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Repair rather than just apologizing

cocoplus5nuts posted 10/21/2020 08:56 AM

Our MC has been working with my H on this. Rather than just saying you're sorry, you apologize, state what you did, and state how you will keep from doing it again.

I think those last 2 parts are what's missing in a lot of apologies, and why we BPs are left feeling like they are empty. It gets very aggravating hearing, "I'm sorry," over nad over again when it appears there is no awareness or acknowledgement of what was done wrong (no responsibility taken), and no ideas or plans of how to prevent it in the future.

That's what we want in order to R, right? We need our CPs to take full responsibility for what they did, and have a plan on how to prevent it from happening again. I also need that in daily interactions. It's not enough for my H to say he's sorry that he forgot something again for the umpteenth time. I need him to make it clear that he knows what the problem was and that he had a plan to remember it next time. Otherwise, I feel unheard and not cared for.

Just thought I'd offer that up as something possibly helpful for anyone struggling with apologies.

dancin-gal posted 10/21/2020 09:38 AM

You are right on point .. the I am sorry really doesnít work .. if behavior doesnít change .

Oldwounds posted 10/21/2020 10:26 AM

Good post and it's very important to have a chance at R.

I explained to my wife fairly early on, when she would apologize for her defensiveness -- if you kick someone in the shin every day, on the 99th day, the apology is going to sound a bit hollow.

If the apology includes a plan to be better or do better, it has more muscle to it. As long as some actual changes happen.

NotMyFirstRodeo posted 10/21/2020 10:34 AM

I agree. Another area of importance to me is my WS bringing up painful topics herself instead of waiting for me to do it. Her willingness to bring it up provides some evidence that she knows it's worthy of her own consideration and it is on *her mind*. If it only comes up when I bring it up, how am I to feel she sees it as anymore than a passing topic or squeaky wheel needing oil?

Walloped posted 10/21/2020 10:40 AM

The words are fine and even necessary, but if theyíre not backed up by actions and concrete steps then theyíre worthless. If I had a nickel for every time my wife said Iím sorry...

Look, itís good she did say it and say it often, but if she didnít also follow through in her behavior and how she worked on herself and dealt with me, then R would have been over a long time ago.

In the end, itís what you do that matters. And the WS needs to show that what they did is not the sum total of who they are and the only way to really do that is through actions.

cocoplus5nuts posted 10/21/2020 20:19 PM

I spotted the sheet she gave us with this on it. I left a couple of things out. Before you start, you get what she calls buy in. You ask the person if they are ready to hear what you have to say. If they say, they are, you state what you did, why you did it (personal responsibility, not blaming the other person), and how you will prevent it in the future.

CaptainRogers posted 10/22/2020 07:38 AM

Gary Chapman (the guy who wrote the Love Languages book) also wrote a book on the languages of apology. It hits very close to home. The five parts to it are:

*expressing regret
*accepting responsibility
*making restitution
*genuinely repenting
*requesting forgiveness

While all 5 would be considered part of a true, full apology, each of us desires one or two of these above all else.

I'm sorry. It was wrong to treat you this way. What can I do to make it up? I want to treat you better moving forward. Will you forgive me?

Something (or things) among that likely stick out in your head as being the part you need to hear. For me, I need to hear the "it was wrong" and "how can I make it up" parts. For my wife, she wants to hear the "will you forgive me" and "I'm sorry" aspects.

A true, heartfelt apology goes a long way as a salve. It doesn't bring the healing, but it sure does help.

TheLostOne2020 posted 10/22/2020 08:56 AM

An apology without any action is just empty words, in my opinion. That's one of the main issues I had with my ex. She (eventually) apologized but it was meaningless - I couldn't even trust her to stop her behavior and she didn't actually DO anything.

Want2BHappyAgain posted 10/22/2020 09:21 AM

Very GOOD post...thanks for sharing !

That's what we want in order to R, right?

YES...it is! I will never have enough "I'm sorry" from my H...BUT words alone don't mean anything. I needed to know WHY he was sorry. At first my H would just say he was sorry. I immediately would ask why. I wasn't letting him get off with just "I'm sorry". It didn't take long for him to realize he had to give his why also.

There are times when I need to hear what his plan is for not doing something he has to apologize for. But just acknowledging it at times is all I need. It shows he is changing his mindset...and that is enough for me too. I always believe actions should follow up with the words...but I also know that words MATTER .

cocoplus5nuts posted 10/22/2020 13:44 PM

I definitely need to hear why my H is apologizing. He's the kind of person who will say he's sorry because that's what he's supposed to say, or because he knows I'm upset, but doesn't really know why. He will assume he knows whyI'm upset. I can't think of once when his assumption was correct. I need to hear that he knows what he did that upset me.

I also need to hear his plans for preventing it in the future. It's not enough to say it won't happen again. How are you going to ensure that? What are you going to do next time this type of situation happens?

landclark posted 10/23/2020 19:56 PM

Iím actually struggling with this with my son. We try to talk to him about anything and he says sorry, basically just to get us to shut up. Asking him to state what he did and how he will keep from doing it again is a great idea. Thanks for the tip!

cocoplus5nuts posted 10/24/2020 05:58 AM

I put the sheet my therapist gave me on our fridge so the kids can see. My 13yo already asked about it. Rather than trying to get them to do it, I try to model the behavior.

gmc94 posted 10/24/2020 11:12 AM

Got the same problem, Coco.
TONS of "talks" about the elements of a sincere apology (validation, acknowledgment, empathy, commitment to change the behavior, etc). Using it in practice? No bueno on my WH's part.

I love that you have a sheet to put on the fridge.

IIRC, HTHYSHAYA talks about elements of an apology.

Still SMH at how many CS can't seem to wrap their heads around this.


cocoplus5nuts posted 10/25/2020 06:24 AM

I don't do this, either. As far as I know, this is not commonly taught to people. Kids are just told to say they are sorry. I've never seen an adult explain to a child how to make a repair like this. It's a work in progress for both of us.

Here is exactly what the sheet says, in case anyone wants to copy it for themselves.

Wait for both brains to be calm.

Get buy in: "Would you be willing to hear a repair (or amends)?"


1. This is WHAT I did.
(State the facts of your words/behavior AND how you believe that affected the other person.)

2. This is WHY I did it.
(Look for the most honest motive.)

3. This is HOW I will keep it from happening again.
(What I will do differently next time. )

Waiting for both people to be calm is a huge factor. If either person is still angry/upset, they're brain isn't functioning on a rational level. They won't be able to hear what you're saying. This is especially important with kids, imo. The first response to upset is empathy. That will help everyone calm down. Then, you can do the repair.

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