Marriage Monday: Apologize or Acknowledge?

I had lunch with a friend last week who has been going through a hard season of marriage at the same time Mark and I have been navigating our hard season.  We are both in marriage counseling and we were sharing what we’ve been learning in this season.

My friend shared that she and her husband are learning about the importance of “acknowledging” feelings.  I said that Mark and I are doing the same, but our counselor calls it “validating.”  What we’re both learning is one mistake many married couples make is not acknowledging the other person’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with their perspective.

She shared a story of how she and her husband had to make a decision for their family.  He felt they should make “Decision A” and she felt they should make “Decision B.”  Eventually he chose to move forward with Decision A.

She felt her husband was wrong and she wanted an apology.  He, on the other hand, felt he had made the right decision for their family. He didn’t want to apologize for something he didn’t feel was wrong.

The counselor helped them to see that maybe an apology wasn’t needed after all. Instead “acknowledgement” was needed.  He needed to acknowledge to her what it must have felt like for him to make “Decision A.”  He also needed to acknowledge how the final decision had personally affected her.

Sometimes an apology is needed in marriage.  Many times, however, acknowledgment will do the trick.  When we acknowledge–or validate–our spouse’s feelings, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them or even understand them.

Practically, it is saying things like, “That must have been hard for you,” or “What I hear you saying is ___________.” It might be looking your spouse in the eye and saying, “I didn’t consider how that might have affected you. I understand your hurt now. Thank you for sharing that with me.”

Acknowledging someone’s feelings is stepping into their shoes and seeing things from their perspective. It’s letting them know they’ve been heard and listened to.  It causes them to feel valued and cared for.

The next time you and your spouse have a disagreement or are sharing feelings with one another, try to acknowledge what they are communicating.  Being empathetic goes a long way in making your spouse feel loved and cared for.


Want regular encouragement?

Subscribe to get Jill's latest content by email.

Powered by ConvertKit

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 thoughts on “Marriage Monday: Apologize or Acknowledge?

  1. Empathy! Yes, the ability to see and feel things from another’s perspective. I find I am better acknowledging my kids feelings than I am my husband’s emotions. I wonder why-then I wish I hadn’t pondered the question. God sure is quick to answer: PRIDE. Mine. Ouch.
    Thanks for the reminder, Jill. You’ve raised my level of wifely sensitivity! Blessings.

  2. Jill; I so appreciate your vulnerability. I can’t remember your tough time you are in specifically, but remember you sharing earlier. This is a ‘trigger’ for me, as that was something our counselor worked with us on in the past 6 painful years we went through, and now ending in divorce. I think PRIDE is huge in this; men struggling so much with that. Just very painful. I want to be validated. I didn’t want this nor make the choice to end the marriage after 24 years. Just venting, I guess, more than anything.

    • Holly, I’m so sorry for the pain you are experiencing. It is so hard when marriage takes two and both aren’t committed to the needed changes. God feels your pain and He is near to the brokenhearted…so we know he is near to you!

  3. bravo! wise words… a counselor shared with me the {two} secret ingredients in marriages of 30-40 years or more: validation and appreciation… he/she “gets” me…”understands me.” i think it goes along with your post today. thanks for sharing the wealth with us.