How to Best Say Sorry

In a marriage seminar, Rick Warren once told the husbands in the room, “Do you know why you have problems in your marriage? Because you married a sinner!” Before the husbands could gloat and the wives could gasp, Warren quickly added, “and she married a bigger one!”


Sometimes I wonder which is harder: the offended party to forgive or the offender to apologize. If you find it hard to say sorry, let me share some tips on smoothing the ruffled feathers:


Apologize without exception. Believe thou me, I heard people saying “Why should I apologize when I have done nothing wrong?” Well, if the other party was hurt, that is evidence that you indeed have done something wrong. When you stubbornly refuse to admit your mistake, you are actually hardening your heart and if that becomes a habit, it’s all downhill from there. While this sounds counter-intuitive, even though it’s not your fault, it won’t hurt to say “sorry.”


Apologize without excuse. Doesn’t it infuriate you when someone “apologizes” only to insist he is still correct? Many apologies go “I’m sorry but…” The ‘but’ has a nasty habit of negating the contrition. Rick Warren has another gem that goes like this: “When you’re right, you don’t need a defense. When you’re wrong, you don’t have a defense.” So learn how to say “I’m sorry. I was wrong. No excuses.”


Apologize without ego. Why do we hate apologizing? Because it feels painful. Why is that? You have to do some soul-searching for yourself, but my experience is that we usually pride ourselves for being smart or right all the time. When we fall short, it wounds this pride.


So what’s the antidote to such pride? It is to look at the Cross. Jesus died for us so that when we put our trust in Him, God sees and accepts us as His dearly beloved children. Therefore, our identity is no longer based on how our spouse regards us. In Christ, we are already utterly loved, accepted and complete. Thus we have nothing to prove or defend. Saying “sorry” won’t diminish us.


So there you have it. Apologize without exception. Apologize without excuse. Apologize without ego. And if you still hate to apologize for doing something wrong, then don’t do it in the first place.


After all, the best apology is a changed behavior.

Photo credit from Grammarly

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