“I saw your search history on you computer!” she cries.
The man freezes. Caught again. How had he forgotten to cover that up. The shame wells in his soul. It’s humiliating every time. Why couldn’t he just stop looking? He considers apologizing, but knows that will mean little to her. She is so jaded from so many times of catching him. His promises mean nothing to her and he knows it.
No, he won’t apologize to her again. What was she snooping in his computer for? Why won’t she just trust him? Seriously, isn’t that what marriage is about, trust. His shame turns to anger. He stands and marches out the front door, fuming.
Left behind is a woman who feels so lost. So alone. Sure she was mad, but she also felt ugly and unwanted. She may not have believed an apology, but that is what she needed anyway.
Genuine apologies are few and far between. Today apologies are mostly just a way to make our social lives run smoother. The grease of the social engine. Far from being a complete repentance for a wholly unjustified sin, apologies are just the way we make nice.
Jesus did not think so lightly of apologizing.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(Mat 5:23-24 ESV)
Reconciled relationships are so important that you should postpone service to God to reconcile relationships. Notice he didn’t say, “Go and say sorry to your brother.” He said, “be reconciled to your brother.” It’s more than simply apologizing, but not less. We need to reconcile: to make things right. A key part of making things right is a real apology. What is a real apology? I’m so glad you asked.
The following is taken from Peacemaker Ministries and specifically from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Listed below are the seven A’s of an apology.
Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
This is definitely your wife, but may be your kids as well.
Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
We have all heard an apology that somehow included both the word “sorry” and yet somehow blamed us for it. “I’m sorry this hurt you. But you know if you just took better care of yourself. Maybe I wouldn’t be as tempted to look at porn.” Your sin is your fault. One Hundred Percent your fault. Sure other people can put you in tempting situations, but you and I both know that your real enemy is you. Do not blame other people for your sin and DO NOT blame the victim during your apology.
Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
A real apology will thoroughly explain the wrong done. It is not good enough to simply cover the information the other person knows, you need to apologize for the things they don’t know about. The actions and feelings they couldn’t know. They deserve to know how much you have hurt them.
Pro Tip: When you confess things they don’t know about, it hurts. But it builds trust when there is little trust available. It’s scary, but worth it.
Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
Be sincere. A fake apology is no apology at all.
Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
Will she be angry? She ought to be. Accept that consequence. Will she cry? She ought to. Accept that consequence.
Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
This is key. It is not good enough to apologize. Repentance involves a change of behavior.
Ask for forgiveness
Now, ask for forgiveness. If you have done all of the above, the natural next step is to ask for forgiveness.
Your pornography habit is harming you and your family. Those that you have hurt deserve to know and deserve an apology. This is not about whether they will accept it. It is about accepting responsibility before God and man.
The man had walk for about a mile. His anger had calmed and the guilt had reasserted itself. What was he doing? Why was he punishing her. He loved her. He walked back, more slowly, and prayed.
“God, I don’t know why I keep doing this. This hurts you and it hurts her. Help me. Forgive me. Give me the grace to apologize.”
He walks in the door. She is still on the couch, just where he had left her. The tears still stained her cheek.
“I’ve been an ass.” he said.
“I know.” she said.
“Let me tell you what happened.” he said.
“I would like that.” she said.