Anatomy of an Apology

Posted on Apr 2, 2013 by Matt Marooney No Comments


This is for everyone… Husbands, and Wives! If you’re giving your spouse an apology, try to follow the “L.O.V.E.R” format.

L

isten

O

wn the behavior (don’t argue or defend) and offer an apology

V

alidate their feelings – give them some indication that you understand how your actions made them feel

E

mbrace them if they’ll let you, encourage if they won’t or if you’re not physically together

R

epent (turn around, don’t repeat the same action), make restitution if needed

Now, beyond that, one of the first things we do when a man gets involved with this ministry is have him write an Apology Letter to his wife.  This is meant to be an initial summary of all the things he’s done to hurt her over the course of their marriage.  Typically, the first draft of the letter is all about him, which is understandable, since the man has no experience with any of this. However, in order for the letter to be healing to his wife, it has to be about HER.

Remember, this is not just a pointless exercise! This will bring healing to her heart if it comes from your heart, and is genuine! You also need to include, to the best of your ability, how you think your actions might have made her feel. You won’t get all of that right, but she needs to see an attempt. Words like “unsafe”, “insecure”, “ignored”, “worthless”… anything you can imagine she may have felt.

Here’s some guidelines:

  1. Recount what she said hurt her (this shows you were listening)
  2. Repent and apologize for the specific ways you wronged her, acknowledging how it hurt her.
  3. Offer an explanation ONLY if there’s a legitimate one (do not anticipate that she HAS to accept it right away. and if there is no good reason, then totally skip it)
  4. Offer amends for the present – as to what you can do to change the problem and make things right today.
  5. Offer the steps you need to take or are taking to re-assure her it won’t happen again in the future.
  6. Reassure her of your love, and that she is the most beautiful woman inside and out and you can’t imagine life without her, nor would you even want to.

Here’s a couple examples of good forgiveness letters that focus on the right things…

(note: All names have been changed to protect the people mentioned in these letters)

Example #1


I ask your forgiveness for not respecting you for who you are, but trying to control you and make you into someone I wanted you to be.

I ask forgiveness for not loving myself enough to be able to love you the way I should have in our marriage. I know that I was more in love with my addiction, and I was married to it, and withheld the love you deserve because of my selfishness.  I did not value you enough to overcome the addiction, and I did love it more than you because I wasn’t willing to give it up for you and die to myself for you.  I ask forgiveness for completely devaluing, dehumanizing, and not being faithful to you.

I ask your forgiveness for placing unrealistic and unloving expectations on you in our sex life. I know now, that the things I asked you to do, and the expectations I put on you were wrong and self-serving. I realize now that sex is not my #1 need. I crave a real, honest, emotional and spiritual connection with you more than anything else, just like you did. I repent of the ways I treated you, demeaned you, and used you to gratify my sexual desires. I repent for causing you to feel like an object instead of a woman, and for causing you to feel dirty, used, and taken for granted.

I ask your forgiveness for causing you to feel un-choosable and for causing you to feel like what you thought was reality, really wasn’t. I know that my addiction led you to believe lies about yourself which simply aren’t true. I repent of the ways I destroyed your woman’s heart.

I ask forgiveness for all the ways I did not lead you spiritually in our marriage. I know that you would have followed me, and wanted to follow me, but I was not leading anywhere healthy, and I ask your forgiveness for causing you to feel spiritually lost and abandoned.

I ask your forgiveness for all the lies I’ve told you, all of my dishonesty, deceit, and withholding my true feelings during our marriage. I take responsibility for destroying your trust, and I ask forgiveness for all the ways I’ve made you feel unsafe and insecure in our marriage as a result of those lies.

I ask forgiveness for the financial hardship we have suffered as a direct result of my addiction and poor choices regarding money. I lost jobs, spent money we needed for other things, and I did not fight for financial discipline that would have led to more security. I made promises to you and did not keep them. I ask forgiveness for all the ways I caused you panic, anxiety, and stress about our finances.

I ask forgiveness for not fighting for our marriage until now. You’ve felt the burden of this pain for our entire marriage, and you always chose us, I repent of my lack of willingness to fight with all my strength to overcome this addiction when I had chances to in the past.

