Accommodating to avoid marital conflict is very common. Accommodating fits somewhere between Avoidance and Compromise. When we accommodate we appear to stay in the discussion (unlike Avoidance) but we are not communicating our real feelings.
Accommodating is a great strategy when we don’t have any real emotion or opinion on an issue. In that case we should state that, so that our spouse understands.
For example, your spouse suggests spending money on a new tablecloth. Personally, you rarely consider tablecloths and have no concern about the expense. Then let them know you are willing to accommodate by telling them so. Doing so keeps the conversation going and maintains intimacy.
More typically, Accomodationg occurs during a pre-conflict situation with your spouse. Accommodating is attempting to avoid conflict by not speaking up. When we accommodate we are being dishonest with our selves and our spouse. Accommodation is often driven by our fear of dealing with potential conflict.
For years, I was prone to this style because I was a “people-pleaser”. My wife would ask me to do something with her. Maybe go shopping or drive her on an errand. Internally I really didn’t want to do it, but rather than being honest about my preferences I would stuff it and go along. I chose to not speak up assuming a people-pleasing posture.
That was great for a while. But then I would get frustrated. But rather than expressing frustration about my dishonest behavior, I expressed it to her as it being her problem. As expected, she would be surprised because I had hidden my true feelings. That lack of honesty damaged our intimacy and punished her for my unwillingness to engage.
Being a “people-pleaser” is not loving or respectful. A sure path to unhappiness is trying to continually please your spouse. That is an impossible task and you are not up to it.
Accommodation is common among those who question their personal value or who think the best approach is to keep their spouse “happy”. Struggling with our sense of worth/value is a common problem but it is important to not let it sabotage your marital relationship.
Remember. Trying to always please your spouse (or any one else) is a recipe for unhappiness. Learning to say no, or not right now is a healthy part of any relationship. I would even argue that the inability to say “no” (politely) indicates you are acting more like a child than a spouse in the relationship.
Regular accommodation, as a conflict avoidance/resolution style is a lose/lose approach. Here are some good reasons why.
- Reduces intimacy by hiding/suppressing our true feelings
- Is a sign of unresolved issues of fear
- Neglects your feelings, devalues you, hurts others
- Makes the marriage lop-sided because one of you is not showing up
- Increases the chances of making bad marital decisions
- Leads to inner frustration, doubt and questioning your worth
- Tends to make one spouse a despot and the other a doormat
For a successful marriage, both of us need to “show up”. When one spouse constantly accommodates and hides their feelings, they are not showing up. They want their spouse to think that they are actively participating but the reality is that they are AWOL.
Accommodation is also common in relationships where one spouse uses the Competitive Conflict Style for resolution. Feeling as if they cannot “win”, the non-competitive spouse will use Accomodation to avoid angering the competitive spouse.
Continued accommodation, in this situation, leads to increasing demands (and domination) by the other spouse. Now you have two issues to work through, one for each spouse.
Getting out of “accomodation” mode can be done but will likely take some assistance from others. There needs to be some honest examination of the situation to identify the underlying fears and false beliefs leading to the “people-pleasing” behavior. And, if one spouse is selfish or dominating, then that needs to be addressed, as well.
When both spouses realize the wonderful benefits of putting accomodation behind them, they will experience a relationship so much more satisfying.
As I’ve learned to speak up and so no/not now with Lou Ann I’ve found that she isn’t the type of person to take it personally. I admire her for that. We also don’t have as much buried frustration looking for an opportunity to express itself.
So! Don’t stay stuck in accomodation, seek to move toward more intimacy!
I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone. – Ed Sheeran
Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are. – Stephen Moyer
The only thing wrong with trying to please everyone is that there’s always at least one person who will remain unhappy. You. – Elizabeth Parke
Do you find yourself being a people-pleaser with your spouse? Where did this start? In what situations are you prone to “accommodate”?
How far do you find yourself accommodating? Can you think of any lasting benefits to regularly accomodating?
How could you be more honest with your spouse and accept responsibility for your role in the marriage?
Is your Accommodation because your spouse is demanding or competitive?
Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’;
anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:37
Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31