Validation Does Not Equal Agreement

Recently I had a comment on my post, How to Validate Your Spouse’s Feelings.

It read:

“How do I validate my wife’s feelings when I disagree with the facts she is basing those feelings on? I understand the feelings but want to help her recognize the distorted facts so she doesn’t have to feel hurt.”

I thought this was a great issue to bring up and I’m grateful for this man’s desire to gain clarity on the practice of validating. You see …

Validation is not agreement. 

Oil CanI know that sounds counterintuitive, but validation serves a different function in communication than “negotiation” or “processing through an issue” does. Validation helps the speaker to feel heard, understood and often results in comfort and connection. But healthy communication doesn’t have to, or even should, stop with validation.

Validation is like the oil you’d add to a bone-dry engine, so that when you do drive your car {address the issue}, it runs smoothly.

When the time is right, and the conversation to come is bathed in prayer, discussing the issue with a respectful tone and active listening in an effort to find resolution can often be the best course of action. If you’ve had difficulty navigating a conversation on this subject in the past, then it might be best to find a counselor or life-coach who can walk with you through the processoffering a neutral and skilled third party to the equation.

Here’s a video my oldest son, Jordan, found recently that kind of pokes fun at this problem called, “It’s Not about the Nail.” It must be quite the sensation on FB, since my good blogging friend, Elizabeth, over at The Warrior Wives also posted this video on her blog and spoke to the issue of validation just the other day.

I almost changed my plans to publish this, but decided to go ahead since Elizabeth gave me her sweet encouragement to do so. And I do hope that I’ve brought some different thoughts to the subject. So if you haven’t already seen the video, it’s very short and totally “hilarious!” This one’s for all of you fix-it guys {and gals} out there! 

Photo by LadyDragonflyCC – >;< - Spring in Mich... (3,579)


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Joining with NOBH, Marriage Monday, Works for Me Wednesday, To Love Honor and Vacuum and T.G.I.F.
 
Now, it’s time for Wedded Wednesday!

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Come join our Wednesday Link-up!

  • Validation! Yes, I’m thinking of how I need to apply this to parenting. I often neglect to acknowledge that my child’s feelings are authentic in her little world. It’s too easy to get frustrated because I “know better.” Thanks for the wisdom, Beth! As always.

  • Validation! Yes, I’m thinking of how I need to apply this to parenting. I often neglect to acknowledge that my child’s feelings are authentic in her little world. It’s too easy to get frustrated because I “know better.” Thanks for the wisdom, Beth! As always.

    • I’m so glad you’re applying this to your daughter, Becky, because so much of the time, as parents, we think we get a pass to jump in with our solutions! I know I didn’t do this enough when I had little ones and it’s even harder now that they are big. You’re starting an incredible precedent that will help your daughter(s) grow into adulthood feeling truly loved by their mom. Can I nominate you for mom of the year? 😉

      • Ha ha! How about Messy Mom of the Year? That would fit so much better. Hugs!

  • Do I get points for validating my own feelings really well? 😉

    I find it easier to validate my husband’s feelings on big issues. It’s the small ones that trip me.

    As Becky pointed out, with our children, I “know better”, and so I want to hush them so they can better hear my more mature perspective on their “small” issues. As they grow older, being hushed makes them chomp harder at the bit and sometimes stampede.

    I have MUCH to learn!

    • I think that’s an important point, Amy. Sometimes it is harder to validate the smaller issues and smaller feelings. But feelings will not be ignored! ha! We have to deal with them somehow. Validating them is one way we can deal with them and get them out of the way to deal with the truth of our situation. Thanks so much for being vulnerable in what you’ve shared here. I appreciate that and resonate with your same struggles, my friend. We’ve got a lifetime to learn these things! 🙂

  • Do I get points for validating my own feelings really well? 😉

    I find it easier to validate my husband’s feelings on big issues. It’s the small ones that trip me.

    As Becky pointed out, with our children, I “know better”, and so I want to hush them so they can better hear my more mature perspective on their “small” issues. As they grow older, being hushed makes them chomp harder at the bit and sometimes stampede.

    I have MUCH to learn!

  • Alecia

    Love this post! And…love that you took the time to say that before you discuss the issue at hand it needs to be “bathed in prayer.” Key.

    • Yes, it really is key to just about everything we do in life, Alecia. God is reminding me of that daily, so I can’t help but pass that golden truth along to others as well. Thanks so much for your kind words, my friend!

  • Alecia

    Love this post! And…love that you took the time to say that before you discuss the issue at hand it needs to be “bathed in prayer.” Key.

  • Nan

    Loved the video, how fun! Oh yes, my hubby and I had many arguments over the whole “I don’t want you go fix it, I just want you to listen” scenario. It took him awhile to get it, lol!

    In his man mind he’s thinking “Why are you telling me if you don’t want me to fix it?” Lol!