I repent for walking away from my commitment and vows I’d made to you, and sought out my own selfish life. I failed to put hedges and boundaries in place to protect myself and our marriage. I ask forgiveness for putting you through this pain and the struggle for our marriage alone.

Please forgive me for forcing you to hold up this separation boundary, and forcing you to consider divorce. I repent of my past choices, and I ask your forgiveness for causing you to feel the weight of considering this divorce.

I ask forgiveness for betraying you and abusing your trust emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically, I have lied to you, purposefully deceived you, and made you feel completely insecure and unsafe in our marriage.

I broke my vows to you. There are no excuses, and I own that I’ve sinned against God and sinned against you.

I want to make these things right, and to walk out repentance and restitution to you for the pain and wrongs I’ve caused.


Example #2


When we got married, I made vows to you. The promises I spoke to you have gone by the wayside.

As a result, you have suffered untold sorrow and grief. Instead, your dreams for a beautiful marriage were shattered. The vows, to have and to hold, to cherish, respect, honor and forsaking all others from this day forward until death do us part have sadly in the past five years been broken along with your precious heart. You have no reason to believe me. There is no excuse for the terrible ways I have wounded and abused your heart.

Many times in our marriage you have expressed the desire to feel special, prized, and number one in my life. Instead I put everyone and everything in front of you, including our daughter, work, friends, money and worst of all myself. My pride, selfishness and immaturity minimized your sense of worth and value, your right to be special, to be honored and always being first place. Sweetheart, your heartache in this, has finally penetrated my heart. The anguish you felt over being second best matters to me. You were and are right in expressing your heart over being invalidated. I didn’t show you that you’re the single most important person in the world to me, and for that I’m deeply sorry.

I didn’t show you the respect and honor due to the daughter of the King. I disrespected you with our children with condescending looks, short answers, and raising my voice. I lied to you. I have wounded your heart, caused you to doubt your sanity and broken your trust.

You have graciously given many opportunities to be an example as a father to our children and you have only dealt with my failure in this regard. Our children were abused and rejected which in turn caused you to be abused. I put you in the middle and made you look like the bad guy which is wrong and destructive to our children and family.

You never had the comfort of having a united and loving front to raise them and to be assured our children are completely loved. Making you chose our girls or me not only led to decimating your heart but theirs also. I alone am responsible for the damage I have caused you and them in their upbringing.

This fault is all mine.

There are so many areas and places and things that my sins and inaction have damaged that I couldn’t hope to list them all. My choices have caused all these and now I want to repent…

– For just listening to my type of music when I know that your heart wants something else
– For not going to where you or the girls wanted to eat just to prove a point.

– For not showing the affection you longed for
– For shutting down and ignoring you and the girls
– For treating you like I did in the beginning of our relationship by dating you and another woman. That was so wrong and hurtful to you

– For cheating on you and not allowing us to talk about it to heal your heart
– For telling you when you became pregnant with our daughter that I would take her from you.
– For being cruel to your family, when they just wanted to get to know me.

– For going out all the time and not letting you have a voice in that
– For the arrogance that I displayed toward you by making you feel not good enough. When I know you are enough.
– For saying that when our daughter turns 18 that I would leave you

– For telling you that I wanted another baby but not with you. That was not true and wrong to say
– For having our daughter come with us on our anniversary. You were wanting closeness and I just pushed you father away

– For shutting down when you wanted to make amends so often. you were just telling me you wanted me and I rejected you
– For the financial abuse. Putting things in your name and just expecting you to take care of it like you were my mother. You’re not my mother, your my wife, I am so sorry.

– For setting impossible goals as a wife that no wife could live up to and getting mad when you couldn’t.
– For not following through on anything and just moving on to another goal which always threw you off balance

– For treating others better than you because I cared how they felt not how you did
– For driving us into financial disaster because of my selfishness and narcissistic attitude and not letting you to minister wisdom to me

– For not bonding with you sexually as you would like and making it about me and not the intimacy that you longed for
– For not connecting with you by not listening to you about your feelings, needs, or what you needed in our relationship. As well as your dreams and past issues.

