Politics As A Template For Relationships

March 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

This week, John McCain, the senator and the former candidate for the Presidency, who returned to the senate after being defeated by Barack Obama, was so incensed at the Democrats for pushing through a health care reform bill, that he thought it was unwise legislation, that he said he was through working with the Democrats. “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year”, he stated.

Part of McCain’s popularity that brought him the Republican Presidential nomination when it was clear he was not the darling of the Republican leaders, was the feeling by the moderate Republicans who supported him in the primaries that he was a highly principled conciliator. That he could find a way to take his personal positions and by moderating them and finding a voice in the Democratic Party similarly inclined, he could move the country forward. His record in the Senate proved that, he ran on that, he received the nomination and he almost won the election in a year where a broken economy should have insured an easy Democratic victory.

Now, let’s talk about a relationship like a marriage or a friendship or a business partnership. Let’s assume one of the parties in the relationship does something that the other finds completely onerous. Let’s use cheating in a marriage as our topic. I am using it as an example because of the BIG business that is today in the media with Tiger Woods, Sandra Bullock, John Edwards moving from page 6 to page 1 in the newspapers. Is marriage doomed? Are years of living together, sharing love, children, major life events simply anecdotes in the relationship to be swept away by a cheating mate?

Maybe. It all depends on where the parties are in their relationship when the information is revealed. It depends on how both parties feel about the structure they built together and whether it’s worth saving.

One thing is sure. If one party in the relationship says the equivalent of “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year” or some other statement or position that shuts the door to talking together, working together, analyzing cause, seeing whether the relationship is salvageable, the relationship is indeed over. But, if the parties take a breath, give it a moment, then see if after the initial shock there is still enough left of the structure to work together and change the dynamics, there is hope. If there is a way to find building blocks to a rejuvenated relationship with the possibility of new happiness and new dividends, then keeping your mouth shut, or at least watching what you say and controlling what you feel may be worthwhile.

How John McCain, who clearly loves his country, can make a statement like the one I quoted is perplexing. Certainly, if, for the good of the country, he can find a way to cooperate, he should. I think he will. How the life of Tiger Woods and his wife unfolds is personally none of my business. But how people in general deal with each other in times of stress is my business. I don’t want to live in a world where people can’t take a breath and suppress their anger enough to try to find a rational solution to their problems. That world is an unpleasant and frankly a dangerous one in which to live.

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