    Validating someone’s feelings doesn’t have to mean that you agree with what they’re feeling. It just means you’re validating their right to feel it.

    I have told people before that I didn’t agree with them or their response (or behavior) on a certain point or a certain action, but that I could totally understand why they were so upset about it. While I didn’t agree with what they did, I could totally understand how hurt they were and what led them to that point.

    By accepting and acknowledging that they feel it, you get closer to diffusing the whole situation.
    Thanks for hosting today!

    • Yes, validation really does help to “diffuse” a situation. That’s a good word for it. And yes, my husband and I used to go ’round and ’round with the whole “Mr. Fix-it” hat he’d promptly put on when I shared a problem with him. Now we both know to validate and then deal with the problem. It’s really cut down on many of our arguments just doing this one simple thing at the beginning. Thanks for weighing in, Nan. Love seeing your face in this place!

  • Nan

    Loved the video, how fun! Oh yes, my hubby and I had many arguments over the whole “I don’t want you go fix it, I just want you to listen” scenario. It took him awhile to get it, lol!

    In his man mind he’s thinking “Why are you telling me if you don’t want me to fix it?” Lol!

    Validating someone’s feelings doesn’t have to mean that you agree with what they’re feeling. It just means you’re validating their right to feel it.

    I have told people before that I didn’t agree with them or their response (or behavior) on a certain point or a certain action, but that I could totally understand why they were so upset about it. While I didn’t agree with what they did, I could totally understand how hurt they were and what led them to that point.

    By accepting and acknowledging that they feel it, you get closer to diffusing the whole situation.
    Thanks for hosting today!

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    This is such a great piece of wisdom we would all do well to listen too! I often need to listen to my husband when he shares his frustrations from work. I used to try to solve his problems for common sense told me that there is just one way to deal with a situation, but he knew it as well. What he needs when he talks to me is not a wise nose, but a tender heart and a listening ear!
    Much love XX
    Mia

    • This reminds me of Solomon’s words, that there is a time for everything. I believe that’s what this boils down to–just the timing. I bet your husband wants to know what you think, Mia, just maybe not immediately. But I’ve been there and sometimes still do that! What we want is to end their pain and that’s a good, compassionate desire, just not always helpful in the moment. I appreciate your vulnerable heart here, sweet friend. I pray that we’ll both learn how to live this out better! Hugs to you!

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    This is such a great piece of wisdom we would all do well to listen too! I often need to listen to my husband when he shares his frustrations from work. I used to try to solve his problems for common sense told me that there is just one way to deal with a situation, but he knew it as well. What he needs when he talks to me is not a wise nose, but a tender heart and a listening ear!
    Much love XX
    Mia

  • Sherry Lechner Jennings

    Beth, what a great post…we spend so much time sharing that validation does not equal agreement. We’ll be using this post as a reference to share!! LOVE the video, too!!! We love Wedded Wednesday over at http://www.intentionallyyours.org!!

    • I’d love that, Sherry! I feel blessed by the support you all give to me here. We’re stronger together fighting for healthy marriages than on our own. Thanks so much for taking the time to encourage me, my friend.

  • Sherry Lechner Jennings

    Beth, what a great post…we spend so much time sharing that validation does not equal agreement. We’ll be using this post as a reference to share!! LOVE the video, too!!! We love Wedded Wednesday over at http://www.intentionallyyours.org!!

  • Guest

    Validation is acknowledging the feelings behind a statement. I’m afraid that is a weakness of mine. Thanks for the reminder. Great post, Beth. Linking it to my page, facebook.com/choosetotrust

  • Scott Perkins

    Validation is acknowledging the feelings behind a statement. I’m afraid that is a weakness of mine. Thanks for the reminder. Great post, Beth. Linking it to my page, facebook.com/choosetotrust

  • Validation is acknowledging the feelings behind a statement. I’m afraid that is a weakness of mine. Thanks for the reminder. Great post, Beth. Linking it to my page, facebook.com/choosetotrust

    • Thanks so much for letting me know this helps you, Scott. I feel privileged to be an influencer in your life–who I have such respect for, my friend! Thanks for encouraging and supporting me here.

  • Validation is acknowledging the feelings behind a statement. I’m afraid that is a weakness of mine. Thanks for the reminder. Great post, Beth. Linking it to my page, facebook.com/choosetotrust

  • Beth I love these thoughts on validation! The video fits the subject perfectly! Your thoughts offer such clarity on validation. I used to think that validating my husbands feelings e.g through active listening, proper body language e.t.c meant I was agreeing with everything he said.

    So I fought validation cos i wanted him to know I didn’t agree with everything he said! ha! Got our conversations into lots of ruts and dead ends! I love what you say here cos I’ve found it to be true. A spouse who feels validated is more able/willing to go the rest of the way..to sort out the issue on the table.

