If you’re having trouble climbing into the hole with your partner, start by being curious about what they’re feeling.
Instead of saying, “You want me to be at home more during the week because if I’m not, it makes you feel like I don’t value you” you can say, “It makes sense to me that you want me home more nights of the week.” Other empathizing statements include “Of course you feel…” and “How could you not feel…” Validating your partner’s perspective doesn’t require you to abandon your own.
" What stops couples from making these validating statements?
Some people have a difficult time reflecting back what their spouse is saying because they fear it means they agree with that perspective or interpretation of the facts. I can debate for hours the particulars, specifics, figures, statements and events as Erin sees them. This not only helps her feel safe, it also takes us to a deeper level of intimacy.
To battle my natural tendency to debate and problem-solve Erin's feelings, I remind myself of the truism, " People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." I have to constantly remember that Erin won't care about my perspective, my emotions or my idea for a solution until she feels that I care about her.
I've found there are three powerful ways for couples to validate each other: 1. A great deal of validation occurs if you get good at reflecting or repeating back what your spouse is saying: • "So what I hear you saying is __." • "Is that what you are saying? " • "It sounds like __ is really important to you." • "So what bothered you was that __?