Sometimes you do everything you can to prepare your heart and mind for a moment of confession and/or apology with your spouse, and end up failing miserably!
But how does this even happen?
Typically, for me, this happens in the heat of the moment and for a variety of reasons.
Consider this scenario:
I’ve prayed and processed, processed and prayed, and finally feel like I’m ready to humbly communicate my sorrow over how I’ve hurt my husband. When, all of a sudden, his emotions get triggered by the mere mention of our recent hurtful conflict.
Maybe I didn’t communicate my confession or apology in a way that my spouse appreciates, understands or feels is sincere (see here).
Worst of all, maybe “I” get triggered because of the intensity of the moment and go off the rails toward more venting and defending rather than confessing and apologizing. Then my confession can quickly spiral into another argument or tirade like the one that began the whole messy offense in the first place! Ay, yi, yi, yi, yi!
Obviously, there are many risks involved here. So, be prepared for failure, especially when you’re just starting out in unchartered territory, and/or have a very wounded marriage.
Just be committed to the task, knowing it is such an important and valuable gift to give your spouse, encouraging the healing that your marriage needs.
How do you handle a failed apology or confession?
1. Immediately and humbly admit your failed attempt to apologize to your spouse.
You might even want to ask for a “do-over.” Then make sure to seek God’s help to find that humble and sincere attitude that probably was missing the first time around. Ask Christ to give you His same attitude . . .
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
Dying to your own pride and rightness in the matter might be the best thing you’ll ever do for your mate!
2. Be committed to asking God to reveal your negative contribution to the problem.
If the confession and apology failed, there’s likely more that you need to understand and see regarding the hurt you’ve inflicted on your mate.
Sometimes God allows us to fail an apology/confession because we need further training and humbling before we can get it right.
If that seems to ring true for you, then commit to pray over your part every single day until you can apologize sincerely and humbly. Until your spouse begins to drop his/her guard.
And remember … this is the way it is for everyone when developing the ability to confess and apologize!
Besides, I have yet to meet anyone who did not need a little time to see their fault or humble their pride after a conflict. Accepting that you are human and flawed is the first order of business when mastering this important skill and task.
3. Don’t give up easily!
If you want to build a confessional culture in your marriage—one where you and your spouse are open and vulnerable—you’ll need to keep a persevering spirit in place. It won’t develop overnight or even after a few weeks or months of trying this new habit.
You’ll need to acquire a taste for the bitterness of “humble pie” before you begin to see a real change in your marriage.
I never used to be a coffee drinker because I felt like it tasted just too bitter. But, now, I LOVE it!
I’m living proof that you can acquire a taste, even a desire, for something that you once found distasteful.
Apologizing well requires acquiring a taste for the bitterness of humble pie. But the rewards that your humility will bring are sweeter than honey for your Honey!
What would you add to my list for handling a failed confession?
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