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Couples Counseling: Validation
Couples Counseling: Validation 101
Validation is a buzzword in the world of couples counseling. You have probably heard friends talk about how they want more validation from their spouse. Or maybe that’s what you are looking for in your own marriage. Validation is an important part ofeffective communication for couples, and it can also be a challenge to know what you can do to give (and receive) validation in your relationship. (Related Article: Common Marriage Problems- What To Do).
So how can you encourage positive validation in your relationship? Today, you will learn about why validation is important, and what you can do to find and give more validation in your marriage.
Listen and Validate
You and your partner can work all day every day to improve how you each individually deliver information and communicate. But, if you aren’t also working to be a better listener, then improving communication skills won’t matter. (Related Article: How to Communicate Effectively).
But how can you be a good listener? John Gottman, a marriage and relationship researcher, said that, to be a good listener, “understanding must precede advice”. (Source). Placing your full attention on your partner while they are talking is just the first step. Effective listening means you listen to understand, not just to hear. This means to also avoid thinking of your own insights and opinions while your partner is speaking and expressing their feelings. Instead, try to see what your partner is trying to tell you. In other words, what is the big picture? What is their message?
An Empathetic Summary
Once your partner has expressed their feelings, the best way to validate them is to find a way to repeat back what they said. Sharing a short summary of their words and how you perceive their emotions and reactions shows that you were listening intently. (Related Article: Couples Counseling- How to Fix Your Marriage Problems).
That’s great and all, but what do you do if you don’t actually agree with your partner’s feelings and point of view? The great news about validation is that it is not really about validating the ideas themselves. You are really validating the fact that your partner is a person and that their experiences matter to you.
For example, you might respond to your partner by saying “It makes sense why you feel ___” or “I see why that is frustrating you”. Validation is not just agreeing with your partner and moving on. It is helping your partner see that they are safe to express their thoughts. (Related article: Marriage Counseling- Building Emotional Intimacy). And, that you will make an effort to not just hear their words, but to also understand what they are trying to say.
Validation and Couples Counseling
You might see how validation is not as simple as it may seem. For many, providing good validation is like a muscle that needs to be exercised to become stronger. If you find that you a re struggling to validate your partner, or that you don’t receive the validation you need to feel heard in your relationship, then couples counseling is for you. There, you can learn valuable communication skills and, you guessed it, practice validating your partner. Couples counseling is an opportunity that can help to improve your relationship and teach you how to better understand your partner.
Written by Lauren Adkins