When you are in the early stages of becoming a couple, you focus on commonalities. As long as you and your partner agree, you feel validated and secure. But int he simple process of revealing yourself and getting to know each other, you eventually disclose sides of yourself that do not agree or fit with your partner. Although disagreement is inevitable in any relationship, your anxiety rises when it happens.
To the degree you try to do it through your relationship. You and your spouse bend your psychological "shapes" to adapt to each other, reinforcing commonalities and making differences. The result temporarily lowers your anxiety and jump starts the mut6ual admiration society again.
The problem is that in this natural process of anxiety regulation through accommodation you step back from your real self to adopt a position or posture that fits with your partner's.
The price is misrepresenting who you are. If you are not very differentiates, you go through this process frequently. Many things make you anxious and you cannot take care of your own anxiety. You and your partner repeatedly "step back" from disclosing yourselves as you are and adopt positions and identities that keep your connection relatively quiet and stable. Some couples take turns accommodating each other; others assign the responsibility primarily to one partner. Either way, the process moves forward in two powerful ways.
First, you get tired of the pretense. Accumulated experience of "accommodation" gradually erode your willingness to continue and distort who you are. You have a vague but growing sense of not being totally honest. You continue anyway, however, because it reduces your anxiety.
You glorify this process by thinking of it as compromise and consideration.
Eventually, however, you become less and less willing to violate your own sense of self and your integrity.
Second, the process or elimination eventually leads to a critical situation. Through numerous repetitions of this shape-shifting dynamic, you create a pivotal situation that makes marriage rigid: through the process of elimination there are no more easy topics that reduce anxiety and evoke consensus. Only the hard ones are left. At this point neither you or your partner can reduce anxiety by accommodation since the fall back positions also increase anxiety.
When you reach the inevitable point where you are unwilling to adapt to each other and unwilling to confront yourself, you are trapped in emotional gridlock.
More on emotional gridlock on next post....
Passionate Marriage - Schnarch