May 13, 2010

in Communication, Marriage Killer, Series

Invalidation is trying to “win” by saying the other person’s argument, point, or expectation is not valid. Sometimes it’s done because the person really feels what is being offered is not valid, but often it is an attempt to avoid discussing an issue. Label what your bride wants as invalid, and you can go ignore her and move on, right? It doesn’t generally work that way, but that does not seem to keep people from doing it.

Men have a bad habit of invalidating feelings. Since women are usually more about and aware of feelings than we are, this is often a gender-based problem. On the other side, a woman may reject what a man offers because he does not present his thought or desires with accompanying feelings. Invalidation often happens along gender lines, due to the different ways men and woman think and react to things. Different life experience and what has been expected of us in the past also leads to invalidation. Invalidation can become much like a stereotype, with, for example, men invalidating woman’s driving or women invalidating men’s sexuality. These positions seem to have some “cover” because so many others will agree with them, at least on some level.

Aside from why invalidation happens, the reality is it hurts. Invalidation often comes across as a rejection of not just a person’s idea, but of them as a person. Invalidation may be a useful to in winning a fight, but it is not a tool that has any place in marriage (or any relationship for that matter). You would do well to assume that invalidating your bride’s ideas, feelings, needs or expectations is a great way to hurt or anger her, and a horrible way to working out any difference.

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