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I’ve recently discovered that the author of the Five Love Languages has written a book called The Five Languages of Apology. If you’re familiar with the love languages, you know how helpful it is to understand that we all appreciate different types of communication differently. It’s only natural that would bleed into how we receive apologies. Each person needs something different in order to feel like an apology is sincere and truly offers healing. For example, if your love language is acts of service, you might be more likely to really feel like the apology is real if it’s accompanied by some act of kindness to show sincerity; if you are a “words of appreciation” person, you’ll need an apology with more explanation, humble ownership, expression of remorse and words empathizing with your feelings. “Gifts” people might appreciate flowers, or chocolate — you get the idea! Each love language affects how we receive apologies, and it’s essential for our partner to understand that — and for us to understand our partner. Otherwise, we risk getting stuck in a vicious cycle of ineffective apologies and festering bitterness.

The author’s website even has a quiz to help you discover your own apology language; take it here, and make sure your partner does, too.

The holidays are wonderful, but they can be stressful, and stress can lead to more and more conflict in our intimate relationships. Take some preventative measures and know how you’re going to say sorry when you (inevitably) need to. That’s not cynicism; that’s setting yourself and your relationship up for success!