Today I want to utilize a brief article from growthtrac.com that I will link in the description box. I think it is a wonderful and easy way to understand how to apologize. It is exactly what any husband needs to know. A foreign husband and Filipina wife, perhaps a good deal younger than he is, is a union that may result in more opportunities for conflict that leads to the need for an apology.
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You already know there will be many times you will do something or say something that causes hurt to the Filipina, because men and women have a tendency to do that, because we are sinners. And there are times you’ll say something that upsets someone and you don’t know why it would. Apologizing requires more than saying “I’m sorry.” This article explains why that is and the best way to apologize.
What tends to get me in trouble are my words. Sometimes it is the tone of my voice and other times, all I have to do is make a certain face and I know I am in trouble. I have been told that sometimes when I’m mad, I look like I could kill someone and I believe that. I am an emotional person and don’t like to hold anything in. What someone like me needs to learn to do is to “get it out” with the right words, not the wrong ones, focusing on the problem, without doing it in a way that makes someone feel like they are being attacked.
Language #1: Expressing Regret
Expressing Regret is the emotional aspect of an apology. Regret focuses on what you did (or failed to do) and how it affected the other person. To express regret to your wife is to acknowledge your sense of guilt, shame, and pain about your behavior that hurt her so deeply.
A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward restoring goodwill after an offense. The absence of the words “I’m sorry” will stand out to some people like a Packers jersey at a Bears home game. That’s why the best strategy is to begin every apology with a sincere “I’m sorry.”
In addition to being sincere, an apology should be specific: “I’m sorry for ______________.” The more details you give, the better you communicate to your wife that you understand the depth of what made her upset.
Under no circumstances should words of apology be followed by the word “but”…
Words of sincere regret also need to stand alone. Under no circumstances should they be followed by the word but (“I’m sorry I said you remind me of my mother . . . but sometimes you push me too far”). Any time you shift blame to your wife, you move from an apology to an attack.
If you want your wife to sense your sincerity, you must learn to speak the apology language of regret. Your recognition of her pain will likely inspire her to forgive you.
(What impresses me most about this is the part about communicating to your wife that you understand the depth of what made her upset. If your Filipina is going to use tampo on you, it is best to tell her you are sorry, then wait for her to calm down. A quick hug or touching her shoulder in between would indicate to her that you aren’t going to talk to her about it until she settles down.)
(If she is upset with you for saying something she thinks is derogatory about the Philippines, like calling it a third world country, you might say something like “Honey, I’m sorry I called the Philippines a third world country because I know you have great love for it and I made you feel like I didn’t have respect for the Philippines, please forgive me. I need to see the Philippines the way that you do.”)
Language #2: Accepting Responsibility
Why is it so difficult for some of us to say, “I was wrong”? Often our reluctance to admit wrongdoing is tied to our sense of self-worth. To admit we are wrong is perceived as weakness. So, we rationalize. We gloss over what we did and focus on the why. We may admit what we said or did wasn’t necessarily good or right, but we’re quick to point out our behavior was provoked by someone else’s irresponsible actions. We shift responsibility to someone else because we find it difficult to say, “I was wrong.”
That’s a big problem, because for many people, hearing the words “I was wrong” is what communicates to them that an apology is sincere. If you wife falls into that category, she will not accept your apology as genuine if it doesn’t contain words that accept responsibility for your wrong behavior. Understanding this reality can make all the difference in the world when you sincerely wish to apologize.
(If I let down my Filipina by saying something she thought was derogatory about the Philippines, I might say something like this to her “Sweetheart, I’m sorry I called the Philippines a third world country. I probably sound like a conceited foreigner, and I’d like to think I’m not. Please forgive me for making you think your country isn’t as good as mine, it was thoughtless of me to use that term because I know you don’t like me to say it.”)
Language #3: Making Restitution
In the private sphere of marriage, our desire for restitution is almost always based on our need for love. After being hurt deeply, we need the reassurance that the spouse who hurt us still loves us. Harsh words or hurtful actions call love into question.
For some people, Making Restitution is a primary apology language. As far as they’re concerned, “I’m sorry” must always be accompanied by something along the lines of “What can I do to show you that I still love you?” Without this effort at restitution, they will question the sincerity of the apology. They will continue to feel unloved no matter how many times you say, “I was wrong.” Since the heart of restitution is reassuring your wife that you genuinely love her, it’s essential to express restitution in her primary love language.
