Is His Apology Real?
Your husband just apologized, but you’re unsettled by your mental gymnastics that doubt his sincerity. Perhaps these sound familiar, “He sounds sorry. Can I trust his apology? But, I’ve heard this before. I wish he had just said, (fill in the blanks). What if he does it, again?” and on and on your monkey mind travels. The answer may seem complex and difficult due to personal expectations, and personal and relationship history. To avoid more mind-twisting ruminations and to finally get some peace, ask yourself these 7 reflective questions:
- Is he empathetic to your emotional pain? Will he listen to your pain until you get closure? If so, it’s worth considering accepting the apology and moving on, together. But, if he just wants to move on, stop talking about it, or tells you to, “…get over it. I said I was sorry.” Then, yes, you may need to get over it and fast. “It” being the relationship and him.
- Is he remorseful? I’m not talking about he’s sorry he got “caught.” I’m talking about real regret for making a decision that wounded another human being.
- Is he accepting full responsibility for his actions? Or is there blame involved such as, “If you hadn’t/had, I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank)?” If blame is part of the apology, his apology isn’t sincere.
- Will he do what it takes to repair it? I’m not talking giving you flowers or calling/texting you incessantly to ask how you’re doing. I’m talking about voluntarily giving you the information you need to feel safe with him, again.
- Was restitution given freely? If physical compensation or restoration is needed to make it right, was it freely offered and completed on a timely basis without your involvement?
- Is there true repentance? Now, before you turn from this thinking it’s a religious term, give me a moment. Repent literally means to turn from. So in this case, it means the “event” never happens, again. It’s actually a great way to live: do something wrong/hurtful, acknowledge it, apologize and never do it, again.
- The over-riding factor you must consider regardless of the sincerity of the apology is this: was the transgression a 1-time event or was this a repeat offense? if the latter, then you’re dealing with a character issue and you need to seriously consider moving on. This also applies if the offenses are different. Poor choices in multiple areas signify a serious character flaw. This is not an opportunity to “love him through it.” It’s time for you to have enough self-respect to be only with people that cherish, honor and support you. This includes family, friends, and co-workers. But, more importantly, you need to be with someone who has enough self-respect that he wouldn’t put himself in situations that could hurt himself or wound others.
If your husband meets all the above criteria for a sincere apology, then it is time to put it to rest and rebuild together. And refrain from revisiting it. It’s tiresome to keep hearing about something that happened years ago. This is especially true if it never happened again. We ALL make mistakes. His mistake isn’t worse than your transgressions. They are all the same when it comes to a hurting heart.
Have you hurt someone? Reflect on the questions. Be brutally honest. If you need to sincerely and honor someone’s pain due to a bad decision/action on your part, ask for forgiveness. Then be completely accountable. Please read my other related blog post, “How to Help Those You Hurt”
Disclaimer: the above is a compilation of blog posts, transcripts, columns, etc… often titled the “The 4 R’s of an Apology.” Because I’ve been on both ends of apologies and wrong-doing, please watch for my other related blog posts, “How to Help Those You Hurt” and “7 Ways to Mess Up an Apology.”