Kenadee Moss, a freshman studying public health, walked toward her sister’s bedroom door. Her throat was dry and her hands shook with nervousness. She felt a heavy feeling and was racked with guilt. She needed to apologize. She inched closer to her sister’s bedroom door and gave three subtle knocks.

After a few moments, Kenadee apologized and was forgiven by her sister.

Apologizing may not always make us feel rosy and sure of ourselves; we are, after all, admitting our fallibility, according to Big Think. Although it may be difficult, there are substantial societal benefits achieved through apology.

“I think it takes humility and courage to apologize,” Kennadee Moss said. “Sometimes it can be scary to say sorry, for example, when you have that heavy feeling and you know an apology is needed. In the end, it usually turns out for the better once you do it.”

Trent and Haley Ricks have been married for two years and have an infant son, a little under a year old, named Grayson. Haley is a stay-at-home mom while Trent studies physical health. “If you say it’s fine and it wasn’t fine, I think it is dishonest,” Trent Ricks said.

Haley Ricks said when she and her husband were first married, it was important to learn how to apologize.

“It was beneficial to say, ‘I apologize and I am sorry for doing this,’ and for the other person to accept the apology and say, ‘I forgive you,'” Haley Ricks said.

EMILY ROSE PERKINS | Scroll Illustration

Trent Ricks said even the question, “Do you forgive me?” plays an important role. The question opens someone up and sets the stage for the other person to forgive. It is not always about the words but their intent.

“Our motivation for what we do in our family and our marriage is love,” Trent Ricks said.

Every apology needs to start with “I’m sorry” or “I apologize,” according to MindTools. These words express remorse and humility.

“Once an apology has been said, it is right to let it come in,” Haley Ricks said. “It is important to let it come in and then let it go. That is forgiveness — letting ill feelings go and dealing with it.”

Trent said he dressed his son Grayson a few days ago in his day clothes which included a small white-and-blue striped jumper and a pair of small gray socks.

Unbeknownst to Trent, the gray socks were Grayson’s least favorite socks, which he loves to constantly remove throughout the day. Haley came in and replaced Grayson’s gray socks for another pair of socks in order to prevent Grayson from removing them.

“Now, this wasn’t a big deal, but I felt like, ‘why was this not good enough?’” Trent Ricks said.

Trent Ricks said he proceeded to speak to his wife and relate his feelings.

He said Haley realized what she had done and apologized.

Haley Ricks said the follow-up of an apology is equally important.

“In this case, I didn’t know Trent was offended at my change, because he did not know Grayson commonly takes off his gray socks,” Haley Ricks said. “That is when I say, I am sorry. Next time, I will let you know.”

Haley said the difference between being single and being in a relationship is the constant validation and that next-time commitment; the restitution and continuing change.

“It’s not about the apology,” Trent Ricks said. “It’s about working toward loving each other.”