I received a follow-up question from a male reader named “Krist”. I thought many of you could relate to his question so I asked him for permission to share my reply here. He agreed and offered for me to use his real (and uncommon) first name.
In “When Sorry Isn’t Enough, Dr. Chapman and you said how one’s willingness to apologize can be met with surprising forgiveness and reconciliation. (For example, homeless persons reconciling with their estranged parents back home). Your book says that forgiveness must be asked for but never demanded, as it is up to the other person to choose to forgive. When no matter how many times, in how many different ways or ‘languages’, with what sincerity and humility your apologies are given, the other person refuses to forgive; they refuse to make their own apologies or ask for your forgiveness. What can one do? How can one deal with that? How can unconditional love deal with meeting a brick wall?
It’s such a downer when we want to be close to someone but there is a brick wall between us. Here is what we know: offenses are inevitable. Those offenses, if repeated, create a wall between us. Apologies work to tear down the wall. Apologies open the doorway to forgiveness but forgiveness and reconciliation will not always happen.
What can you do when you have requested forgiveness but you are still in the dog house? First, if you are a praying person, I suggest that you pray for the other person and for the situation. I believe it’s our responsibility to live peaceably with everyone, insofar as it is up to us. That is, forgiveness can’t be demanded and it’s not always up to us.
Second, if you’ve tried to speak your apology with no success, you might write it down and read it to the other person. Leave the paper with them so they can consider and re-read your apology. If you are willing to take suggestions, ask them what they might like for you to add to your apology.
You asked about what to do if they also need to apologize to you but they are refusing to do so. In that case, you could try a third option: loving confrontation. However, this is unlikely to go well if they are also mad at you. That leaves you with a fourth option: simply make your apology without any demand of an apology in return. Be sure that you are willing to give your apology even if they never reciprocate it. Simply apologize for your part in the problem. If you don’t think you did anything wrong, we would advise you not to apologize because you will be insincere. If that is your situation, do remain willing to listen to the other person’s side of the issue. You earn bonus points if you will restate what they say to you. What people really need is a good listening to.
To My Blog Readers:
Can you relate to his problem?
What advice might you offer?
New! Leave a comment here or under any of my posts this month and/or share this post and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon gift card from me.