– For not putting your needs first and allowing everyone to come before you
– For yelling at your kids when we went on vacation
– For not helping to pay for the groceries for our family

– For putting our daughter before you and your children
– For expecting you to take care of me as if I were your child
– For not being consistent in my behavior in the home and outside the home
– For spending more time working on my body than working on our marriage, that must have made you feel less important, not wanted and not valued. I am truly sorry

– For getting so angered when you did not return movies on time
– For not wearing my wedding ring.
– For not appreciating the gifts that you would give me and telling you that I didn’t like them. I’m sorry!

– For putting you down in front of others
– For loving money more than you
– For chasing the more and not chasing the more you wanted to give to me.
– For not asking you to marry me the proper way. I am so sorry.

– For not stepping up to be Christ like in our family when you wanted that so much

Sweetheart, I am truly sorry for the 5 years of pain, fear and anxiety I have given you. You are not needy, you are only asking for what any normal and healthy adult female asks for. You are not crazy; your desires are God given. I was making you crazy. You are not a complainer, you are only expecting me to be the man I promised to be and you are right in demanding that I do so. All you have ever wanted was for me to love you, you only and you forever. For the rest of our lives I commit to making these things right and to loving you as Christ loved the church and laid down his life for her. I commit to treating you with kindness, compassion, understanding, respect, tenderness, gentleness, faithfulness and honesty as Christ himself does.

I Love You and Will Always Love You!


Example #3


PammySue,

Another year has passed since a letter was written to you asking for your forgiveness and another year where all the ways your husband failed you have been revealed. Where you failed to receive honor and treatment with understanding, where you were failed to receive love, and where you received harsh treatment by your husband. This is being revealed daily and forgiveness is not deserved for failing you, our children, and our marriage but you deserve an apology.

You were promised a husband who would meet your needs. You need a husband who would be your source of life and strength. You need a man who would listen to your heart, meet the needs you were begging for, and protect you. That isn’t what you got.

You were not asked to be my wife when we first discovered we were pregnant with Timo. You have felt unwanted or not good enough of a woman for me. You must have felt as if I thought you were good enough to have sex with, but not good enough to be my wife. You were almost forced to divorce Mike, because the father of your child did not want you to be legally married to another man when you gave birth to his son; however you were not asked to become a wife until almost a year later. You had to worry if you son would grow up with a father instead of the security that you, Kyle, Cain, and Timo would be taken care of. You felt an incredible amount of rejection and feared that another man in your life would abandon you.

Cain was never adopted. Kyle had his father, Timo had his, and yet Cain had to grow up without the security of having a father of his own. Cain called me Dad, and to me he was my son. I love Cain just as much as if we shared the same blood; he maynot have felt that because I never made it legal and gave him my name. The pain in his heart caused pain in your heart. Neither one of you deserved to feel that pain.

When you were asked to be my wife, you said yes. You had dreams for our life together and our family. You were promised that the man you married would make all of those dreams come true. You were promised to be treated like a queen. You were promised that all your thoughts, desires, feelings, and cares would be shared and would be just as important to your husband. You dreamed of a wonderful marriage and of a husband who would be the man of your dreams. Your knight in shining armor failed to meet your dreams. I am sorry for failing to fulfill your dreams.
Over and over you begged the man you married for attention, you were neglected the attention you needed. Your heart was hungering to be pursued just like before we were married. You need to feel desired and wanted. You need to feel cherished and adored. You begged for the romance to return like it was before you promised your hand in marriage. This should have been eagerly given to you but you had to ask for it. You should have been responding to being pursued, instead you had to initiate. You felt less loved and you did not feel special. You asked yourself, “Why am I no longer a priority to my husband?” In your heart you long to feel that your husband could not wait to see you again, that you are always first in his mind, and he is constantly trying to win your heart over and over again, just like before you were married.

You did not receive enough affection. You are a very beautiful, warm loving person. You need to feel that you are cherished by your husband. You need to know how proud he is to have you as a wife. You need to know that you will always be protected and taken care of by your husband. These were needs you failed to receive. You need to feel appreciated; you need reassurance that your husband needs an emotional connection with you. You need to hear more than just the words that I love you. You wanted to be touched in loving non sexual ways. You need to feel good and cared for. You wanted a stronger bond with your husband; you need your husband to show his love, closeness, and affection.

