forgiveness.
Hmmm … the language of apology is also the language of faith? Who woulda known?!
Encompass Connection Center helps couples learn how to resolve issues and create fulfilling, productive relationships. For many couples, those issues can stem from a lack of participation. Just like any problem, though, participation issues can be fixed. We offer a free relationship assessment to determine your relationship’s strengths and potential threats. For more help, look into our RINGS Experience, which includes marriage strengthening exercises and a coaching model to help build real intimacy and growth skills.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.