Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In it for the long haul...why enthusiasm doesn't always matter.
This week my family celebrated my grandparents 59th wedding anniversary. When I called them to wish them a happy anniversary my grandmother said “Thank you honey” and then she added loud enough to make sure my grandfather heard her “59 years, and 49 or so of them have been wonderful.”
My grandmother had summed up what it takes to make a long term relationship work...Accept the relationship and your partner will not be wonderful all the time. Her joke expressed the compassion my grandparents have for one another.
I asked what her and grandpa did to make it work for 59 years? “I never expected him to be some knight in shining armor and he always put his family in the center,” she responded “you don’t walk away… you talk.”
My grandparents had honest expectations of each other, they figured out how to put their shared values at the center and talked about what they needed that ultimately built a relationship that carried them through their enthusiasm gaps. I think we could learn a lot about how to build consistent civic engagement by looking at long term relationships like my grandparents.
We should equate campaigns to dating. We all know how “the beginning” phase works in dating. You begin dating, you have so many things in common, you overlook “small differences”. You make time for long dinners and longer conversation. You see all the values you share and so many reasons why you’d be better together; and it happens. You choose to live your life together. Now you have to go to work and pay the bills and build a home together. The relationship gets real and it gets hard.
Both, political parties (their candidates) and the voters have failed democracy over the past two years. Voters expected a knight in shining armor and are shocked they didn’t get one. Candidates have failed to put their “family” at the center of their fight and are mad that voters feel left out and not excited.
So here we are, at the real part of the relationship… is the vision of the future enough? Are you going to walk? Or stay and make sure you get your needs met?