Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted May 29, 2010

Published in Lifestyle

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What Can "Meet The Press" Teach Us About Our Personal Relationships?

Read More: communication, happiness, honesty, relationships, self-improvement, success, trust, well-being

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On this past Sunday's "Meet the Press", host David Gregory was interviewing U.S. Senator John Cornyn in regard to the controversy surrounding U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul.

According to Sen. Cornyn, Rand Paul had "clarified his views" about the Civil Rights Act and, therefore, there was nothing further to talk about. David Gregory, not satisfied with this response, asked Sen. Cornyn if he agreed with Rand Paul's views. Sen. Cornyn dodged the question.

David Gregory asked Sen. Cornyn if he thought that Rand Paul was worse off now having said what he said. Sen. Cornyn again dodged the question. David Gregory made a third attempt to get Sen. Cornyn to answer a direct question, but the Senator would not do it.

Senator Cornyn gave the impression that he was engaged in a meaningful dialogue, while actually stonewalling David Gregory's efforts to get an honest answer from him rather than a contrived, spin doctored response.

David Gregory, appreciating the fact that Sen. Cornyn was not going to answer a direct question, finally moved onto his next guest, the end result being an interview that was relatively meaningless. Because no real pressure was put on Sen. Cornyn to reveal his truth and where he personally stood on the issues, no truth was gotten from him.

Bottom line: If we don't insist that our politicians be held accountable and tell the truth, our world will not change.

How does this apply to our personal relationships?

If we don't insist that our partners be held accountable and tell the truth, our relationships will not change either.

To be sure, what happened on "Meet the Press" happens a lot in our personal relationships. When we question our partners about actions of theirs which we have a problem with, in an attempt to discover their thoughts, feelings and motives, and in an effort to get them to be accountable for their actions, they oftentimes do the same thing as Sen. Cornyn.

They dodge the question. They spin doctor their answer. They try to distract us by pointing out things that are irrelevant, by focusing on one part of our question and avoiding the part that really matters.

They change the subject. They accuse us of something seemingly similar in an attempt to get themselves off the hot seat. They get defensive and angry, hoping to intimidate us so that we will back down. They do everything in their power to not answer the question and not be held accountable.

Like on "Meet The Press", we tend to do the same thing as David Gregory. We ask several times for truth and when we see that we're not going to get it, we give up. The end result is that our frustrations, our resentments, and our hurt feelings linger. The relationship remains unsatisfying.

What can we do about this?

We can confront our partners and insist on the truth. We can tell them that not answering our questions directly and honestly is unacceptable. We can tell them that their efforts to avoid a meaningful dialogue threatens the integrity of the relationship.

We can tell them that if this behavior continues we cannot guarantee that the relationship will continue because we don't want to waste our time and our lives on people unwilling to disclose the truth and take responsibility for their actions.

Easier said than done.

Most of us will not make the above ultimatum of sorts because we perceive the benefits of the relationship outweighing the downsides of intermittent (sometimes quite frequent) disrespectful, unloving, dishonest and abusive behaviors.

If we have invested a lot in the relationship, we tend to have an unwillingness to make an ultimatum and jettison the relationship if our demands aren't met. We may not like it but we accept and tolerate the fact that our partner is unlikely to change. Truth be told, we'd much rather be in the relationship than be alone looking for a new partner and perhaps never finding one.

This is certainly understandable. Each of us much decide for ourselves what we are willing to compromise and/or give up in order for a relationship to endure.

Let it be said, however, that if we have the courage to confront our partners and insist upon truth and integrity, and be willing to walk away if our partners can not conform to these basic (and not unreasonable) demands, there is the possibility that our partners will take us seriously, rise to the occasion, and work with us to develop a truly nurturing and satisfying relationship.

Of course, there is also the possibility that our partners will be unwilling or unable to stop their manipulative and dishonest game playing, in which case, should we choose to move on, we may discover a future waiting for us, with or without another partner appearing, that is rewarding, empowering, and worth the painful steps we took to allow it to manifest itself.