How to Validate Your Spouse in the Conflicts of Marriage

Validating your spouse's feelings can be difficult to do. But with Beth's tips, you'll see the need as well as how to achieve this connecting agent for your marriage! #validate #validation #connection #communication #tips #Bible #verses #marriage #acceptance #listening

Have you ever desperately wanted your spouse to validate your feelings but have been left feeling unheard, judged, or simply misunderstood instead?

That’s because . . .

Validation is a skill that’s so very elusive to many of us. In fact, it’s often left unexplained and definitely not often modeled in our families, churches, and/or culture.

But it’s absolutely crucial to effective communication and the fulfillment of our craving for connection with our spouses.

I wanted to provide an example of a missed opportunity for validation between a husband and wife from Scripture. One that came to mind was a difficult interaction between King David and his wife Michal.

Allow me to give you a synopsis of what 2 Samuel 6:14-22 details. 

David was psyched about bringing the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem, dancing before the Lord with all his might in a priestly linen ephod during the procession into the holy city. 

His wife, Michal, watched from a window and “despised him in her heart” (v. 16c).

Later these two had an ugly exchange that began with Michal saying to David, 

“How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” —2 Samuel 6:20b

To be clear, David was not half-naked. He just wasn’t decked out in his finest royal robes. She apparently did not like the fact that he was associating himself with a lowly priest. 

Adding to that, she probably hated how much love and devotion he was showing to the Lord at that moment. Maybe she wanted to be the one David worshipped. Pure speculation on my part! 

But let’s consider how this exchange would have gone if she had decided to validate David’s feelings and experience instead. 

When David returned home, if she had concerns about his behavior, she could have leaned into her curiosity, saying, 

“What you did today really made an impression on me. But I want to understand it more because it seems out of character for a king to dance so passionately before his subjects. Can you tell me what motivated you to do it this way?” 

David could have used this open door to connect, even bond, with Michal—sharing his joy and deepest feelings—instead of feeling shamed for them. 

She, in turn, could have gained a sense of empathy for his experience if she had listened to him without a personal agenda. 

In response, she could have validated his feelings further, saying,

“This truly was a momentous opportunity for you to express your love for God. I can understand how strong and overwhelming this experience must have been for you.”

She could have gone on to say,

“But help me to understand how important the ark of the Lord is to you. Share more with me about your relationship with God and why you feel so passionately about Him.”

Then she could have really pulled her husband toward her, saying,

“I may not understand it all now, but I really want to know more about how you feel, whether I agree with it or not. Your feelings matter to me more than my opinions.” 

I’ve laced into the revised conversation above . . .

4 Steps for Validating Your Spouse’s Feelings and Experiences 

1. Let your spouse know that what s/he has said/experienced has made an impression on you.

Say something like . . .

“I know this has been hard for you to talk to me about. It must have taken a lot of courage.”

2. Communicate that your spouse’s words matter to you—are evoking compassion.

This might sound like . . .

“It hurts me to know I’ve hurt you in this way. I’m glad you cared enough about our relationship to come to me with this problem.”

3. Make it clear that you want to work on understanding your mate’s emotions more completely.

Add to the previous two statements something like . . . 

“I don’t know all that you’re feeling right now, but I’d like to know more. Help me to fully understand how difficult this is for you.”

4. Convey that you accept your spouse’s feelings.

Sum things up with something like . . .

“I want you to know that I believe you have a right to your feelings. They make sense to me and I accept them, even though I may not see eye-to-eye with you on this.”

This is where couples often get confused. They think that acceptance equals agreement. But acceptance is about embracing your spouse’s unique experience/feelings and viewing them as valid—as in, validation. 😉

Back to David and Michal . . .

David certainly reacted to his wife’s harsh and judgmental words in 2 Samuel 6:21-22 with defensiveness. Who could blame him? A monumental disconnection probably took place in his heart toward her. 

Perhaps her barrenness—a curse from God (2 Sam. 6:23)—was ushered in by a lack of sexual connection from that point forward. 

Regardless, a lot was at stake when the opportunity to validate was overstepped in favor of judgment. 

In the same way, the importance of validating your spouse’s feelings cannot be overstated. If you reject this opportunity, you will not just miss out on understanding your spouse, but will likely cause a fracture that breaks your spouse’s heart AND erodes your connection. 

It’s up to you—distancing yourself or connecting? 

Final Thoughts . . .

In highly charged moments, validation can be so crucial and extremely clarifying. Sometimes a conflict can be avoided by simply validating what your spouse has said. 

[bctt tweet=”Validation may be all your spouse was looking for in the first place! Be the spouse who averts hurt and conflict, stepping in to connect! #marriage #connecting ” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

Both giving and receiving validation can be difficult for those who are deeply wounded and unhealthy. So, if you’re living with a spouse who fits these descriptors, accept that this skill may be something you’ll need to “lead out on”—being the example. 

Who knows? You just might eventually inspire them to let go of self-protection and risk by validating your feelings and connecting with you in return.

If your spouse is unwilling or unable to validate, seek out friends who can validate, filling the emotional gap in your heart and mind.

Most of all, turn to God who cares deeply for your hurts and needs. He is always ready to offer comfort in your time of need!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  —Hebrews 4:15-16


How has validation helped you to connect with the one validating you? 


What are some of the reasons why you struggle to validate others, in particular your spouse?

19 responses to “How to Validate Your Spouse in the Conflicts of Marriage”

  1. Beth … what a valuable post this is. I seldom read anything about validation and yet it’s a huge need we have. We often don’t realize how much we crave it. It’s a bit of an art, but it’s probably one of the most priceless treasures we can offer the other. How deeply our marriages suffer if it’s unavailable. And how quickly they’d turn around if it was given and received freely.