The use of pornography and the selfish act of self-gratification was another major source of pain in your heart. You need to know that you are the most attractive woman to your husband. You need to know that you are the only woman of your husband’s desires. You need to feel loved. This was a betrayal to you. Not thinking of you and the effect it had on your heart was disrespectful and humiliating for you. You were cheated out of intimacy and sexual emotions. You need your husband to bond with you and not selfishly bonding with himself. Sharing yourself with your husband was a precious gift to be cherished and it was made to seem like it wasn’t good enough. This was infidelity in our marriage and this was a hurt you did not deserve. I am sorry

You wanted us to spend quality time together. Doing things together was important to you. You wanted help from your husband, you did not need it but you wanted it. Simple tasks like working on the pond, clipping the dogs’ nails, putting up Christmas lights and working in the yard were tasks that you wanted to do together. Your husband failed to give you this help and quality time and instead made excuses to sit on the couch and veg. You felt a lack of togetherness in our marriage. You wanted to know that your husband wanted to give you his full attention. You wanted your husband’s undivided attention; you did not
deserve to compete for the attention of your husband with the television, or the computer.

You were made to feel irresponsible with money. You were treated like a child and were given an allowance. You felt controlled and restricted. Emotionally your heart was being abused. You were made to feel like you could not be trusted with the same money you worked so hard to make. The truth is that your husband was a poor financial planner and should have managed our money better. You and the boys missed out on family vacations, you did not get many dates with your husband, and you had to feel the stress and worry of how the bills would get paid. Just to meet basic household needs should not have been a struggle. You had to feel stress, worry, and fear every month of whether or not we would continue to have a home to live in.

You worked so hard to advance in your career and you need to feel validated for your accomplishments. You need to feel how proud and thankful your husband was of you. Instead you were made to feel guilty. When you were called into work, did work from home, or got a phone call from work at night, you were made to feel that you were putting your job before your family, and the reality was that you were working hard for your family. You need to feel validated for all the success you achieved and overcoming your past and putting it all behind you. Your husband, who should have been cheering you on and been your support pouted like a little boy who did not get enough attention from mommy. You deserve admiration from your husband for your ambition in your career. You feel that because of your husband’s insecurities you had to downplay your achievements.

You were made to bear the responsibilities of most of the household decisions. This made you feel as if you were to blame if things did not go well. You need a man who is strong and not passive. You need a man who could shoulder most of the responsibility and communicate with you to make decisions together. You need a man who is confident and secure. You need a man who is not afraid to fail, who is not weak, selfish and immature. You were not able to feel safe and protected.

You did not have a husband who was fully committed to his family. Many times you feel the burden of taking on the role of mother and father. The boys should have a father bonding with them. Their father should be doing things with them such as camping trips, sporting events, scouting functions, etc. In addition to being a mom you had to take on the responsibilities of a dad too. You had to take on the responsibilities of helping to build racecars for scouts, chaperoning events, taking them to basketball games, and church functions. You need the security of knowing that the boys have a father who would be involved in their lives. A father who would read to the boys before bed, have family
meetings, attend sporting events, play games with the family, or go out for walks or bike riding with his sons. You did not have assurance that your husband would lead his family with love instead of with anger. You did not have the safety of a man who would teach his sons responsibility without raising his voice. You did not have the comfort of having a fully committed man to his family.

You feel the uncertainty of whether you were deserving enough of your husband. It is your husband who is undeserving of you. You are a blessing and a gift I do not deserve. Your outgoingness, sense of humor, intelligence and beauty (inside and out) is what attracts me to you. You are all the things I want to be. People are drawn to you, with good reason. I was so sure that once you realized what a truly wonderful person you are, you would ask yourself “Why am I with this guy”. I let everyone convince you how lucky you were to have your husband. You husband was the lucky man all along. You knew the truth. You need your husband to stand up for you and be honest about what a fantastic woman you are. You need a husband who could be honest about who he is and how lucky he is to have such a blessing of a wife.

Everyone was fooled into believing your husband was a great guy. You were manipulated into believing that there was no reason for your unhappiness. You felt there must be something wrong with you, like a brain tumor for not being happy. You head was manipulated, but you heart recognized the truth. Trying to figure out the truth was frustrating for you. Your heart knew the real man you were married to, while everyone else kept telling you that you were married to a great guy.

