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Invalidation hurts and can be highly toxic to your relationship.
In one key studiy, researchers followed a sample of 135 couples for twelve years, starting before they were married, and were able to differentiate those couples who do well from those who do not, with up to 91% accuracy.* My experience of working with thousands of couples over the past seventeen years is definitely congruent with these findings.
So crucial, I believe, that in our Marriage Renewal Retreats, we spend an entire session and several exercises on training couples in this vital skill of “empathic responding.” One question that inevitably arises is, “How can I empathize with my spouse when I don’t agree with her?
” My answer is that validating your spouse doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with your spouse with regards to his or her perceptions and feelings.
You need thicker skin.” —————————————————– Or invalidation might resemble remarks like these: “You’re overreacting.” “That’s nothing to cry about.” “You’re upset for no reason.” “You need to buck up and stop being a drama queen.” “Don’t worry.” “Don’t be upset.” “Stop complaining.” “Don’t be so sensitive.” “Get over it,” etc, etc.
Sometimes invalidation can be overt, such as when one partner (or both) berates or belittles the other person’s feelings.
Validation can de-escalate a situation because you’ve avoided the fight and acknowledged the other person’s experience.