For some people, words of affirmation — being told how wonderful or incredible they are in conjunction with the apology — is all the restitution they need.
For some people, gift-giving — something that shows they were being thought of — says “I’m sorry” like nothing else.
For some people, acts of service — vacuuming the floor, washing dishes, doing laundry — prove the sincerity of an apology.
For some people, quality time — giving your undivided attention while you apologize — is restitution enough.
For some people, nothing speaks more deeply of love than physical touch. For them, apology without physical contact is insincere. Which way would you describe yourself?
Whatever your wife’s love language is, keep this in mind: A genuine apology will be accompanied by a desire to right the wrongs that you’ve committed, to make amends for the damage done, and to assure your wife that you genuinely care about her.
(For example, “My love, it is a bad habit to refer to the Philippines as a third world country, I heard that a lot before I married you and since then, I realize you strongly disagree, and you should. I’m sorry for being careless with my words again, please forgive me. I love _________about the Philippines and can’t wait until we visit there again.”)
Language #4: Genuine Repentance
“We have the same old arguments about the same old things.” The woman who shared that analysis with me had been married for nearly thirty years. “My husband apologizes. He promises not to do it again. Then he does it again, whether it’s leaving the bathroom light on or being crabby and unpleasant. I don’t want any more apologies. I want him to stop doing the things that bother me — for good.”
This woman wanted her husband to repent.
The word repentance means “to turn around” or “to change one’s mind.” In the context of an apology in your marriage, it means that you realize your present behavior is destructive. You regret the pain you’re causing your wife, and you choose to change your behavior.
Repentance is more than saying, “I’m sorry; I was wrong. How can I make this up to you?” To repent is to say, “I’ll try not to do this again.” For some people, repentance is what convinces them that an apology is sincere.
Without Genuine Repentance, the other languages of apology may fall on deaf ears. What people who have been hurt want to know is, “Do you intend to change, or will this happen again next week?”
How then do we speak the language of Repentance? It begins with an expression of intent to change. When you share your intent to change with your wife, you communicate to her what’s going on inside you. You’re giving her a glimpse into your heart. And often that is enough to convince her that you mean what you say.
(“Baby, I’m sorry for saying the Philippines is a third world country after you’ve politely told me you don’t like that term. I’m sorry I absent mindedly keep say that. I feel sick when I see your reaction, and how much it bothers me. I am glad you are proud of your country, as you should be, and I will avoid using that term from now on because I don’t want to make you unhappy.”)
Language #5: Requesting Forgiveness
When an offense occurs, it immediately creates a barrier between spouses. Until that barrier is removed, the relationship can’t go forward. An apology is an attempt to remove the barrier. If you discover your wife’s primary language is Requesting Forgiveness, then this is the surest way to remove the barrier.
Asking forgiveness is an admission of guilt. It shows you know you deserve some degree of condemnation or punishment. It shows you are willing to put the future of your relationship in the hands of your wife — the offended person. This takes the control out of your hands, something that’s very difficult for many people to accept.
Asking for forgiveness after you’re expressed an apology using some of the other apology languages often is the key that opens the door to the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation. It may be the one element of your apology your wife is wanting to hear.
The Last Word
The art of apologizing is not easy. It doesn’t come naturally to most people, but it can be learned by all. And it’s worth the effort. Apologizing opens up a whole new world of emotional and spiritual health. Having apologized, we are able to look ourselves in the mirror — and look our wives in the eyes.
Remember, those who sincerely apologize are most likely to be truly forgiven.
(The apology is incomplete without asking to be forgiven. We’ve been married since May 10 of 2015 and I can attest to how difficult it is to ask for forgiveness. I apologize, but often that seems to be the end of the road. I have to tell myself that I should acknowledge I did something I should not have done and that it caused a level of pain in my Filipina, I still need to ask her to forgive me, to allow me to start over.)
(“Honey, will you please forgive me for using the expression third world country about the Philippines? I deserve to have you upset with me; I really do. I have been thoughtless and insensitive to how you feel, and there’s no excuse for that. Your forgiveness is important to me.”)
This is good advice for all of us who have found love beyond the sea.