Apologies & Forgiveness in Marriage

By Julie Baumgardner, MS, CFLE

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A few years ago, my husband and I were at an event. He was being his usual comical self. In the midst of conversation he made a remark that offended me. I’m pretty certain it wasn’t intentional, but it still hurt my feelings. When I brought it to his attention, he kind of laughed and said he didn’t mean anything by it. I explained that even though he didn’t mean anything by it, it embarrassed me and I would appreciate it if in the future he would not make comments like that. I think at that point he clued in that he really had hurt my feelings. He said he was sorry and assured me he would not make that comment again. And, he hasn’t.

If you have been married for any length of time, chances are good that your spouse has done something to offend you. How you bring the offense to your spouse’s attention and how he/she responds has the potential to build up your marriage or tear it apart. All of us have different expectations when it comes to acknowledging a wrong, apologizing, and forgiveness.

In the business world they say that perception is reality. I think the same is true in marriage. Two people can experience the same thing and walk away with two totally different perspectives of what actually happened. Learning how to listen to your spouse’s perspective, and even if you don’t see things the same way, being willing to apologize for the part you may have played in the situation (see more about this on the next page) will go a long way toward enhancing your marriage relationship.

Julie Baumgardner, MS, CFLE, is the executive director of First Things First, a research and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening families through education, collaboration, and mobilization. First Things First offers a variety of classes to help couples strengthen and reinvigorate their marriages. For more information, visit firstthings.org or call 423.267.5383.



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