How many times have you come home from a stressful day of work or experienced a stressful situation throughout the day and come home to tell your partner how you felt and they responded by saying, “I am sorry, that stinks, or you should have done this instead of that.”
In these moments, you likely did not feel supported by your spouse and instead felt alone or judged. Many couples do not effectively show emotional validation. They do not understand how to validate someone’s feelings. Due to the limited emotional validation each partner receives within a marriage or couple, there is increased frustration and hatred.
What is emotional validation and why is it important?
What is emotional validation?
Many people have the wrong understanding when it comes to emotional validation. Instead of learning how to show empathy and start validating feelings, we end up invalidating them.
Validating emotions doesn’t just mean rephrasing what your partner is saying but instead showing an understanding through your words, actions, and gestures. What is emotional validation in relationships? Emotional validation is when one partner understands and accepts the other partner’s emotional experience. Validating feelings in a relationship revolves around acceptance, respect, understanding, empathy, and genuine care for your partner. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to start validating feelings.
Why is emotional validation important for couples in a relationship?
When a person receives emotional validation within the dynamic of a marriage, they feel supported and that their feelings are genuine and valued. The individual experiencing an emotionally distressing situation feels a sense of certainty in their responses, which leads to feeling emotionally stronger when they receive emotional validation. On the contrary, when one does not receive emotional validation, they may feel rejected, ignored, or judged by their partner. A sense of rejection from one’s partner can lead to an increase in fights or lead to further feeling disconnected and alone. This is why validation is essential in any relationship.
Five Signs of Emotional Validation
When you feel validated, you will feel heard and loved. It opens doors for self-compassion and self-love and gives your relationship a beautiful sense of understanding. What would happen to a relationship if the couple knew how to validate someone’s feelings? Here are signs that you and your partner share emotional validation in your relationships.
1. You are not afraid to share your feelings
We all feel afraid, drained, sad, and even depressed. When we feel alone or invalidated, our invisible wounds become worse. Therefore, emotional validation in relationships is vital.
It gives us a haven to let out our feelings and not worry about being judged. Feeling accepted and loved, even with all your not-so-attractive traits is a big deal to anyone.
2. You gain strength
Validation definition includes being heard and being accepted. Once you have someone who can do this for you, you will feel stronger. With all the stress, challenges, and doubts in life, validation from your partner is one great way for us to regain self-compassion, self-confidence, and even self-love.
3. You feel better
One sign you are receiving emotional validation is when you feel better and feel rejuvenated. Even if you are physically, mentally, and emotionally tired, having someone who knows how to validate your feelings will somehow lift some of those burdens.
4. You feel loved
Of course, wouldn’t we feel lucky and blessed to have a partner who knows how to validate our feelings? If you have an experience with someone who invalidates you, you will understand the difference and the importance of emotional validation. We can show love in many forms, and emotional validation of your partner is one way to let them know you love them.
5. You have a strong support system
No matter how resilient we are, we all need a strong support system. When you are emotionally validated, then your mental health will improve. Can you imagine a couple who practices validation psychology techniques? They would be happier, more resilient, and have deeper connections and communication. Who wouldn’t want to experience this?
How to practice emotional validation as a couple
To validate your partner effectively emotionally, here are simple steps you can follow. Using these, you can ensure that your relationship is heading in a healthier direction.
1. Stop what you are doing and listen
Acknowledging feelings starts when you listen. Remember that you won’t be able to genuinely validate your partner’s emotions if you do not give your full attention to them. This means you need to stop looking at your phone, turn off the television and make sure you face your partner.
Doing these shows your partner that you are eager to listen and you’re not just doing it to get it over with. Your partner will feel if you are sincere or not. Besides, when you share your feelings, you’d also want your partner’s full attention.
2. Understand your partner’s emotions
Before you tell your partner you understand where they are coming from, you need to genuinely feel it. Once your partner is ready to unburden their heart, it’s just right for you to listen empathically to what this person is going through.
Remember that actively listening and understanding go hand in hand. If you can picture the scenario and try to vibe the emotion of the situation, then you will understand the situation.
Many couples end up invalidating their partners’ feelings because they think they already know the situation. Then, they rush to offer advice.
3. Understand what contributed to their feelings
Learning to validate emotions will also be based on understanding your partner’s situation. What contributed to their feelings? You will understand the situation’s history and ensure that even if the story is long, you can maintain your interest. It’s a good sign if you can relate to the story, but avoid trying to stop them mid-story to share your own experience. Remember that this isn’t about you but the person talking to you. Nodding is also an example that you are following the story and you’re listening.
