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Beyond the Fiscal Cliff

Beyond the Fiscal Cliff

It’s not only the politicians who dig in their heels, unwilling to compromise.


I think most Americans are sick of politics and politicians. The country’s future is at stake and both sides (this is a nonpartisan piece; in fact it’s not really a political piece at all!) seem more focused on proving a point or adhering to their position than they are to finding a solution. Both sides seem to prefer digging in their heels over compromise. Being right seems more important than working together. In the process, they are driving this nation closer and closer to the Fiscal Cliff. We are teetering on the edge.

The rest of us are watching in horror. It is not democracy’s best moment. “How could they allow this to happen?” “How could they behave like this?” We shake our heads in disgust and dismay.

But perhaps this political stalemate is reflective of a deeper issue. Perhaps, instead of focusing outward on Barak Obama and John Boehner, we should turn the spotlight back on ourselves, on our relationships, and particularly on our marriages.

How many of them are also teetering on the edge because we dig in our heels, unwilling to compromise since “we’re right”?

Being right is a lonely place to be. It’s not worth the price of your friendship, your relationship with your children, your marriage.

It’s not just our politicians that need to learn the art of compromise; we need to study it as well. Many of us recognize the need for compromise in our workplace. We are skilled negotiators when it comes to closing deals and reaching settlements. Why do we park all those skills at the door when we arrive home? Why do we take a rigid stance in situations where the stakes are so much greater?

Our frustration with our politicians should teach us something. They are not a different species. Their behavior is something we are all prone to.

Have you ever gotten into an argument with your husband and refused to budge? Perhaps even stopped speaking to him? Whose needs does that serve? Certainly not yours. (There’s something perverse at play here – we’re mad about not communicating properly with the person we love, so we stop communicating all together?) Your goal is greater closeness and understanding. That certainly can’t be accomplished if you aren’t talking.

The arts of compromise and communication are the keys to a successful marriage and close relationships.

Have you ever gotten frustrated with your wife because she doesn’t agree with all your ideas? Do you go off to your easy chair to sulk? That is also an ineffective strategy.

Assuming the goal is marital harmony, you need to speak to each other. You need to actually listen to each other (let’s hope the politicians are reading this!) You need to let some things go; not everything is worth fighting over, not all issues are that important. You need to compromise – no one gets everything they want. You need to recognize that being right is not an end in and of itself; that the marital unit needs to be greater than its parts. You need to (dare I say it?) put your spouse’s needs first (fill in the “country” here, not the opposing party!).

If we can’t do this, our marriages (and friendships) will God forbid fall apart (I’m worried about our country too). Our marriages can’t wait until we’re on the edge of the cliff, until we’ve said too many harsh words, been “right” too many times, stalked off in stubborn silence until our partner gives in. The arts of compromise and communication are the keys to a successful marriage and close relationships. If our politicians can’t get it right, let’s work on teaching them a thing or two.

December 31, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Tommy, January 6, 2013 3:44 AM

So true .... A wonderful piece of wisdom!

Thank you Emuna!

(6) Aliza, January 3, 2013 12:14 AM

thank you

thanks for a great article, I appreciated the twist from fiscal cliff to marriage, because I an't change politicians but I can improve the way I treat my husband, i can learn to compromise more often.. thank you !

(5) Katy, January 2, 2013 1:08 PM

Well spoken...

In the aftermath of a lengthy debate, your words are Wisdom. In a couple of months when another deadline looms, we will have another chance to practice your advice. Maybe practice will make us better. Thank you.

(4) Anonymous, January 2, 2013 2:55 AM


Thank you Emuna!

(3) Yochanan, January 1, 2013 6:48 PM

Good points but...

Very good points and I do agree our leaders reflect greater problems jn our nation. But... The fiscal cliff is a result of a previous agreement to raise the debt. Kind of like a husband or wife agreeing to cuts a few things in the future, but getting a bigger credit card, where the interest they pay is .46 cents of every dollar they earn. They own businesses and also agree to raise prices on all their goods. At the cliffs edge, they know this is going to hurt their customers and even worse - they need a bigger credit card and their debt keeps going up. Eventually they will no longer be able to raise their pricess enough to pay for their out of control spending habits. What does one do when their interest is 100% of what they take in? No more food or anything for them. Knowing they are facing this, even if they agree to go on like this, it is to certain doom.

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