  2. bluecottonmemory Avatar

    Validation requires listening – which is a skill I am honing at the present. I can see it is an art – and when others use it with me, I realize they are making a communication effort but sometimes it feels artificial – I guess that is where the art comes in. The more we learn the skill, the more real it becomes. Wonderful food for thought, Beth, on this Monday morning. And, yes,I agree – some posts are worth re-sharing, like good stories are worth re-telling! Wishing you blessing, comfort and sweet refreshing this week!


  3. I just posted about marriage and keeping our “best friend status” our spouses. Listening and validating them are so important! I’ve found that when I say something that validates my husband he is greatly encouraged. I’ve also found that he returns the favor! Great post! And, thanks for coming by The Beauty in His Grip to share God’s beauty! Blessings, Joan


  4. Marie Steinhardt Avatar
    Marie Steinhardt

    Thanks for the reminder Beth! Validation is such an important piece to good communication, but sometimes forgotten. I’ve found that in conversation with Steve, validation encourages him to communicate at a deeper level, I’m not always the best at validating, especially with my husband, your post is a great reminder that I need to practice validation more often.


  5. Truth here, Beth! The sad part is I kept reading it from MY perspective, from MY need to have my own feelings validated. Oh well–obviously there’s still work for me to do. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this again. Good stuff.


  6. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I don’t really have a personality that invites others to validate my feelings, which must have been terribly frustrating for my wife! It’s not coldness, but there is a distance at which I keep others, and while I’m trying to overcome it, it’s still there.

    I do try to validate others’ feelings, and I do try to be a good listener. I’m told I succeed, which is a validation of sorts.

    But for me, it’s all got to come from within. Some days it’s easy, some days, not.

    One thing I would say, is that if you have a non-validating spouse, avoid friendships with members of the opposite sex – even via email. That can be the first step on the road to an emotional affair, and can be extremely destructive for a marriage.


  7. This is so wonderful Beth. When i first read the post a few months ago (its been one year already?!), I printed and hang in front of my home work-desk for a season! Validation is one of those skills I need – it’s just one of those things I didn’t grow up with and so I can be quite stingy with it. But I have grown, thank God, I am not where i used to be, He’s helped me grow. Thanks for sharing again.


  8. Validation from my spouse always makes me feel open to share my heart. I think I need to deliberately ensure that I always validate him too.
    Thanks Beth, your posts always hit home.


  9. This is an excellent post — I hear what you are saying! 😉
    This is not a topic that you see discussed very often – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blog post on Validation before, but it is an important part of resolving conflict and feeling “safe” and “heard” and “understood.” Thank you for opening our eyes to this element of communicating with our spouses.


  10. I must admit this is one of my biggest struggles in my relationship. I have an ego the size of a football field and a mind that runs a million miles per minute. How can I actively show my partner that what I say I can do and what I do I mean? I know where my flaws are and what mistakes are truly my fault. I’m currently in a situation where its “fight or flight”. I want to fight, I want to validate, I want to grow.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated


  11. […] Day Three Ask your mate how s/he feels about a problem (doesn’t have to be about you or your marriage). Just let it be about something they’ve experienced lately. Then validate what your spouse feels by saying something like, “I can understand why you would feel that way. That must be so difficult. How can I help?” For more on this read my post, Validating Your Spouse’s Feelings. […]


  12. I think you have put your finger on a real need in a lot of marriage that may be going unnamed — and if you can’t name it, you can’t ask for it!
    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.


  13. I think we all need our feelings validated. That was one of the hard lessons Bill and I had to learn early in our marriage. I believe a lot of times women spout off about something that is bothering them and we just need a sympathetic ear. Men believe we are asking them to solve the problem and jump in with solutions. You are so right, Beth. Honest, open, and empathetic communication is the key to both spouses feeling validated.


  14. Do not try for validation,
    or aim to understand;
    accept, please, the situation,
    and sit, and take my hand.
    I said what I should not have said
    to one I hold so dear
    for my heart is filled with dread
    of the death that seems so near,
    and when you spoke sincerely
    of the envy that you feel
    that soon I’d see Christ clearly,
    I balked, and thus did steal
    the comfort that you sought to give;
    don’t validate, just please forgive.


  15. Validating each other is certainly something my spouse and I never learned. Partly because we grew up in homes where we were never validated, so we never learned to do it. We are learning. But boy can it be hard to validate a spouse when you are in the middle of conflict. But when you do, often the conflict dissipates. And then when it happens, it is so reassuring and reaffirming and beautiful.


  16. Great tips! Now to put them into practice instead of getting defensive. Pinned this so I can remind myself when it comes up!


  17. Great message, Beth. And you unpacked this so beautifully! I remember this need for validation was one of the first things I discussed with our counselor the times my husband and I went to see her. And because I want my husband to validate my feelings, in turn, I wan to do the same for him!


  18. This has been timely as my husband has been working from home full time bc of the pandemic. We have been married for 33 years, and suddenly are together 24/7. It has created challenges and I appreciate these specific ways to validate his feelings. To see that the opposite of that is to disconnect pulls it into focus for me. I want to respond in a positive way, and this really helps!


  19. Beth,
    What an excellent post and one I needed to read! I have been hurt terribly in the past and that makes me prone to want to jump to defending myself vs. listening to my husband and validating his feelings. I like how you pointed out there is a difference between acceptance and agreement. I may not agree with everything my husband is conveying, but I can accept and validate that this is how HE is feeling and how HE is seeing things. I’m getting better at hearing him out, pausing to digest, and being slow to speak in response. Great reminders here as always! It’s good to be back in the blogosphere after being away at “bootcamp” for a few months.
    Blessings sweet friend,
    Bev xo


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