Therapy Blog for Orem, Spanish Fork & South Jordan

One Way To Fix Your Relationship Problems – Validation

relationship problems, marriage counselingOne way to fix your relationship problems is to learn how to validate each other and still have differing opinions. This can seem like oil and water to some couples, however, it can help you get closer together. 


I’ll show you how to do this through several examples based on clients that I have worked with in the past. 


What Validation Is


First, let’s talk about validation and what that means and doesn’t mean. Validation means that you do or are trying to understand your partner. It means that you hear them. When you validate your partner, you let them know that you are listening and are there for them. After your partner shares with you that they felt unimportant and lonely when you didn’t remember the death anniversary of their mother. You can validate them by saying, “I can see how me forgetting that would make you feel unimportant and lonely. That must be hard.” 


The last part of that example (‘That must be hard’) is an example of empathy – putting yourself in their shoes. That is different than validation, but it often accompanies it. 


What Validation Isn’t


Validation does not mean that you agree with their position, however, it simply means that you hear them and understand them emotionally. For example, let’s say that you did remember the death anniversary of your spouse’s mother. You were planning to talk with her about it tonight when you got off work. But she shared the above with you first. So, you might disagree with her about you forgetting. Instead of deafening yourself, however, by saying ‘I didn’t forget, I was going to talk to you tonight about it’. You can validate first. You can see that if she thought you forgot that she would feel unimportant and lonely. 


Examples of Validation


  • Your partner could say, “I am just so down lately. I don’t know if it’s the weather or what, but this hurts”. You could respond with “You do seem down. I can tell that you are having a hard time.” 
  • Your partner could say, “I don’t even know what to do about the kids. They are so hard, they don’t even listen to me. It’s like I am invisible.” You could respond with, “Yeah, they are hard. I can imagine that you do seem invisible. You work so hard to help them and sometimes they just don’t listen.”
  • Your partner could say, “Honey, when you use pornography I feel so bad about myself. I feel scared about our relationship too. I just don’t know how we will make it if you keep using it.” You could respond with “It must be hard for you emotionally when I use. I can see how you would feel scared about our relationship and feel bad about yourself.”


In these examples you are validating without correcting them, explaining their emotions away or defending yourself. You might disagree with how she is viewing your pornography as a big problem that could end your relationship when you have been doing so much better. This isn’t what is talked about, though, when you are validating. Your spouse needs space to feel their emotions and this is how to give it to them. Make it emotionally safe. 


Both seeing how your spouse can feel a certain way and also disagreeing with what they did or how they did it can coexist.  There is a difference between feeling and thinking – be careful to get this right.


Going To Marriage Counseling Can Help


Try meeting with a good couples therapist who can help you with your relationship problems. They can teach you how to validate appropriately. Validating doesn’t mean agreeing with their position, but rather acknowledging their emotional experience. 


Schedule and appointment with a marriage counselor to improve your marriage. 


We have counseling centers for relationship problems in South Jordan, Orem, Spanish Fork and American Fork. 


Written by Triston Morgan, PhD

Utah Therapy


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