The Washington Post called to interview me this week on how a marriage counselor sees the Congressional impasse. When it comes to major conflict, both couples and government officials are most effective when they:
1. Refrain from blaming;
2. Focus on creating a shared future;
3. Avoid seeking advice from people who are more likely to undermine than to support their union; and
5. Find time to share some positive experiences despite some hefty differences.
While I’m on this subject, here’s a word on how you may be feeling right now if you grew up in a home where the adults were not acting like adults. I mean they were neglectful, or drunk, or abusive. Or they fought a lot. If that was your experience, the government shutdown may be all too unpleasantly familiar. (Here’s a lively account from the inimitable Anne Lamott.) It wouldn’t be surprising if the shutdown triggered some anxiety. As a child, you had little to no control over your situation. You were just too small. It was overwhelming. Today, despite the situation in Washington, things are different. You have resources (and power at the polls). Turn off the TV and go for a walk in the park or try a guided meditation. If you are having trouble sleeping, find that you are irritable, down or intensely anxious, seek professional help. This may well be your chance to discover deep-down healing.