Sunday, 16 May 2010

Cameron & Clegg - Relationships in Action

The recent coming-together of the Conservatives and LibDems in the UK has given us all a lot to think about. In particular, it highlights the difficulties of being together with someone (or some party of people) with whom you feel less-than-loving.

This is often the situation in the therapy room with a couple. When tempers flare or resentments run deep, there is a real threat to the bedrock of the relationship.

Cameron and Clegg have recently had to go through a tough process... they've had to put aside, at least temporarily, their resentments and differences - in favour of a new priority, "the national interest". Both parties must now realise that their selfish interests might not be best for the nation. This shared project, the nation's future, is now dependent on a relationship to which they must contribute.

This process is similar to what the behavioural-systems therapists call "Decentring"...that is, putting your resentment to one side, and accepting responsibility for your part in the relationship (and of course, your part of the problem).
So, Mr or Mrs X, who arrives saying "well, it's him/her over there who really needs sorting out....." has to finally own up to being part of the problem (transaction). It can be a very difficult first step, but it's the best way to start the journey of maintaining a good relationship.

Of course, it can still go wrong. Watch out in the future - if the new 'coalition' breaks up, it might be accompanied by lots of angry protests and finger pointing at the other side. The mutually responsible position is easily lost.