(My interpretation from Gary Chapmans book the 5 languages of apology)

An Apology is 5 things:

  • Expressing regret – “I am sorry.” 
  • Accepting responsibility – “I was wrong.” 
  • Making restitution – “What can I do to make it right?” 
  • Genuinely repenting – “I will try not to do that again.” 
  • Requesting forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?” 

Now in my experience I have found that for some people they need to hear the words – “I am sorry.” So those exact words need to be said, but you also need to in your own words explain what you are sorry for. 

This is expressing your regret. 

For other’s they need to hear the words – “I was wrong.” So those exact words need to be said, but you also and in your own words, need to explain why you are wrong. 

This is you accepting responsibility. 

To also prove you are willing to put some effort in – you can ask – “What can I do to make it up to you?”  

This is you making restitution. 

Now if you say sorry for doing something and go right out and do it again, it will not look like you really are sorry or have learnt your lesson. So, saying and trying to stick to it – “I will try not to do whatever it was again.” This will go a long way to getting forgiveness. 

This is genuinely repenting. 

And finally, you can now ask – “Can/will you please forgive me?”  

This is you requesting forgiveness. 

Now also remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean it is forgotten, but that it is not brought up in every argument. You want to get to a place where you have dealt with all the underlying issues, start with a clean slate, draw a line under it and move through with new plans and goals.  

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone someone’s actions. It just releases you from further suffer pain and suffering. 

“When you don’t forgive someone, it is like drinking poison and hoping it will hurt the other person.”  

This is a true apology.


From couples counselling northern beaches