ACCOMMODATION

There are points when a couple comes to an impasse on an issue that is important to each of them. They have to live through the process of feeling stuck, give things time, and use the skills involved in reaching a consensus or a compromise. However, there are some situations in which there is an impasse and the issue at hand is more important to one person than it is to the other. At these times it is helpful to have the option of saying to yourself “this means more to my wife/husband than it does to me, so I will let go and give her/him what they want”.

Accommodating to the things that you know mean a lot to your partner is a way of being considerate towards her or him. It is giving to, rather than giving in to, your partner. This is usually appreciated and leads to your partner wanting to reciprocate by accommodating to your needs. It may sound like a simple idea, but when there has been ongoing tension in a relationship people can become reflexive in saying no to each other. They are used to seeing the relationship as a power struggle and justify being oppositional by reminding themselves how often their spouses have withheld, blocked, and deprived them. This pattern of mutually not giving to each other creates more tension and distance.

In this context accommodating to your partner’s wishes and needs can be a small, but significant step toward decreasing the level of tension and conflict in the relationship. When accommodating occurs soon after an argument it can signal an attempt to reach out and re-connect. When it happens after a few hours or a few days, accommodating can help both your partner and yourself get unstuck from a position you never wanted to be in. How many times have you felt angry and distant toward your partner, hardly speaking to one another, and asked yourself “how did I get here”? We have all had the somewhat irrational experience of feeling angry and withholding about something that is not really that important to us. You have a choice at this point of holding on to being stubborn and not give in, or being flexible and showing you can put your partner’s needs ahead of your own at certain times.

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