Apology: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How

Next to “I love you,” I’m sorry” must be two of the hardest words in our vocabulary to say.

From a young age, few of us are eager to utter those words that can so quickly change the course of a conversation, keep a relationship in tact, or salvage a marriage that is in desperate need.

In case you don’t know when to say you’re sorry, follow these guidelines from one of my favorite books: Lists to Live by for Every Married Couple.

12 Times to Say “I’m Sorry” 

  • When you are rude
  • When you are wrong
  • When you are defensive
  • When you have been impatient
  • When you have been negative
  • When you have been hurtful
  • When you have been insensitive
  • When you have been forgetful
  •  When you are confused or confusing
  • When you have neglected, ignored, or overlooked something important to the other person
  • When you have damaged, misused, or impaired something that is not yours (even if it was an accident)
  • When you have not said “I’m sorry” as sincerey or as quickly as the situation warranted

And I would add one more: When there is a rift in your relationship for which you are even partly to blame (which, quite frankly, is true in most conflicts with another person, isn’t it?).

Being the first one to say “I’m sorry” often has benefits that far outweigh your sense of pride.

We’ll get into some of the other facets of apology in later posts, but for now if you focus on being the one to say “I’m sorry” when the situation warrants, where and how to do it won’t be quite as important as when and why.

Oh yeah, when should you apologize? As soon as you can!

Yours for the celebration of marriage,


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