How to say "I'm Sorry"

How to say "I'm Sorry", how to apologize, how to ask forgiveness, how to apologize to spouse
In 41 years of marriage, I’ve found HOW I say “I’m sorry” to my husband is crucial. 
  • I can say it without any genuine sorrow or thought.
  • I can say it with an excuse attached.
  • I can say it with a blame-shift attached.
  • I can say it self-righteously.
None of these is healthy or constructive.*

Here’s three things I ask God to help me do when I need to apologize:

1. Show me exactly what I did and the sinful attitude behind it. Then ask forgiveness for these specifics, not vague generalizations.
  • "Will you forgive me for being critical and short-tempered today?" 
  • not: "If I did anything to bother you today, I'm sorry" 
  • not: "I'm sorry I haven't been at my best."
2. Remember that forgiveness is a gift I don’t deserve. Forgiveness is always a gift, whether from God, a spouse or a friend. We should never demand it or get angry if the person isn't immediately forgiving. (see He "Apologized" for His Affair.)

3. Allow some time between my apology and a discussion. It’s important to work through things that are causing friction, but timing is important. If explanations follow too soon after an apology, they sound more like excuses. A sincere apology will not include "ifs, ands or buts."

So next time you’re wrong…even if you aren’t the only one wrong, give the gift of a sincere, heartfelt apology. The Lord is eager to help you do this!
*Paul talks about genuine repentance in 2 Corinthians 7. Also read James 4:8-10. 

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  1. Good points! I remember reading about how to make a true apology in Ken Sande's Peacemaker materials so reading this this morning was a great reminder!


  2. Oh, my, your advice is wise and convicting. I love the reminder that a sincere apology does not include ifs, ands, buts. I tend to be quick to apologize but then still want to explain "my side." Not sincere. I'm printing out your points and filing it in my "marriage tips"! Great to meet you thru Ann today.

    1. Thanks, Alicia. I'm glad this was helpful. I need to remind myself of these things as well. thanks for stopping by and leaving an encouraging comment.

  3. I "forgave" my husband...but I held onto the hurt, anger and he suffered my wrath. When I finally realised after years of suffering my own ignorance and loss in my marriage and I truly forgave him - I released him to start his own healing process. I apologised to him for my dishonesty and our marriage healed. Thank you for your encouragement to all of us that apology is the start of healing.

  4. Yours is a good point, Noeline. How we forgive is just as critical as how we apologize. And even if someone apologizes genuinely, we can fail to forgive genuinely. Thanks for sharing your story and the victory you had in it. I pray that God will continue to bless your marriage relationship with genuine repentance, forgiveness, and love.

  5. Hi Gail - point number 3 is hard for me! I apologise and then I want to deal with the issue. He wants to mull over it and think it through. So, for me, great advice. Saving this post as a favourite. One always needs to read stuff like this. Great post
    God bless

    1. I'm with you on that one, Tracy, and I'm a slow learner...but I'm pressing on. Thanks for your comment and encouragement.

  6. Gail,
    I just saw found you on No Ordinary Blog Hop! I love your point that forgiveness is a skill and habit that can be learned and practiced. It's a gift for any relationships, and it's also God's gift to us!
    Thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Dr. Ann. It means a lot coming from someone with your experience.

  7. This is a great post- thanks Gail! I especially can relate to "A sincere apology will not include ifs, ands or buts." Guilty here! Thank you for this thought provoking post.

    ~Nicole, Working Kansas Homemaker

  8. Hi, Gail,
    I shared your post on my FB page and linked back to you as part of featuring you on the weekly link-up. I hope you will consider contributing often. God bless you, new friend :)

  9. I need to print this so that I can keep it :-) handy. Your advice is so perfect but it can be hard to put into practice and 'let go' of the issue at hand. I don't hold grudges very long, I can't even remember the offense, but I MUST forgive, and without realizing, it is too easy to ask forgiveness still clarifying reasons why I am right. What kind of apology is that?! It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that I press on to His high calling on my life. Thanks so much Gail. What a precious friend. I think I am going to post this to my FB page too!!

  10. Beautiful post and came just at the right time...actually today the Lord ministered to me and I had to apologize...I really felt the blessing of a heartfelt apology...so God just used you to confirm this powerful true for my marriage..keep up the good work! Remain blessed xx PS I´ll also featured you on my FB Page: Womanhood With Purpose ;)

    1. Thanks, Angie, for sharing how God is working in your life, and thanks for sharing this post on your FB page. Bless you, Gail

  11. It really takes humility to say, "I'm sorry, or I was wrong." Especially when you are angry. The Holy Spirit has a way of making us uncomfortable with results of bad behavior. As God has forgiven us, we have to be willing to forgive others, especially our spouse.


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