Does Your Spouse Validate You?

“Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear. And I can’t help but ask myself how much I let the fear take the wheel and steer.”
(Incubus, “Drive”)

Yesterday we looked at all the holes in our souls that marriage simply cannot fill. The most common of these is the quest for validation.

We want someone to, with total certainty, pronounce us as valid, with a right to our opinions and positions, and entitled to basic respect. (As we said yesterday, we know we’re seeking this validation whenever our strongest fantasy is to hear our spouse cry out in ecstasy: “Honey, you were right.”).

The problem is that once we hit adulthood, no one can validate us anymore. If they could, we wouldn’t keep searching for it after the first time we felt recognized. That would be like asking the store to stamp, and “validate,” our parking pass again and again.

We’re satisfied that once is enough for free parking, but for some reason it’s never enough for personal validation. Why? Because, unlike parking, no other person can validate us as a person. No one can ever pronounce us as completely valid.

Even when I speak to religious audiences, I tell them that “not even God can validate you, because according to your foundational beliefs, God has gone to great lengths to show you how valuable, and valid, you are. Yet you still have trouble really believing it. That’s ’cause maybe, just maybe, validation is an inside job.”

You do not need your significant other to recognize you and validate your feelings. You do not need your relationship to make you feel whole.

We can all stand tall on our own, without needing our spouse to correct our posture, or our relationship to prop us up.

Ironically, as we learn to validate ourselves, and no longer need our spouses to provide something they can’t, they end up telling us we were right more often. (And cry out more intimate things in ecstasy).

Peace begins with pause,
Hal

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