When James Madison, the principal architect of the U.S. constitution, crafted the constitution, he envisioned a non-partisan nation.
Alexander Hamilton helped Madison to market the constitution and they created the Federalist papers. But when Hamilton became Treasury Secretary, he wanted to create a central bank and a trade economy. This infuriated Madison, who wanted an agriculture-based economy with minimal trade.
The two went from being partners to being opponents and party politics (in the U.S.) were born.
Delilah was born three years after they got married. They both wanted children. Delilah was a colicky baby. She also had trouble latching on to breastfeed.
Gertrude suffered from post-partum depression. Sam had trouble dealing with the changes in their relationship.
Gertrude and Sam started fighting more and more. The stuff that used to just roll off their backs trigger epic screaming matches.
Sam and Gertrude’s differences all came to the surface simultaneously: she wanted to raise Delilah with religion and Sam didn’t. Sam gave Delilah ice cream and Gertrude wanted to maintain a strict sugar-free diet. Sam wanted to travel and Gertrude wanted to save for Delilah’s college.
The only thing they could consistently agree on was that they loved their daughter.
When couples are polarized, they unconsciously let the other hold views so that they don’t have to deal with them themselves. It is a solution for ambivalence, but it comes at a price.
If one partner takes on the role of the planner and the other partner is carefree and spontaneous, and their roles become polarized so that they planner feels she can never let her hair down because her partner won’t take responsibility, and the carefree partner feels there’s no point in trying to plan because he will never be good enough, they will move further and further apart and blame each other for the situation.
If the planner is able to own her role in keeping her partner the way he is, and is able to work on relinquishing some control and also connecting to her own need to have fun, this will help her to move toward the center.
If the carefree partner sees how his avoidance triggers his partner and own his need to feel more responsible, it will help him move closer to the center.
For example, even though millions of republicans have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act and the elimination of pre-existing conditions, all most republicans in congress talk about is repealing and replacing Obamacare instead of working together to make it better.
Neither side wants to give the other a win. They are both entrenched in their positions, rendering them incapable of compromise and change.
What can we do about a marriage where neither partner is willing to come to the table and own their part?
I fear that only some sort of catastrophe will act as a catalyst, but even that would only temporarily create unity if the underlying issues aren’t addressed.
We need more individuals like Senators Collins, Murkowski and McCain that were willing to stand up for what they believed was best for people in spite of it being in conflict with the stance of their party.
We need congress to sit in on a session with Gertrude and Sam, to see how they are able to work at understanding and owning what they are each bringing to the table, because they have a shared commitment to each other and to their daughter.
When ego gratification and winning overshadow this shared commitment, a culture of polarization and deprivation takes over. When this happens, everyone loses.