I’m sorry isn’t good enough

Jay Dee

I’m sorry isn’t good enough

Oct 21, 2016

If you have a healthy marriage, then you’ll end up saying “I’m sorry” many times.  The problem is that saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.  If you want to see extra growth in your marriage, you’re going to have to take it to the next level.

I'm sorry isn't good enough

If you have a healthy marriage, then you’ll end up saying “I’m sorry” many times.  The problem is that saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.  If you want to see extra growth in your marriage, you’re going to have to take it to the next level.

So, what is that next level?  Well, here’s the formula I learned a few years ago for asking for forgiveness.  It’s what I teach to my children, and to my coaching clients.

The formula for apologizing

I’m sorry for [behaviour].  Will you forgive me?

That’s it.  Seems simple right?  Well, it’s not.  It’s downright difficult, and unpleasant.  Why?

Because saying “I’m sorry” says that you feel bad about what happens, or what you did.  In fact, without specifying what it is you feel sorry about, you can simply be sorry that your spouse is upset.  That’s not a genuine apology.  It’s just a statement.

Saying “I’m sorry for what I did” shows regret.  It shows that you understand that you did something wrong.  It means you recognize that you have growing to do.  Instead of stating that “feelings” are the problem, you are stating that you are the problem.  Once you acknowledge that, then you can actually do something to fix it.

Then there’s the forgiveness part.  This might be even harder.  Asking for forgiveness requires humbling yourself.  It means putting yourself at their mercy.  It’s asking them to not be fair, to not be just.  It’s asking them to be selfless because you were selfish.  That’s a hard thing to do.

Following this formula leads to a life of selflessness.  Regularly lowering yourself and putting yourself at the mercy of your spouse. They will do the same to you, assuming they follow the same formula.  When you both are willing to come to each other, to recognize that you are broken and need mercy, not justice.  When you both realize that you’re both sinners and that you will both continuously disappoint each other.  Then you can move past a performance based marriage, and have a marriage instead build on choice.  The choice to love each other, unconditionally, regardless of what happens.

Anything can be forgiven.  It just need a broken heart, on both sides, and for each side to want the relationship repaired.

So, use this formula to help you do that.

I’m sorry for [behaviour].  Will you forgive me?

Looking for help?

7 thoughts on “I’m sorry isn’t good enough”

  1. Kay says:

    I’ve been teaching (and modeling) this formula to my kids. It is so important.

    Unfortunately my husband is the king of non-apologies. “I’m sorry what I did made you mad.”

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You could always respond with “That’s a statement, not an apology”.

      1. Hurting says:

        Then comes the inevitable “okay well then I’m not sorry”.

        I’m so sick of hearing “I’m sorry you’re upset”.

        It’s not even a statement. It’s an insult. Sadly my husband says “I’m sorry you’re upset” as hi was of deliberately emphasizing that he sees himself as having done nothing wrong and that in the bad guy for trying to raise an issue with him that he doesn’t want to talk about.

        How can a relationship go forward when even after abuse, the person who has been abusive tries to make out that the only problem is that the victim is upset rather than the problem being what the abuser has done?

        How can you make someone see that saying “I’m sorry that you’re upset” is worse than saying nothing at all?

  2. Mike says:

    I use a similar formula that is difficult to admit to: “I was wrong (for________), Please forgive me.” I took me years to admit that to my father. Once I did the barriers between us came crashing down.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Twenty-one years later and my wife and I are still working on this…. We’ve been doing it all these years, but there are still times that our pride or our old nature still show up and make things more complicated than they need to be. It good to be reminded that sometimes a simple apology is better than a ten minute excuse.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, it’s difficult. It’s even harder when you try to apologize like that to your young children.

  4. LatterDay Marriage says:

    The amount of regret/remorse shown needs to be in proportion to the level of hurt caused. You can’t offer a teaspoon of regret to smooth over bucket of pain you’ve inflicted. It’s that regret that makes a it believable when you say you are sorry and won’t do it again. I think a person should also do their best to make up for what they did as best they can.

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