I think we all want to have an intimate marriage, but we often miss one important step in achieving that. To have an intimate marriage, we must understand and make room for both partners’ wants and desires, without judgment or shame. But what I often see happening is that one partner thinks their wants and desires matter more than the other partner and they expect their partner to accommodate them. Or, I also see that one partner suppresses their wants and desires or preferences to accommodate their partners. This can create resentment, anxiety, and guilt. So, why do we do this and what can we do about it? That’s what we’re talking about in this episode.
One of the ways we create more intimacy in marriage is understanding and making room for both partners’ wants and desires. This applies to all areas of the relationship, including in the sexual realm. To have a truly intimate marriage, both people’s wants and desires must be taken into consideration. They must not be judged or shamed for their wants and desires, even if they invalidate you or don’t make you comfortable.
What I often see happening is that one partner thinks that their wants and desires matter more than the other partner and they expect their partner to accommodate them. Or, one partner suppresses their wants and desires or preferences to accommodate their partners. Here are some common scenarios I see where sexual accommodation may occur and how it can affect individuals and the relationship:
- Discrepancies in Sexual Desire: One partner may have a significantly higher or lower desire for sex than the other, leading to accommodation as one partner tries to match the other’s frequency.
- Unfulfilled Fantasies or Preferences: People may suppress their own sexual desires, such as particular fantasies or kinks, because they fear their partner’s judgment or disapproval.
- Pressure for Specific Acts: Accommodation can occur when one partner feels pressured to engage in sexual acts they are not comfortable with but do so to please their partner.
Those accommodating may experience emotional distress, guilt, or anxiety about not being true to their own desires. Continuously accommodating can erode self-esteem and self-worth, especially if it leads to feeling used or unimportant. People may feel like they’re not being true to themselves or their own desires, leading to a sense of disconnection from their own identity.
While it might be nice for the partner who is getting their way, over time this kind of accommodation is unsustainable. Those accommodating will usually build up resentment towards their partner, which can damage the emotional bond in the relationship.
Sexual accommodation often involves a lack of honesty about one’s own desires. Partners may not express their true preferences, which inhibits open and authentic communication. Honesty is an important and essential part of an intimate relationship. You can’t have intimacy without it.
So why do we accommodate in our marriage? Here are some possible reasons:
- Fear of Rejection: Many individuals fear that expressing their true desires or boundaries may lead to rejection or judgment from their partner, causing them to accommodate to avoid potential conflict or disapproval.
- Fear of Conflict: Some people may dread conflicts or arguments that could arise from different wants, desires, and preferences, leading them to accommodate to maintain peace in the relationship.
- Sexual Guilt: Societal or religious norms can instill feelings of guilt around sex and sexuality. This guilt can make individuals suppress their own desires to conform to perceived moral standards.
- Guilt from Past Experiences: Previous negative sexual experiences or traumas can lead to guilt, causing individuals to accommodate as a way of coping or avoiding potential triggers.
- Low Self-Esteem:
- Self-Worth Issues: Individuals with low self-esteem may believe that their own desires or preferences are not valid or important. They might accommodate to gain a sense of approval or validation from their partner. They may also want their partner to accommodate them to legitimize their wants and desires and validate them.
- Fear of Abandonment: Low self-esteem can lead to a fear of being abandoned or left alone. In such cases, accommodating a partner’s desires may be an attempt to maintain the relationship, even if it comes at the cost of personal satisfaction.
- Societal and Cultural Influences:
- Traditional Gender Roles: Societal norms and traditional gender roles can place expectations on how individuals should behave in intimate relationships. This can lead to individuals accommodating to fit into these predefined roles.
- Media and Peer Pressure: Media portrayal of idealized sexual relationships and peer pressure to conform to certain standards can influence individuals to accommodate to meet perceived norms.
- Stigma and Taboos: Societal stigmas and taboos around sexuality can make people reluctant to openly discuss their desires, leading to accommodation as they avoid these difficult conversations.
So, you might be recognizing how you have accepted accommodation from your partner. I get it, it feels good to get what you want. But look at things from your partner’s perspective. It’s not sustainable and their resentment is probably growing and growing which is going to deteriorate the marriage.
So how do you move out of this dynamic?
- Start talking and being more honest. Let your partner know what you’ve been doing and what you aren’t willing to do anymore. Let them know that they matter to you and you want both of your wants and desires to be taken into consideration. Marriages can’t be one sided.
- Establish consent as an important part of your marriage and sexual relationship. Often we think that consent goes out the window when we are married. It doesn’t. And this is exactly why. And remember, that it should be enthusiastic consent.
- Avoid pressuring or coercing your spouse. Avoid shaming them or judging them. None of those things belong in a marriage either.
- Avoid getting defensive or starting a fight if your partner is unwilling to hear your side and make room for your desires and preferences. Own your part in the dynamic but don’t take responsibility for what is not yours. This is where honesty often comes in. Learning to stay calm and be honest is important in these conversations.
- Have courage. Having these hard conversations, changing the dynamics in your marriage takes courage and is often uncomfortable. But the discomfort is worth it.
Now, many of you listening are women and you might be listening to this from the perspective of duty sex. Yes, that is definitely one place where women will often accommodate and they aren’t being true to themselves.
But, another perspective to listen to this from is the higher desire husband who is forced to accommodate his lower desire wife. And his resentment is growing too.
It doesn’t matter if you are higher desire or lower desire, accommodation happens. And when accommodation happens, it creates resentment. So if you are having trouble moving out of this dynamic, get yourself some help. Most likely, it’s not going to be fixed on its own.
I now have a waiting list for couples to work with me. If this is something you want to work on, make sure you sign up for a couples consultation and get on my waiting list.