The catchphrase from a 1970 movie deceived many people. Love means never having to say you’re sorry may sound romantic, but it is a lie. A big lie. The truth? Love means you must say “I’m sorry.” To keep a marriage healthy, there is a seven word question every married couple needs to learn.
Say “I’m Sorry” Often
Dennis and I learned the principle of forgiveness about year 15 into our marriage. We learned that
Forgiveness is offered and given daily…and some days—over and over!
Jesus gave his disciples these instructions: No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.” Luke 17:4
The disciples were just like you and me wondering….
How in the world can you forgive that many times A DAY for the SAME offense?
Like them, we cry out Lord, give us more faith to do this! Give us a greater measure of faith, cuz I ain’t got that much on my own!
Who says “sorry” first?
Think about it. Don’t you find it relatively easy to apologize if the other person says, I am sorry, first? Saying it first is sometimes hard to swallow. You would never claim perfection in marriage. You just believe your spouse was more wrong; he or she ought to say I am sorry first. Chris Brauns
Dennis and I practice a seven-word question to keep peace in our marriage and home. Scripture reminds us
if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults.
A healthy marriage cannot have unforgiveness as the elephant in the room. To support health, learn these seven words.
Seven Words Every Marriage Needs
“I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
Begin by using an “I” statement.
An I-statement is a way of communicating about a problem to another person without accusing them of being the cause of the problem
“I am taking responsibility by asking for forgiveness.”
You are expressing your feelings and asking for what you want in the relationship.
Sometimes, being humble is being willing to say “I am sorry” first.
Past tense. Not in the present, but past. (Like one second ago).
I recognze that what happened or what was said was wrong.
John Newton expressed his personal understanding of past tense when he penned Amazing Grace:
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.
Accept guilt. Take ownership of your fault.
Wrong: Admission of not being correct in action, judgment, opinion, or method.
I was wrong. I take full responsibility for MY actions.
My response. My attitude. My behavior. My thoughts. My emotional outburst.
Asking this places the offended party in control.
You are making a request for them to decide, determine, or choose forgiveness.
The next move is theirs to make.
Yes, this is a “You” message, but it is a correct one. You’re allowing your spouse (or anyone you are communicating with) an opportunity to respond.
It is not a complicated request. The request is concise. To the point.
Yes. Or no.
What if the answer is NO?
Forgiveness is a decision.
- A choice.
- An act of the will.
- It’s …..
- Giving up your right to “get even”
- Surrendering your right to be angry.
- Letting go of blame, resentment, and negativity toward your spouse.
- Setting your heart toward God and pleading “Give me more faith!”
All 100% ME. Me, myself and I.
Admitting you are wrong takes courage and humility. Blame-shifting (trying to blame your spouse or the other person ) is not the correct way to receive forgiveness.
Take ownership for your part in the offense.
“I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
Seven words. Your marriage needs to learn them….and put into practice.
Love means saying you ARE sorry.
When you do admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness, remember this:
An apology does not seek justice—it seeks forgiveness. Ray Deck III
Who needs to hear the seven-word question from you today?
What will you do if your apology isn’t accepted?