4. Practice unconditional positive regard
When responding to their distressing situations, work to show unconditional positive regard.
But, you may ask, what is unconditional positive regard? Unconditional positive regard is when you can offer empathy, support and accept that person or the situation, regardless of the situation. Is this possible? What if you disagree with the situation? This happens, and often, we are tempted to invalidate their beliefs and feelings. When you practice unconditional positive regard, you allow yourself to have a broad understanding of the things beyond your beliefs and be able to emphasize instead of judging.
5. Demonstrate genuine understanding
Being able to show genuine understanding is an example of emotional validation. Can you imagine a person pouring their entire self to you, showing you their weakness and what they are thinking? It’s challenging to open up only to experience invalidation. So let us be mindful when our partners are opening up. Genuine concern and understanding, no matter the situation, allows them to realize that they are entitled to their feelings and don’t have to hide them.
6. Ask follow-up questions
There will be times when your partner would pause or accidentally omit details. This happens when they are too emotional. Tell your partner to elaborate on their story when you have the opportunity. You can ask clarifying questions that will give more detail on the scenario.
This would also help you understand the situation more. It’s also great to show your partner that you’re really invested in their story. Have you heard of mirroring statements? It’s when you can repeat your partner’s words back to them using your own set of words, much like rephrasing their statements. This will show them you truly understand everything they are saying. It’s one of the best emotional validation examples.
7. Avoid blaming your partner
Validating feelings can turn into invalidation real quick. That’s why it’s best not to exaggerate emotions or be quick to blame your partner. Even if your intentions are good, be careful with how you react. Remember that this person in front of you needs you to understand and listen.
Say your partner is talking about a misunderstanding at work that escalated because she lost self-control over the situation. “It would have been better if you remained calm, right?”
Even if your tone of voice is caring, the statement invalidates your partner’s emotions and situation. Also, adjust your energy level in sync with their mood and response. For example, curb unnecessary enthusiasm when sharing a personally distressing narrative. Refrain from giving unsolicited advice and watch the tone of your voice.
8. Learn how to use validating statements
It’s normal to worry about saying the wrong things, that’s why it’s also important to know the different emotional validation phrases that you can use.
We are going to get through this.
It makes sense that you feel…
I believe in you.
Your emotions make sense.
What you are thinking/feeling is normal.
I would feel the same way.
It sounds like you are feeling ____.
You must feel devastated
We can talk about this for as long as you need.
I value your ability to…
Listening to these phrases will make anyone feel better instantly. Sometimes, all you need is someone to emotionally validate what you’re feeling and remind you that you are not alone.
9. Offer help or encouragement
This will depend on the situation. Before offering your partner feedback, advice, or encouragement, analyze the situation first. Some people will let you know when they are ready. Sometimes, just being there to listen is the best help. In any event that your partner does need your help, make sure you have given emotional validation first. This will set a positive mood and remember not to use negative words. It’s also better not to use words that promise or give false hopes. What do we mean by this? Sometimes, to support our partner, we say, “I will never leave you,” or other statements that are not possible. We can’t always be there for them.
10. Re-validate your partner’s feelings
Emotional validation in relationships also includes re-validation. What is this? It’s always nice to remind your partner that you understand them. It’s a way for you to remind them you still think their feelings are valid. It’s a way to reiterate your concern, understanding, and kindness towards your partner’s emotions. Overall, you’re reminding this person that you understand without judgment. This would uplift anyone who is undergoing trials. It gives them strength and the mindset that they are strong. Lending a bit of your time and understanding can make an enormous difference in a person’s mental health.
Happy partner, happy life
Learning about emotional validation may be new to some, but learning its value and how it affects each of us makes a huge difference. All of us will experience a situation where we need to know that our feelings are validated and that someone we love and care for understands us.
Validating feelings in a relationship makes your partner feel cared for. When you invalidate your partner, it makes them feel guilty or wrong for having those feelings and sharing them with you. This can seriously sabotage your relationship with your partner. Not just that, this worsens their negative emotions and can weaken their mental health. In any healthy relationship, it’s important to validate your partner emotionally and enjoy a sense of solidarity and fulfillment in your relationship. Remember, you are on the same team! Be there and offer your support.