Intentional validation in marriage is the act of validating your spouse’s feelings and expressions intentionally to ensure they feel like their feelings are valid. Have you ever felt like your husband or wife wasn’t really “getting” what you were trying to say? Unfortunately, many of us have experienced this feeling. In the rush of day-today life it’s easy for us to become disconnected from one another and lose the spark that once shined brightly.

Expressing intentional empathy is also part of the validation process, because when we share their emotions and feelings it’s a truly beautiful experience. In addition to sharing someone’s emotions and feelings it’s also important to express your understanding and acceptance of what they feel is causing them to experience these feelings.

Improving Intentional Empathy & Validation in Your Marriage

When you communicate effectively and intentionally you strengthen your emotional connection and bond. A deeper emotional connection leads to more intimacy and relationship satisfaction overall. We compiled a list of resources, exercises, and downloadable worksheets to help you and your spouse improve empathic validation.

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Empathically Validating One Another

Communication is not a one-way street, and effective communication cannot happen when one party does not empathically validate one another. When a person doesn’t feel validated, the communication cannot continue because one party does not feel they have been heard. That’s when it’s time to use Imago dialogue exercises like mirroring.

Characteristics of Empathy

There are certain characteristics that people express when communicating empathically.

  • The ability to see another person’s perspective
  • Communicating without judgment
  • Recognizing and validating a person’s emotions
  • Communicating effectively and openly

It’s important to recognize the characteristics of empathic validation as well as red flags indicating a lack of it. When you communicate with your spouse and do not feel validated or that your partner is expressing empathy for your feelings (or vice versa) it’s important to stop the unproductive conversation. Depending on your moods you may decide to continue with the conversation using the imago dialogue technique or picking it up later when you have had time to calm down.

It is never a good idea to attempt a conversation when you are upset because the likelihood of either spouse having an emotional outburst they later regret is very likely.

The Importance of Empathy & Validation for a Healthy Relationship

Validation vs. Agreement

Validation in communication does not mean you agree with what someone feels, it’s reassuring them that you understand how they feel and accept it as valid. Validation is the process of expressing your acceptance of someone’s feelings as real and meaningful even when you don’t agree with why they think they feel this way. Feelings are experience, they are not fabricated (at least not in a healthy relationship).

If your partner expresses their concern about your eating habits for example, you may not agree but it’s important that you hear them out and show them that you recognize and accept their feelings.

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