Q. How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None. They will just spend the time blaming each other for the failure of the dud one.
As couple counsellors, we are often called upon to try and better understand the power struggle that erupts when partners don’t feel heard or understood by each other.
Couples can talk over one another, score points by attacking each other and loudly dismiss each other’s concerns until a situation becomes so loaded that it is hard for them to understand how they can ever find a peaceful middle ground.
If they reach the point of dissolve, they then often also disagree how best to parent their children.
Employing the same tiring rhetoric, the Dave and Ed election sessions appear to be getting just as fruitless as the couple desperately intent on trying to impress their audiences with just how right they are and how the other is completely muddled.
We, the poor kids in the middle of all this, now have to decide which parent gets our vote. They are both promising lots of treats and explaining how much better life will be if they are the parent making the big decisions about our health, wealth and safety.
Professional rivalry disintegrates into personal rivalry. Currently it’s all getting grubbier by the day. Playground politics rule.
Their couple sessions on TV and in the media are accompanied by each other’s back up friends and relatives. Leaders are only ever pictures clinging onto their spouses to ensure we understand how empathetic and family orientated they both are. Everyone is desperate to show their golden side. The shadows will come later.
Accusations, insults and assassination by media spin. It all gets in the way of the truth which is the same here as it is for our couples.
There is no ‘right’ way. There are two viewpoints to each truth. Sometimes more than two. Reason and compassion should be the main helpmates, but these are in short supply.
Counselling could help, but that would involve the tricky business of really listening, not just waiting to speak.
Currently it’s getting childishly competitive. Voting for the best parental guidance will be a confusing choice for many. Mudslinging just gets tiring and messy for the audience. Will the victor sadly just be the biggest and loudest and the one that can throw the most dirt?
For many in couple therapy feeling victorious can be more important than caring about the other.
The winner takes it all. But will it make them happy?