Invalidating feelings relationship
Your partner may not be looking for help with a solution -- they probably have already tried to find ways to solve the problem, and might feel even more frustrated in hearing advice, no matter how good your intention.So how do you effectively listen to and validate your partner? The deeper component has more to do with you do together. Consistent, thoughtful validation of your partner's thoughts and feelings is the best thing you can do for your relationship.
Show you are listening by stopping what you are doing (closing the laptop, turning off the TV), turning to face them, nodding your head, and making eye contact as they talk. Acknowledging and accepting is the next step in validation.
In fact, one defintion of the so-called "borderline personality disorder" is "the normal response of a sensitive person to an invalidating environment" (2)Psychiatrist R. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He writes "...a history of emotion invalidation (i.e., a history of childhood psychological abuse and parental punishment, minimization, and distress in response to negative emotion) was significantly associated with emotion inhibition (i.e., ambivalence over emotional expression, thought suppression, and avoidant stress responses).
He found that when one's feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy. Further, emotion inhibition significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms.) (Reference)Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal.
While all of these things certainly won't hurt your relationship (at all!
Maybe it's your friend who dropped everything when you called with exciting news and was eager to share your joy. It means that when your partner tells you about their day, or shares their feelings, you stay with them in the moment, honoring their experience.