    • Yes, it really is about readying the relationship for sorting things out, as you’ve said, Ngina. And I get that it feels wrong to validate feelings that we know are not based in truth. I feel that struggle every time I choose to validate instead of addressing the issue. This certainly isn’t easy, but it makes things “easier” than when we jump on the “fix-it” bandwagon. I’m so glad that you’ve figured this one out, but then, you’ve really worked hard to be proactive in your marriage, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit! Hugs to you!

  • Beth I love these thoughts on validation! The video fits the subject perfectly! Your thoughts offer such clarity on validation. I used to think that validating my husbands feelings e.g through active listening, proper body language e.t.c meant I was agreeing with everything he said.

    So I fought validation cos i wanted him to know I didn’t agree with everything he said! ha! Got our conversations into lots of ruts and dead ends! I love what you say here cos I’ve found it to be true. A spouse who feels validated is more able/willing to go the rest of the way..to sort out the issue on the table.

  • Got through on Google Chrome, my friend!

    • Yay, for techno-nerds! We triumph again! 🙂 Love having you here, sweet friend!

  • Got through on Google Chrome, my friend!

  • I KNOW this wise truth, but have a hard time APPLYING it in the heat of the moment. Thanks for the reminder that we can disagree and still build one another up.

    • Yes, I know it too and often forget it when the heat is on. That’s why counseling, coaching and writing about it are so good for me–it ingrains it in my head and heart. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that, Alicia! I love that we can “build one another up” in more ways than one!

  • Alicia Bruxvoort

    I KNOW this wise truth, but have a hard time APPLYING it in the heat of the moment. Thanks for the reminder that we can disagree and still build one another up.

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    I’ve been thinking about validation recently, not in marriage but in another relationship. What you have said here makes a lot of sense and I will keep it in mind. Thanks!

    • Yes, these truths hold true in other relationships as well. It’s not just “messy marriage” but “messy life and relationships.” We all need a helping hand! I’m encouraged that this is giving you some perspective in that relationship, Megan. I’m praying for you that it will help.

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    I’ve been thinking about validation recently, not in marriage but in another relationship. What you have said here makes a lot of sense and I will keep it in mind. Thanks!

  • so well done, Beth. the video perfectly illustrates validation without agreement. {which will always be as difficult for me as it is for the husband in the video, i think}

    • Thanks so much, Kelli. I always appreciate hearing from you, my friend. And I’m loving that “new do.” You really are rockin’ it in style, my dear!

  • so well done, Beth. the video perfectly illustrates validation without agreement. {which will always be as difficult for me as it is for the husband in the video, i think}

  • I’m so glad you’re applying this to your daughter, Becky, because so much of the time, as parents, we think we get a pass to jump in with our solutions! I know I didn’t do this enough when I had little ones and it’s even harder now that they are big. You’re starting an incredible precedent that will help your daughter(s) grow into adulthood feeling truly loved by their mom. Can I nominate you for mom of the year? 😉

  • I think that’s an important point, Amy. Sometimes it is harder to validate the smaller issues and smaller feelings. But feelings will not be ignored! ha! We have to deal with them somehow. Validating them is one way we can deal with them and get them out of the way to deal with the truth of our situation. Thanks so much for being vulnerable in what you’ve shared here. I appreciate that and resonate with your same struggles, my friend. We’ve got a lifetime to learn these things! 🙂

  • Yes, it really is key to just about everything we do in life, Alecia. God is reminding me of that daily, so I can’t help but pass that golden truth along to others as well. Thanks so much for your kind words, my friend!

  • Yes, validation really does help to “diffuse” a situation. That’s a good word for it. And yes, my husband and I used to go ’round and ’round with the whole “Mr. Fix-it” hat he’d promptly put on when I shared a problem with him. Now we both know to validate and then deal with the problem. It’s really cut down on many of our arguments just doing this one simple thing at the beginning. Thanks for weighing in, Nan. Love seeing your face in this place!

  • This reminds me of Solomon’s words, that there is a time for everything. I believe that’s what this boils down to–just the timing. I bet your husband wants to know what you think, Mia, just maybe not immediately. But I’ve been there and sometimes still do that! What we want is to end their pain and that’s a good, compassionate desire, just not always helpful in the moment. I appreciate your vulnerable heart here, sweet friend. I pray that we’ll both learn how to live this out better! Hugs to you!

  • I’d love that, Sherry! I feel blessed by the support you all give to me here. We’re stronger together fighting for healthy marriages than on our own. Thanks so much for taking the time to encourage me, my friend.

  • Thanks so much for letting me know this helps you, Scott. I feel privileged to be an influencer in your life–who I have such respect for, my friend! Thanks for encouraging and supporting me here.

