We often have trouble communicating in relationships regardless of the type of relationship. This is more so in a couple’s environment as there are always competing priorities or values. One of the major enhancements to a relationship, especially in marriage, is to have emotional dialogues with each other. Emotional dialogue is the process by which one person offers a bid for emotional connection and the other person receives it by validating the emotions and demonstrating a willingness to nurture those emotions.
I can already picture, usually men, rolling their eyes at this point thinking they have to get in touch with their emotions. That is not entirely what I am referring to. It is simply taking the time to accept that the other person has those feelings or emotions and that they are valid for that person. Regardless of whether you believe the reason for the emotions to be valid, the emotions are real and being felt by the other person. By validating the other person’s emotions, you are indicating that you are willing to support them and help them with what they are feeling. This will help to establish empathy as well as create an emotional bond that can help heal past childhood attachment issues.
Suppose a spouse states that they are saddened by a coworker being confrontational with them due to a miscommunication. If the other spouse responds with statements that dismiss their feelings, such as “you shouldn’t feel that way,” or “you should do… or not do…,” it sends the message that their emotions are not valid and more importantly, that they do not matter or that they do not know how to solve their own problems. A more positive response would be to validate the emotions and be a supportive partner. Perhaps responding with, “I’m sorry you had to deal with that. How can I help?” would generate a validation point and make the other feel like they had a true support system in their spouse.
By validating emotions and offering to help, we generate a deeper level of closeness in the relationship and a deeper level of trust. One person offers their emotions to another, and those emotions are met with support and care. That is one way to build better relationships with a secure attachment and a foundation of trust. This applies to all relationships including parents with children, friends of all ages, siblings, and coworkers. When people can trust you with their emotions, they will want to build stronger relationships and will open up more.
Charles Bower, LPC Associate
My passion is relationships of all kinds. I have been working with people dealing with relationship issues, both professionally and personally, for several years and still see the potential in every relationship to not only survive, but to thrive. I also have experience with biblical and Christian counseling, which is also a passion of mine. However, I do not impose my beliefs on any client and have successfully navigated working with clients of varying world views and spiritual beliefs.