It is safe to assume that all of us have had a healthy portion of “humble pie” in our lifetimes. That can come from a variety of experiences but one which never seems to get easier is recognizing your wrongdoing and making an apology.
We could approach it like a thirteen year old being forced to apologize to a younger sibling, gritting through our teeth and wanting to be done with it but that isn’t a true apology and will probably only make the situation worse.
In the June 1990 Ensign, there is a wonderful little gem called “Please Forgive Me”. It highlights a number of reasons we might need to apologize to our spouses. It is well written and beautiful. The author says, “Within a marriage, “little” things often have the greatest impact. And unforgiving attitudes about those little things often sow seeds of greater unhappiness. Forgiving one another for the little hurts in marriage is a big part of building an eternal relationship.” 1
Let us be quick to change those attitudes. This process can begin with an honest apology. Here are a few suggestions:
Be sincere. An apology which comes with sincerity is the most effective. We don’t need flowers, chocolates, toys, special dinners or snacks, televised games, or tickets to make our point. The best apologies come with heartfelt emotion.
Write a letter. For some people, speaking about emotions makes us feel incredibly vulnerable. You can write a letter, recognizing your wrongdoing while laying out the words you struggle to speak. Having been on both sides of this tactic, I know that it helps me organize my thoughts and when received, softens my heart to my spouse.
A clever apology. Do you need to lighten the mood a little first? How about a poem? Roses are red, and violets stink, I said something dumb and just didn’t think. Or perhaps you can make a secret message with symbols and an alphabet key, unlocking the message you need to share. Even an apology by dry erase marker on the bathroom mirror could be helpful.
An apology that comes with service. I would be shocked if I came home to a sink empty of dirty dishes or a clean kitchen. But what a great apology! Recognizing that your spouse cares enough to make restitution or to ease your burdens a bit after they may have been insensitive or whatnot would be a great way to start. Maybe we could clean out a car for the other person or help in some way that there is a need.
Elder Joe J. Christensen said, “To develop a solid marriage, we must be able to admit we are sorry for mistakes we make. … When conflicts in marriage arise, we should be swift to apologize and ask for forgiveness, even though we may not be totally at fault. True love is developed by those who are willing to readily admit personal mistakes and offenses.” 2
I hope that we can walk the higher road, always seeking a spirit of peace and harmony in our marriages as we magnify the light of Christ in our homes.
2 Joe J. Christensen, One Step at a Time: Building a Better Marriage, Family, and You, 39.