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Slide Notes

Sadly many couples don’t actually know how to apologise and reconcile when they’ve hurt their spouse. People think that it’s obvious, or that it should just be instinctual, or that love should make it all happen spontaneously.


Well it isn’t and it doesn’t.

The Art Of Apology

Published on Nov 18, 2015

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PRESENTATION OUTLINE

RECONCILIATION

DOESN'T HAPEN SPONTANEOUSLY
Sadly many couples don’t actually know how to apologise and reconcile when they’ve hurt their spouse. People think that it’s obvious, or that it should just be instinctual, or that love should make it all happen spontaneously.


Well it isn’t and it doesn’t.

FIVE ESSENTIALS

TO THE ART OF THE APOLOGY
We see too many wounded couples stuck in a pattern of entrenched blame and reactivity for the process of an apology to be a simple matter. In reality, a bit of knowledge and training is invaluable because sometimes, good intentions are simply not enough to restore the relationship.

Here are five elements to the art of an apology.
Photo by Leo Reynolds

1:ADMIT YOUR ERROR

NO EXCUSES, IF'S, BUT'S, OR WHY'S
It’s amazing how hard some people find this. They acknowledge that something went wrong, but they dodge and weave to avoid accepting responsibility for it themselves. There’s always an excuse, or someone else who is more at fault.

“I said things that hurt you but you made me so angry”.
“I know I forgot to get milk but it wasn’t my fault”.
“I shouldn’t have shouted at you but you provoked me”.

It might be true, but the thing is, as soon as ‘but’ or ‘if’ slips into the admission of error, the message that your spouse hears is that you really don’t think you believe you were at fault. Taking responsibility for your error is not only essential for your intimate relationships to thrive, it is fundamental to your spiritual growth.

2:ACKNOWLEDGE THE HARM

HE/SHE NEEDS TO HEAR YOU SAY IT
One of the things that often holds people back from accepting an apology and granting forgiveness is the sense that their spouse doesn’t really understand the full extent of the harm. They rightly still fear that there will be a recurrence because if there is no genuine understanding of the harm done, the person can too easily repeat the offence. The wounded spouse feels like they have to remain defended because there is this uncertainty about whether the other really is motivated to avoid a recurrence.

3:EXPRESS YOUR SORROW

AND MAKE IT HEARTFELT!
“I’m sorry, OK!” is not an apology in anyone’s language. So often people think that if they just say the words, “I’m sorry” then it is enough. Well the words have to be said with genuine sorrow and regret. They have to be heartfelt and if you have (1) Admitted your Error and (2) Acknowledged the Harm, they should be. In fact you don’t feel deep, authentic sorrow after doing the first two steps, you either didn’t do them properly (so do them again) or there’s something wrong with you and you need to see a psychologist. Seriously – we’re not being funny – get some help.

4:REQUEST FORGIVENESS

IN HUMILITY AND WITHOUT DEMAND
For many people, this is actually the hardest part of an apology because it requires complete vulnerability and the surrender of all power to the offended person. When we ask for forgiveness, we are really asking the other person to let us back into their hearts. If you’ve done all the other parts of the apology process and have a genuine sorrow, the request for forgiveness is a natural next step but forgiveness can never be demanded and the response must always be respected, even if it is to withhold forgiveness.

5:COMMIT TO CHANGE

YOUR SPOUSE NEEDS TO KNOW IT WON'T RECUR
Your spouse may have sincerely forgiven you and released their resentment towards you, but that doesn’t automatically mean that they can or should trust you immediately. Words and intentions need to be followed through with consistent action. Only then, will trust be gradually and fully restored.

Most offences are serial – he doesn’t just shout at her once, he’s done it lots of times. She doesn’t just criticise him on one occasion or about one thing, it’s a pattern. For the offended person to be able to not just forgive, but trust again with full openness, there has to be a demonstrated commitment to reform. And when there is a serious hurt and breach of trust between a husband and wife such as infidelity or violence, for reconciliation to be possible there must sincere repentance that requires you to not just say how you will change but to follow it up with sustained action.
Photo by ecstaticist

THE ART OF APOLOGY

Being able to successfully reconcile in a marriage is a vital skill for sustaining the love and warmth in the relationship. And it begins with understanding the Art of Apology. Research reveals that each person has a ‘preference’ for one aspect of the apology process - that element is so important to them, that if it isn’t part of an apology, they just don’t believe that the apology is sincere. For example, if expressing sorrow is key for you, unless you hear the words, “I’m sorry”, you just won’t be able to accept the apology.

And often, the aspect that is key for your spouse, is the one thing that you find hardest.

The Art of Apology list is not a smorgasbord where you pick out only the parts you like; it’s a complete meal deal. Master all of these aspects of apology so that you can be sure that every time you apologise, no matter who it is, you can be sure to have all the bases covered.

WWW.SMARTLOVING.ORG

For more information and other great tips to make your marriage vibrant and strong, visit
www.smartloving.org
Photo by hang_in_there