I was raised in an abusive family situation and now my trust is damaged. When my husband apologizes, I have a very hard time believing that he actually has remorse. How can I train myself to see and believe the remorse that is displayed while the apology is said?

Remorse is an inner sorrow for unjust actions while repentance is the outward expression, such as an apology, of that inner sorrow. In the 1970’s the psychiatrist R.C. Hunter stated, and I think he is correct, that most of us, even those who are not trained as mental health professionals, can identify false forms of forgiveness. There is what he called a certain smug-like quality to insincere forgiving or seeking forgiveness. Therefore, are you getting a sense of anything “smug” in his response of apology to you? Look into his eyes. Are those eyes trying to hide something or is there an openness to you, to your hurt? As another quality in your husband that might help you, has he shown an interest in what I call recompense or making it right again for you? The 3 Rs of remorse (genuine inner sorrow seen in his eyes), repentance (an apology that flows from the genuine inner sorrow) and recompense (truly trying to right the wrong) may be a more full indicator for you of your husband’s genuine attempt at the fourth R: reconciliation with you.

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