  • Yes, it really is about readying the relationship for sorting things out, as you’ve said, Ngina. And I get that it feels wrong to validate feelings that we know are not based in truth. I feel that struggle every time I choose to validate instead of addressing the issue. This certainly isn’t easy, but it makes things “easier” than when we jump on the “fix-it” bandwagon. I’m so glad that you’ve figured this one out, but then, you’ve really worked hard to be proactive in your marriage, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit! Hugs to you!

  • Yay, for techno-nerds! We triumph again! 🙂 Love having you here, sweet friend!

  • Yes, I know it too and often forget it when the heat is on. That’s why counseling, coaching and writing about it are so good for me–it ingrains it in my head and heart. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that, Alicia! I love that we can “build one another up” in more ways than one!

  • Yes, these truths hold true in other relationships as well. It’s not just “messy marriage” but “messy life and relationships.” We all need a helping hand! I’m encouraged that this is giving you some perspective in that relationship, Megan. I’m praying for you that it will help.

  • Thanks so much, Kelli. I always appreciate hearing from you, my friend. And I’m loving that “new do.” You really are rockin’ it in style, my dear!

  • Betty Draper

    Love the video, posted it on my fb. And you post was so clear on validation without agreement…good post. ‘Going to copy some of your points for we work with a lot of young missionaries couples coming home for furlough. Always looking for phrase that speak truth to hand out. Thanks

    • I’m so glad you feel like this clarifies what validation provides, Betty. And I feel so privileged to know that you’re going to share this with the missionaries you know. I’m certain missionaries face this challenge on a regular basis–wanting to validate and yet also address wrong beliefs. Now, they know they can do both and perhaps bridge the gap that might have existed without it. Thanks for your encouragement!

  • Betty Draper

    Love the video, posted it on my fb. And you post was so clear on validation without agreement…good post. ‘Going to copy some of your points for we work with a lot of young missionaries couples coming home for furlough. Always looking for phrase that speak truth to hand out. Thanks

  • OutnumberedMom

    Oh, Beth. Just laughed out loud. The video is hilarious. Love your point, too, about validation not being agreement — and its importance!

    • Isn’t it? I probably laughed out loud too when I first saw it … and that’s not something I do too often. I guess, it’s a subject that’s near and dear to a counselor’s heart and i love how they poked fun at it! Thanks for your sweet encouragement, Laura Lee!

  • OutnumberedMom

    Oh, Beth. Just laughed out loud. The video is hilarious. Love your point, too, about validation not being agreement — and its importance!

  • Ha ha! How about Messy Mom of the Year? That would fit so much better. Hugs!

  • I’m so glad you feel like this clarifies what validation provides, Betty. And I feel so privileged to know that you’re going to share this with the missionaries you know. I’m certain a missionary’s face this challenge on a regular basis–wanting to validate and yet also address wrong beliefs. Now, they know they can do both and perhaps bridge the gap that might have existed without it. Thanks for your encouragement!

  • Isn’t it? I probably laughed out loud too when I first saw it … and that’s not something I do too often. I guess, it’s a subject that’s near and dear to a counselor’s heart and i love how they poked fun at it! Thanks for your sweet encouragement, Laura Lee!

  • Hannah @ Boots & Feet

    My husband and I had this conversation about validation (of my feelings) very early on in our marriage. 🙂 I’m sharing this!

    Thanks for coming by my blog and leaving such a supportive note! I sure do appreciate your words!

  • Hannah @ Boots & Feet

    My husband and I had this conversation about validation (of my feelings) very early on in our marriage. 🙂 I’m sharing this!

    Thanks for coming by my blog and leaving such a supportive note! I sure do appreciate your words!

  • That works too! 🙂 Hugs right back at ya!

  • rboerner

    I can easily become a fix it person also. I mean c’mon when the nail is that obvious, shouldn’t I be allowed to tell them. HA HA! Through counseling we are both learning to listen and validate each other’s feelings more. Great insight once again my friend!

  • rboerner

    I can easily become a fix it person also. I mean c’mon when the nail is that obvious, shouldn’t I be allowed to tell them. HA HA! Through counseling we are both learning to listen and validate each other’s feelings more. Great insight once again my friend!

  • Linda L. Martin

    Wow, that video “nailed” it! It really did. I laughed, and felt embarrassed. I showed it to my husband, and it actually made him feel frustrated because it was so realistic. (Ouch.) Thank you for shedding some light, and speaking on this subject!
    Also, thanks for stopping by my blog recently, and commenting!
    ~Linda
    http://www.lindalmartin.com

  • Linda L. Martin

    Wow, that video “nailed” it! It really did. I laughed, and felt embarrassed. I showed it to my husband, and it actually made him feel frustrated because it was so realistic. (Ouch.) Thank you for shedding some light, and speaking on this subject!
    Also, thanks for stopping by my blog recently, and commenting!
    ~Linda
    http://www.lindalmartin.com