You had a possessive and co-dependent husband. You need to go out and do things with other people on your own. You need independence sometimes. You were made to feel guilty, when your immature husband pouted like a little boy if he could not go with mommy. You had to endure excuses as to why you could not go or why you should not go, (money, time, family, etc). You had interests that you wanted to pursue; you need a man who could share in these interests with you. You felt as if your interests were not important or silly. You want a man who not only shares interests with you but has his own as well. You felt as if you were responsible for my happiness. This was a heavy burden you had to carry, one that you never deserved to have been put upon you.

There have been so many games and manipulation put on you, especially over the past 2 years. You need me to be strong for you and instead I behaved like a fool. Moving out, selling the house, and filing for divorce were all forms of foolish manipulation and games that the weak pathetic man you married played to force you back to me. This action made you
feel controlled and did not draw you closer to me but only pushed you closer to Dan. This was your final cry out to me to become the husband you always needed me to be. You were just seeking what you need and what you should have been receiving from me. You were seeking what was promised to you on the day we married. The love, attention, being pursued, and feeling cherished, are all things you deserve, and I am sorry I did not give them to you. I am sorry you need to look for what you so richly deserve elsewhere.

The suicide attempt was the most foolish and selfish acts of manipulation of them all. That was the ultimate act of selfishness. I am so so sorry for what I almost did to you and the boys who I love so much. It was selfish and a failure to think of the pain I would have caused you and the boys, and what hurts they would carry for the rest of their lives. Lists could be made of all the selfish acts I committed, but none as bad as that. I am truly sorry.

There are no words I can even think of to describe the remorse I feel for the email I sent to Dan and copied you in on. Things were said in that email about you that were hurtful, and that word is not even strong enough to describe the contents of that email. I cannot conjure the right words to say how selfish, inconsiderate, mean, ugly, terrible horrible things which were put in that email. There was so much damage to your heart already, and that was the final blow. Whatever small part of your heart was left that I had not destroyed, that email probably finished the job. I am so sorry to hurt you. You deserve to know that your husband will fight for your heart and your marriage and family. This letter was damaging to you, and the validation you received was that your husband would not fight for your heart, but continues to damage it. Your heart is fragile and precious. It deserves to be cherished and adored by your husband, not trashed and stomped upon.

Months of writing can go by with specific ways your heart has been damaged over the years. I am repentant of failing you as a husband. For all the times I was not a positive influence to you. For all the times I did not control my temper. For all the times I broke your confidence. For all the times I did not admit when I was wrong. For not always being kind and compassionate to you. For all the times I was not truthful and honest. For not always being generous. For not always being a man of integrity. For not always being protective of you and your feelings. For not being the man you needed me to be. Your husband should have been your source of life and strength. You were failed and I am truly remorseful.

You did not feel like you were first in the life of your husband, you did not feel that your needs were a priority to your husband. You deserve a husband who will give everything to meet the needs of his wife. You need to feel that the man you gave your life to will put your needs above his own. You need a man who will pursue you with passion and show

excitement to be with you. You need your husband to communicate how important you are to him in not just words but actions. You need a husband who will always study your heart. Who will always talk to his wife about her fears and feelings. Get to know your thoughts and reactions to meet your deepest needs. You need to know that you are always first in the mind and heart of your husband, even when the business of life tries to compete.

You deserve praise and recognition for everything you do for the marriage and family. You need a husband who is sensitive to the needs of your heart. You deserve praise and admiration from the man who promised it to you. You need the assurance that the man you vowed your life to will invest all of his time and effort into your life and will lay down his life for you. You deserve praise and recognition for everything you do.

You deserve the strength and leadership from your husband and the father of your children. You deserve to be praised by your life mate. You need to know that your opinion matters and is hugely respected.

Pam, I never really understood the depth of the pain I put you through. You are an amazing woman and I am so grateful for our marriage and the life we shared together. You have always been a blessing to me; I should have been a blessing to you as well. Things are happening in my life that is exposing me to what a proper husband and father look like. Through these teachings I am seeing the pain and suffering I created in your life.I am so sorry to have caused you so much pain.

I Love You


It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway… please don’t COPY these letters exactly when you write one to your wife!!

We’re here to help, so please, please, please don’t send the letter to your wife before sending to us first!

— David & Matt

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