THE STATE OF OUR UNION: Opinionated MAMA's Perspective on "Keeping It Together"

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When the honeymoon is over and the day-to-day grind of real life begins, it takes a lot of hard work to create a healthy, happy…more perfect…union. Whether we are talking about the state of our country or the state of our own marriage and family, the message is the same. We need to take time to evaluate what is working, what isn’t and figure out how to adjust accordingly. If we are in a dysfunctional relationship it is hard to deal with any problems, big or small. Never mind an economic crisis, healthcare crisis, education crisis, natural disasters, terrorist threats and 2 wars. It is too much. If we go into any relationship expecting it to fail, then it will fail. If we go into it committed to making it work, regardless of the circumstances or the magnitude of the problems, then we have a chance.

There has been a lot of stress on our union in the past couple years.  We certainly don’t need to add to the drama by bickering over everything – big or small – “kitchen sinking” all the time. We’re not bored, so there is no need to stir it up just for the fun of it.  We are a nation that is confused and scared, wondering how we racked up so many bills and let ourself go.  The things we care about seem to be upside down – our homes, our values, you name it.  We look like crap and we feel like crap and we’re taking it out on everyone.  We’re not happy and we’re fighting in front of the kids!  They need to know that we are o.k., that we are committed to each other and we do still love each other, and our American family, so let’s pull it together for the sake of the kids. Remember, it is not just about us…it’s about all of us.

Our country needs to fix the dynamic of our government.  It does not seem to be working for us right now.  There is a lot of posturing and self-serving behavior.  In any healthy relationship, there will be disagreements, but, we need to know that we are all in it to win it.  We can’t be hurling insults, lies and ultimatums. We need to have the same goals and show each other some respect to solve our problems. One person alone cannot make a relationship work.  It takes two. Balance. Give and take.

As moms, we usually take the lead in making sure that everyone checks in with each other from time to time to assess the state of things.  Did you have a good day? Do you want to go out for dinner or stay in? However, if our partner is not receptive, it doesn’t work.  See the parallels?  As our country begins a new political year, we take time to assess as a nation.  What is the state of our union? How is our family really doing?  Are we moving in the right direction?  Are we better off today than we were last January?  Are we happier?  Are we healthier?  Do we feel safer and more secure?  Are we more or less stressed out?  Is it working or not?  It may not be awesome, but, if we want it to be better and we really try to fix it, that’s a start.  If we play head games and draw lines in the sand, we will get nowhere. Attitude is everything. We must be open to actually solving the problems, otherwise, it becomes too hard…we get frustrated, shut down and we stop communicating.

Communication is not just about “talking,” it’s about connecting.  We can communicate with a look, a touch, a gesture, if we are truly connected. If we respect each other and trust each other, then communication is easier. And, as one Opinionated MAMA pointed out, respect and trust are the foundation.  If you have earned eachother’s respect – if you feel it, really feel it – then trust comes and the inverse is true, too.  If you trust that your partner has your family’s best interests in mind at all times, you will respect him for it. Those shared values will get you through the toughest times.  Because, let’s face it, there will be a lot of tough times…and they can bring us closer and stronger, or they will tear us apart.

Today, as we reflect on the solutions for our country, like any relationship, we will determine if it meets our needs.  Can we communicate in an open, honest way?  Do we have the same dreams for our union? Does he get me? Does he challenge me?  Does he listen to me?  Can I trust him?  Am I appreciated?  Do I have the patience to make things work for the long term, or not?  Do we believe that things can really change?  When? How?  Will our children have a better future?

The bottom line is that the President’s speech must translate to a happy home for our family…our American family.  A place where we feel respected, valued, loved and appreciated…where we are comfortable, happy, healthy, safe and secure.  Because if our house is broken (or we no longer have a roof over our head) then we won’t be able to focus on much else. We wake up every day and we have a choice…to work at it, or not. Like Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Good advice for us as moms and for us as a nation.  Because in both regards, if we are committed to making our union work, for better or for worse, then we will be okay.

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