Last fall’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Rally on the Washington DC Mall to “Restore Sanity and/or Fear” reminded me of the intentional effort many couples make to bring love and connection back into their own relationships, after a period of disconnection.
Think of the extreme bi-partisan divide between the political parties in the U.S. today as the same dynamic that occurs between dysfunctional couples: both are deaf to the other’s viewpoint; both are yelling at the same time; both are “right” in their own minds; both sometimes resort to name-calling; and both are crying for help (even though they do not always recognize the conflict they are in as a cry) and begging to be heard, understood, and embraced. The Rally web page told attendees to bring their “indoor voices,” adding to the hoped-for civility of reasonable discourse. Indoor voices aide in helping another hear us.
One of the rally’s repeated messages was that we are not listening to each other as a country. Imago Relationship Therapy helps couple learn how to be present and how to hear the truth under the words of their words. Stewart emphasized this point saying, “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”
The Washington, DC rally ended peacefully and inconclusively. That is often the way with a couple’s repair efforts: they feel closer, but nothing specific is decided. Yet they do feel closer. Why is that? Maybe it is because, as Stewart said at the end of the rally, “Your presence is what I wanted.” When we are present to another, we listen, we put our own agenda and issues on hold for the time, we bring an attitude of curiosity and interest to the conversation, and in turn, we help the other feel loved and experienced.
Harville Hendrix, founder of the Imago Relationship theory, stated that the world could heal and peace could be achieved, one couple at a time, through the work of accepting and honoring “otherness.”