Conversing. Building a Healthy Marriage One Conversation at a Time. The Apology Conversation

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1 Conversing Building a Healthy Marriage One Conversation at a Time The Apology Conversation One of the most important things to learn to do in a marriage is to apologize. However, many people find it difficult for various reasons. I have listed below 21 reasons why we struggle with apology: 1. Pride 2. Fear of making the same mistake again. 3. Awareness of your spouse s unconfessed wrongdoing in other areas. 4. Opportunity to shift the blame. 5. Justification and rationalisation of behaviour. It s understandable bearing in mind the circumstances. 6. Incorrectly perceiving apology as weakness not strength. 7. Fear of vulnerability. 8. Mistrust of your spouse. What will they do to me? How will they punish me? 9. Fear of giving leverage. S/he will use it against me. 10. Fear of shifting the power base. 11. Lack of self-awareness resulting in an inability to figure out what you did wrong. 12. Habitual behaviour that results in one s conscience being seared in particular areas. The result is that the culprit does not feel bad about it anymore. 13. Focusing on behaviour and not impact of the behaviour on your spouse. The result is that one can minimize the misdemeanour. What s the big deal? 14. Projecting your likes and dislikes on your spouse. Because you don t mind someone doing it to you, there is the assumption that your spouse feels the same. The important thing to understand is that you are wired differently. One man s food is another man s poison. 15. Genuine lack of awareness of the impact of your behaviour on the other. I didn t know that it affects you so much. If I had known I would not have done it. Therefore I don t need to apologize. Unfortunately we judge ourselves by our intentions but others judge us based on the impact of our behaviour. 16. The manner in which our faults are highlighted by our spouse can cause us to resist apologizing. Instead we turn things around and attack them for not raising their issue in an appropriate manner. This is often a way of avoiding apology. 17. Underestimating the power of apology. 18. Failure to realize that genuine apology makes forgiveness easier. 19. Failure to understand the negative impact of unforgiveness on a marriage. 20. Being so hard on yourself. You feel that apology is not enough. You would rather find other ways to punish yourself. 21. Hoping it will just go away. If I bring it up and apologize I might remind her of something she had forgotten. 1 Conversing The Apology Conversation Paul Nyamuda 2013

2 Identify areas in which you have wronged your spouse. Write them down. Next to them write down the impact of what you have done. Remember that wrongdoing involves sins of commission and omissions. Things you have done and NOT done. Wrongdoing involves attitudes, words and actions. Wrong Actions Impact on spouse Impact on Impact on your Your action plan marriage relationship with to change Wrong Attitude Impact on spouse Impact on Impact on your Your action plan or mind-set marriage relationship with to change 2 Conversing The Apology Conversation Paul Nyamuda 2013

3 Omissions Impact on spouse Impact on Impact on your Your action plan (Things I have not marriage relationship with to change done) Wrongdoing with Impact on spouse Impact on Impact on your Your action plan words marriage relationship with to change 3 Conversing The Apology Conversation Paul Nyamuda 2013

4 So how to apologize? Here is my cardinal rule for how to frame an apology: genuine apologies never contain the words if or but. For example, never say, I m sorry if I hurt your feelings, or I apologize for being insensitive, but such-and-such happened earlier Those words have the effect of watering down the apology by either calling the injury into doubt or assigning true responsibility elsewhere. I ve often heard people tell me, I m sorry if I came across too strong in what I said to you, or something similar; those apologies always felt half-hearted. I notice that once I decide I ve done something wrong and begin to frame an apology, if or but always appears in the first draft. Joseph Burgo True apology involves a number of layers. For the biblical Christian the starting point is repentance before. A lot of people use pretty words to apologize but never deal with the issue as sin before that requires repentance. Our vertical relationship with is of paramount importance. After engaging with and seeking His wisdom on how to communicate with your spouse you can go ahead with the process of apologizing. Based on the earlier exercise begin to communicate your apologies to your spouse using the guideline below. Be mindful of the resistance you have to apologizing. Feel free to articulate to your spouse why you have hesitated to apologize in the past and how that was wrong. Apologize for not apologizing. Try to be very specific. The focus of this exercise is to ensure that our marriages are kept clean because of true confession, repentance and forgiveness. Remember that unforgiveness can result in resentment and bitterness. Bitterness defiles a marriage. The aim is not necessarily to keep bringing up the past, however if there are things that have not been truly dealt with previously, then this is your opportunity. I have outlined this process on the next page. 4 Conversing The Apology Conversation Paul Nyamuda 2013

5 The Process of Apology 1. Admission of guilt/confession This is what I did and this is the impact I think it had on you. 2. Remorse I am sorry. I regret what I did. I wish I had not done it. I never want to do this again. 3. Restitution This is what I am going to do in an attempt to make up for it. This is my action plan to hopefully regain your trust in this area. 4. Reconciliation Will you please forgive me for this? I can t demand your forgiveness but I would like this relationship to be restored." 5. Request In the process it s also good to end with a request for some kind of support. It could sound something like this: This has been an area of weakness for a long time; please pray for me that I will overcome it. As I endeavour to work on this, please hold me accountable by asking me about it from time to time. 5 Conversing The Apology Conversation Paul Nyamuda 2013

6 What does the Bible say about apology? James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Matthew 5:23-24 ESV So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Matthew 12:25 ESV Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 ESV When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,... Luke 17:3-4 ESV Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, I repent, you must forgive him. 6 Conversing The Apology Conversation Paul Nyamuda 2013

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