Conscious Relationship: counselling tip #2
Why apologies typically don’t work
Couples sometimes misidentify the need for validation with the need to be agreed with. Validation is invaluable – we deeply crave to feel heard, valued, and cared for in our relationships. Especially when we are upset or confused, validation is the foundation of any meaningful communication.
Without feeling that our point of view is being validated, we tend to spiral into a futile attempt to be agreed with.
When this spiral of argument goes back and forth in a circular – I’ll try to convince you to agree with me, and then you try to convince me to agree with you dance – validation, not apology, is required. Apologies work well for small infractions (e.g. I’m sorry, I forgot to load the dishwasher).
Apologies typically keep larger problems in place, however, when used as a means to diffuse anger. In other words, if an apology is used to end the argument, you’re likely just deescalating but not resolving anything. In my experience, the same issue will resurface, maybe with a different theme, but nonetheless the same. Until both partners are willing to be genuinely invested in validating each other, it’s likely that many painful arguments will recycle again and again. Validation is a skill that can be learned – well worth its weight in gold.