As the Houston marriage therapist, I’ve seen it far too many times. Couples schedule an appointment with me but, when they come in, they are completely silent and sit on opposite ends of the couch. As I ask them about their problems and why they decided to seek relationship help, I’ll notice that they never speak directly to each other or even look at each other.
But it’s not anger. Anger you would expect—even invite. After all, this is an emotional thing to go through. Instead, I see boredom and impatience. They’re not here to fix any problems—they just want to be able to check off the imaginary box that says, “I tried. Went to couples counseling.”
I bring all of this up now because I just read a fantastic CNN article that details the dysfunctional relationship between Democrats and Republicans and posits the idea of giving them relationship therapy in order to get them actually working together again. What struck me about the article was how dead-on the discussion was in terms of our political parties matching the interactions of a distressed couple.
Houston Marriage Therapist: It Can’t Be About Winning
When couples argue, it can’t be about winning because that just causes annoyance, resentment, and other negative feelings to build. It’s difficult to be happy with someone who is always trying to defeat you and prove that they are right, regardless of what the argument is about.
Politicians in our country have reached the same point, literally arguing over who started it instead of stepping back and talking about what the real issues are. Maybe they don’t have to be happy for each other like couples should but they do have to continue to work together. You can’t work with someone who no longer sees it as his or her responsibility to help but rather to win the argument.
They Need Common Ground, Says Houston Marriage Therapist
The best relationship help that someone could give the two parties right now would be to find a way to get them on common ground. In these days of constant bickering, it doesn’t seem like that exists but it’s no different than what couples counselors do with constantly bickering clients. The common ground is there, you just have to find it. Or, in the case of our political leaders, trick or shame them into admitting it. Once that happens, you can start with that single point of agreement and work outward, building bridges of understanding.
If you’re starting to feel like your relationship is on rockier ground than that of our country’s leaders, maybe it’s time to speak with the Houston marriage therapist.