The Importance of Validation

The Importance of Validation

Validation of feelings, not parking, although parking could be important, too.


Let me tell you a story. Long, long ago there was a charming man and a stunning woman and they felt like they were meant for each other. There was chemistry, they had complimentary personalities, and everyone thought they were perfect together. They got married, and their wedding day was a dream come true. The Mass was beautiful, he wrote the song for their first dance, and their friends and family traveled from all over the country for a great celebration. It seemed like happily ever after.

Then, reality hit. He liked to sleep with a fan blowing on his face. She couldn’t sleep with a fan on and just wanted to be covered with layers and kept warm. He liked to unwind and do nothing, she wanted to be busy doing something all the time. They just felt like they were on different pages!

One day, they wondered if they should have even gotten married. He owned his own business, and would call his wife in the middle of the day to say that something went wrong, or got pushed back, and his schedule was ruined. She tried to fix it by making a plan to get his schedule back on track.

Then he would come home. She would complain about how messy the house was and how exhausting the kids were all day, and he would tell her to clean as she went and give the kids more quiet time. Neither of them felt heard, and eventually they stopped sharing how they felt. He kept his business worries inside, and she grew to resent him for his job outside the house and how he never seemed stressed or shared what was on his mind.

This is a true story about my husband and I. Neither of us knew how to validate each other’s feelings, and so we never felt heard. My husband just stopped calling to vent and gave up on sharing his feelings, because he didn’t want me to fix anything, he just needed to let off some steam. I, meanwhile, continued to complain every night when he got home because I just wanted to feel that he understood how hard it can be to take care of 3 small kids all day long.  He would try to one-up me by explaining how tiring and physically demanding his job was. We were butting heads constantly.


When he came home without validating my feelings, he would start picking up, and then I felt like he was secretly holding it against me that I didn’t have time to clean before he came home. He was sticking it to me that he could clean up better than I could. Really, he was just trying to help me be less stressed, but I didn’t know his ulterior motives!

I didn’t get what validation was at first. I just seemed like you were a parrot, repeating what your spouse said. Why should I repeat what he just said, when I could ask how I could help instead? Doesn’t that seem more practical and loving? But what validation does is show 3 things:

1.     Acceptance – it’s okay for you to have this problem, to feel the way you are feeling.

2.     Understanding – I see where you are coming from, I understand how you feel.

3.     Empathy – I am putting myself if your shoes, and I am feeling what you are feeling.

The fixing and the coming up with solutions can happen later. For my husband, he could often figure something out himself after he was able to share his feelings and then have time to think about it.

When he came home, all my husband needed to say was, “I heard the baby was up last night, you must be tired after taking care of the kids all day!” And then I could feel safe, and let him help me pick up without trying to pick a fight about it.

Then my husband could call at lunchtime saying, “This is the last straw. I’m going to look for a new job, because I can’t do this anymore.” In the past, I would say, “no, you can’t quit your job because your family is depending on you! All you need is to tell the customer this, go buy this new piece, rearrange your schedule to look like this, etc.” But now I know to just listen. “You feel like you want to quit your job, and nothing is working out for you today. That is so frustrating!” By the time he gets home for dinner, he has figured out a solution to his work dilemma and can keep on working.  He had a safe place to share his feelings and time to work out a solution, and it doesn’t lead to an argument or bottled up feelings.

Through validation, we can share what’s on our heart and know we are being heard. Our relationship feels safe instead of feeling like a ticking time bomb. Rather than a breakdown of communication, validation is leading us to deeper communion on an emotional level.  Our marriage will always require effort, but there still can be a happily ever after! Validation is an important way to make that happen.

Click here to watch this award winning short film called Validation!  Also make sure to visit The Catholic Communication Cure, and try the free talks

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Loving God through Marriage

Loving God through Marriage

I struggle with loving God. Not because I don’t want to, but because I find it hard to figure out how. 


I struggle with thinking that the only way to love God is to participate in reverent Masses and have long hours in contemplative prayer. Well, with 3 kids under the age of 5, Mass is usually anything but reverent and prayer is almost never long and contemplative. So, I often feel like a failure when it comes to prayer.

In my mind, I know that if I wanted to spend long hours in prayer I should have become a nun. But marriage is my vocation, yet often times I feel like my vocation (particularly children), seem more like an obstacle to holiness instead of a path to it.
Now, I’ve read St. Therese’s Story of a Soul, and I’m familiar with her little way in that ordinary acts done with love are more important than great acts. But no offense to the wisdom of St. Therese, it just seemed like a cop out to my feeble human mind.
"Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ,” are the words of St. Therese, and I didn’t get it for a long, long time.

Then, one day it hit me while my family was at the park. I was watching my husband play on the playground with our children: chasing them around, helping them down the slide, pushing them on the swings.  And I just felt more in love with him! I felt loved in how he was showing love to the children we created together. So then the light bulb went off: of course that must be how God feels about us! When we love our spouses and kids, we are loving the Creator in whose image we are made.  As St. Therese said, “My vocation is love.” And love comes in lots of different forms!

Having that experience with my own family helped me realize that while time aside in prayer to God is important (vital!), I truly can love God through my vocation. By laying my own wants aside to serve my husband, getting off the computer to sit down and play trucks with my sons, or having one more tea party with my daughter, by doing these things, I am loving God. If all would make use of the ordinary duties and trials of their state in the way God intended, they would all become saints." Sister Miriam Teresa DemjanovichAnd now I can remember that day in the park, how I felt about my husband, and be reminded that’s how God feels about me.

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

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The School Called Marriage

The School Called Marriage

Lenten Greetings!

You may or may not have noticed that this has been Marriage Week. And the internet has been awash with a plethora of ideas to boost one’s marriage and the marriages of others.

Bravo to the US Bishops in particular for their innovative “What have you done for your marriage?” quiz and other digital ideas.

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We must be Spiritual Overseers to overcome the trials of life...

We must be Spiritual Overseers to overcome the trials of life...

When you stop and think about it, parents are a sort of “bishop” – an overseer of the family unit entrusted to them by God.

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Do You Believe In Grace? Marriage Edition.

Do You Believe In Grace? Marriage Edition.

I haven’t been intensely following the synod on the families, because I think I’d rather wait to hear the conclusions at the end instead of getting all worked up along the way. (picture: Byzantine wedding ring, depicting Christ uniting the bride and groom, 7th century, nielloed gold (Musée du Louvre).)

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God comes to the rescue of marriage!

A first in the history of the Church: canonization of a married couple.
Blessed Louis and Zélie, parents of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus (of Lisieux), will be the first couple ever to be canonized together, as a married couple, this Sunday October 18th, 2015.

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Making oneself understood!

Making oneself understood!

Together with some colleagues this week I experienced some in-service training on “Managing Difficult People.” (We even got a certificate for it!) 

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