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Learning Your Apology Language Can Save Your Relationship

Repair and restore your love with the five apology languages.

Love & Relationships

After a disagreement, have you ever apologized to your partner, only to realize that things weren't completely resolved? It's probably because you were speaking a different language – a different apology language, that is.

Many of us are very familiar with The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, written by Dr. Gary Chapman, a popular relationship staple that categorizes the various ways couples love and communicate with each other (which includes words of affirmation, physical touch, gift giving, acts of service, and quality time).

In The Five Languages of Apology (the updated version is called When Sorry Isn't Enough), written by Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, we learn that expressing concern and regret in any relationship is just as important as demonstrating love and affection.

"It's important to learn your apology language, not only for the sake of yourself and having a deeper understanding of what you need," said Kiaundra Jackson, licensed family and marriage therapist and resident therapist on OWN's new hit show, Love Goals. "But it's also imperative to learn your partner's apology language too."

Relationships are all about reciprocity and having both parties work to make sure that their relationship is in a healthy spot, Jackson said. When you learn your partner's apology language, you can cut down on any excess drama that may happen when someone feels misunderstood, unloved or neglected.

What are the Five Apology Languages?

The five apology languages are expressing regret, accepting responsibility, making restitution, genuinely repenting, and requesting forgiveness. In order to explore each of these apology languages more in depth, keep reading for the meaning and an example of what each apology language looks like.

Check them out below!

1. Expressing Regret Apology Language:

The key to this apology language to address the emotional damage that someone has experienced due to a wrongdoing. Expressing regret and remorse is an essential part of any apology – especially when feelings have been hurt. "It's important to apologize when things go wrong," Jackson said. "It puts you in a place where you can comprehend what your partner is saying and can help you understand how to avoid certain situations moving forward."

An example of this apology language is, "I'm sorry I hurt you."

2. Accepting Responsibility Apology Language:

This apology language requires an admission of responsibility from the person who committed the offense. "I think this is a fundamental way to receive an apology," Jackson said. "It's important for your partner to take responsibility, because it shows a deep level of self-awareness and the work that they've done within themselves."

An example of this apology language is, "I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier. I was wrong."

3. Making Restitution Apology Language:

Sometimes expressing regret and taking responsibility isn't enough – in some instances, partners might prefer to receive restitution. "For someone whose apology language is making restitution, their partner would have to start with offering some sort of make-up process," Jackson said. The make-up process should directly correlate with your partner's love language – for example, if their love language is acts of service, one way that you could express love and restitution, is to do something kind or mindful for your partner.

An example of this apology language is, "What can I do to make this up to you?"

4. Genuinely Repenting Apology Language:

Depending on the severity of the transgression, a sincere apology requires that the person verbalizes their commitment to avoiding repeated behavior. Not only does this apology language demand a genuine "I'm sorry", but it also includes a commitment to change. "It's important to say that you're going to change your behavior in a tangible way," Jackson said. "And ultimately, you can't just say it, you have to do it."

True repentance takes an extra step towards change, and an example of this apology language is, "I know what I did was wrong, and I won't do it again."

5. Requesting Forgiveness Apology Language: 

Sometimes, people want to hear their partners ask for forgiveness and while this can be the most difficult element of an apology, for many people, it can also be the most significant. While the wrongdoer is responsible for apologizing, the power of forgiveness ultimately lays in the hands of the offended. Before accepting a partner's apology, however, Jackson recommends taking a moment to process all of the circumstances. "We know that forgiveness is an internal job," she said. "When forgiveness is requested too early and the person hasn't thought about what they need to forgive the other person for and how they're going to make that amendment within themselves, it can turn out to be a less-than-ideal situation."

Now that you're fluent in all of the languages of atonement, which one best fits your style? Click here to find out!

Featured image via Shutterstock

Originally published on March 23, 2020.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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