Your relationship with your partner must be an equal partnership; one that mutually supports each other in their dreams and visions of what is best for one another. Make it a point to let your partner know that you value their opinions, ideas and especially their feelings.
Invalidation can be seen in different ways but often it is given as a subtle put-down. “Your feelings aren’t important” or “Your feelings don’t make sense,” or “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Invalidation can be a way to say, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” “Your feelings aren’t important” or “Your feelings don’t make sense.” Your partner’s feelings are “their” feelings. At that moment in time it is their choice to feel that way. Feelings are neither right or wrong. For example it is okay to feel angry, frustrated, or upset just like it is okay to feel happy and sad. What matters is how we behave based on our feelings.
Validating your partner’s feelings can be very helpful to the relationship. Learning ways by which you can acknowledge your partner’s feelings can diffuse a lot of arguments and help your partner feel heard. It can show that you have empathy for their feelings even when you disagree on something.
Listen with that understanding. If you must say something say, “I understand how you feel,” “I understand how that would be frustrating for you,” or “It must have been upsetting to have that happen.” Always validate your partner’s feelings and treat them with compassion, understanding and love. We understand how they feel and recognize what makes them special. We recognize who they are “as is” and we appreciate them for it. You may want to say, “say more about that” thus encouraging them to talk and providing a safe space for your partner to talk.
Never attempt to “fix” your partner (even if you know the solution to their dilemma) or discourage them from feeling the way they feel. Not acknowledging the way people feel different from us or condemning those feelings is a way to set into motion the demise of your relationship.
You don’t have to agree with your partner in order to validate their feelings. You can simply acknowledge that you hear what they are saying and hear how they feel. You don’t need to understand your partner’s feelings. Learning how to validate your partner can help open new lines of communication and can greatly improve the communication and the relationship.
After any conversations with your partner treat them with a genuine smile and some expression of affection; perhaps a big hug!
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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