Avoiding Appeasement

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15

Marriage experts have discovered some common communication patterns that are detrimental to communication. One such pattern is what is sometimes called the Dove. In this pattern, one partner placates the other in order to avoid his or her wrath. It’s the “peace at any price” syndrome. Typical statements from a Dove are “That’s fine with me” or “Whatever makes you happy makes me happy.”

Doves are always trying to appease the other person, often apologizing for things that may have upset the partner, no matter how insignificant. They almost never disagree with their spouse openly, no matter how they feel. Often the Dove pattern grows out of low self-esteem. The placater may think, My ideas are not worth anything, so why express them? He or she may also fear the spouse’s response to disagreement.

It should be obvious that this pattern of communication does not build authentic marriages. Honesty honors God and reflects his image. Psalm 31:5 even refers to the Lord as “the God of truth” (niv). We must learn to speak the truth—with grace and in love, to be sure, as the apostle Paul encourages in the verse above—but we must speak the truth.

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