The Five Languages of Apology

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Learning to apologize

Most have us have heard of the five languages of love. But have you heard of the five languages of apology also by Gary Chapman

“Learning to apologize is a life skill that will make all of your relationships more authentic,” says Dr. Gary Chapman, primary author (with Jennifer Thomas) of The Five Languages of Apology.

My story

While talking with my two grand daughters this morning about “saying sorry” I remembered this great book by Gary Chapman-  The Language of Apology.

We looked it up together and found which kind of apology we needed, to feel happy again after we have been hurt. We decided to try to remember to use these words with each other.

After some deliberation each one chose

Amber needed to hear ” I’m sorry, I was wrong or I made a mistake”
Becky just needed to hear the words “I’m sorry”
Suzanne also needed to hear the words “I’m sorry”

What are Apology and forgiveness?

I would suggest that apology is not about fixing something broken, or just about making right what has gone wrong. It is about stepping away from our mistake, and stepping back into a loving relationship.

When we apologize, we recognize our error and turn around. When we forgive, we return to a state of love. When a couple learns to apologize and to forgive, they can renew their love relationship or marriage and it grows stronger even through difficulty. And, as Dr. Chapman shares, apology is not just for love relationships. It is for parents and children, friends, and even business associates. We can all benefit by a return to healthy relationship.

What is your Language of Apology?

People apologize in different ways. But more importantly we each have a language of  apology that we need to hear to really believe the other person is truly sorry.

Here are the five forms of apology that Dr. Chapman and Ms. Thomas present in their book.

 The Five Languages of Apology:
  • “I’m sorry” expresses regret. That is, when I say I’m sorry, I am recognizing that I have hurt you or our relationship.

  • “I was wrong” or “I made a mistake” is a recognition of our own error.

  • “What can I do to make it right?” is about restitution – in some way, making up for or paying for the damage done.

  • “I’ll try not to do that again” is genuine repentance – a commit to grow, to learn, to change, and, if possible, not to make the same mistake.

  • “Will you please forgive me?” is a request that puts the situation into the other person’s hand, and recognizes their feelings and their part in the process of healing.-PairedLife

Working With the Five Languages of Apology

The Five Languages of Apology, like all of Dr. Chapman’s books, is very practical and quite detailed. Any careful reader can learn to work with the languages of apology just by reading the book.

And it helps to go to his website,, and take the assessment that will show you what one or two languages of apology work for you.

Even more importantly, you might want to find out what languages of apology make sense to your partner, teenager and family.

When hurt, it’s hard to forgive. In a marriage, we build walls of silence. To renew intimacy, we must be able to apologize and forgive.

You can strengthen your marriage or relationship by consistently using the language of apology your partner understands.

If you would like to know more about this apology language and learn how to use it to bring harmony in your family buy the book or have a browse through one of these websites. –

The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in all Your Relationships


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