A major focus on the news of late has been whether or not Gingrich’s marital life choices should be of relevancy to the voter, more so the question looked at women voters, and is it of relevancy to them? At first the overwhelming majority of the guests who appeared on the various news stations reported it “shouldn’t” be of consideration yet “it is” or it “may be” something women are considering in their decision. Post last night’s South Carolina win for Gingrich, we are quickly seeing the various news media reporting not only should it not be of consideration but they are offering that perhaps Gingrich’s infidelities are not as much of a consideration for women as many had thought. Provided below includes this psychotherapist’s insight in its relevancy to the topic of Gingrich Versus Romney, who both appear to be the current front runners for the Republican candidate to run for the president of the U.S.A. The question is; does marriage matter when considering who to choose as the potential next president of the U.S.A.?
There are many factors to consider when determining who to choose for who will run against Obama for the president of the U.S.A. This blog article is not intended to suggest who to vote for, nor to address all of the many political topics to consider. This blog will focus on the one main theme of; marriage, with my intention to share insights from a psychotherapeutic perspective to offer you the voter thoughts to consider and process. Specifically, I will share my insights which come from the lens of a human behavior expert who specializes in marriage and relationship based issues. (Relationships include and are not limited to the relationship we have with one’s; spouse, children, emotional self, professional self, personal growth, colleagues, spiritual self, parents, siblings, and more . . .)
Dr. Karen’s Insights, AKA The Relationship Expert:
Question: Can we learn of a man’s character by observing his relationship with his wife/his marital past and present? Answer: Absolutely yes. We are asking the wrong question. The question is not whether marriage should or does matter, because the answer is that it should and it does, because it tells us about a person’s character, from this psychotherapist’s point of view. Rather the question we should be asking is; what type of character do we as a culture feel would best serve us as a country? This is a serious question, the answer says a lot not just about who we are but what we feel we need as a country. This question does not have such a simple answer, or does it?
It is my analysis that all marriages go through 5 main phases: B.R.A.I.L. It is those phases that are symbolic for who our president will be in his relationship with the public (domestic and foreign) as it is those same 5 marital phases a man will go through in his relationship with himself as president. The 5 phases are as follows:
- Balance- The struggle and journey of balancing what my involvement is as a spouse in whatever life phase and stage I am in, in my professional career as well as what phase and stage of life my wife is in, in her life (health, personal, professional etc). Do I have the skills, passion, and interest in balancing my needs and her needs as well as the needs of our family and our external life responsibilities through the course of marriage? (Do I have the skills, passion, and interest in balancing my needs and the country’s needs through the course of being president?)
- Role- What role do I play in this marriage? (What role do I play in this Country?) As challenges and shifts occur, and differences of opinions are verbalized, is it my role to work through in dialogue hearing one another’s voice or rather find another’s weakness and shut them down where my voice is the only voice heard? (Consider this question from a marriage perspective, then consider the answer if applied as a president). What is my role in my relationship with my significant relationships (e.g., spouse, country)?
- Adjust- Based on information received each day, challenges faced, and life obstacles, how do I adjust to, adapt to, accommodate, and work with those in my life? Do I adjust myself to accommodate what I see those around me need for a successful life (e.g., successful marriage, successful country)? Or, rather do I not adjust, as my methodology of how I exist. Is my life philosophy, how I live, my instinct and character- is it that life is all about me and what I want? Therefore, others have to adjust to what I want and accommodate me. If they are not with me they are against me, therefore I will point out where they are in the wrong, and what they have to do different to adjust to what I want.
- Identity- What is my identity/who am I in relationship to my wife, my family as a whole and each member within that whole? (What is my identity/who am I in relationship to my country as a whole and to the people within my country?) Is my identity one of which I am the leader of my marriage or are we a marital team? Or, is our marriage albeit a team, we each are leaders in our own set of expertise, we each have a voice and therefore each of our voices and needs are considered? Or rather are we not really a team, is this a hierarchy in the true sense of the word and I hold an authoritarian style of command where I am not responsive to my spouse’s needs? My voice is the voice that matters. Therefore if I am not happy with how things are going unless you adapt to my needs, it is I who will then decide to utilize external means for self fulfillment and screw you over in the process. Is my view of marriage authoritative or authoritarian based on my actions over time or is it something other? How will that identity of who I am in relationship to my wife display/play out as president?
- Loyalties- Where are my loyalties and to whom? Are my loyalties to me and only me and I will defend myself to the death even if it injures others along the way? Would I give my right arm to save the person I vowed in sickness and in health I would remain with? Are my loyalties to my wife? (Can wife be considered a metaphor for ‘life’ for ‘country’ or is that a stretch?) Am I trustworthy in character? Being loyal is intertwined with a trustworthy character, is it not? Can my spouse trust me that I am loyal? Can my country trust me that I am loyal? What does loyalty really mean these days?
None of us really know what goes on behind closed doors of anyone’s marriage, certainly not Gingrich’s nor Romney’s. What we do know is if we consider the 5 phases that I have coined as B.R.A.I.L., that a marriage goes through, clearly we recognize that Gingrich does not work through those phases successfully by staying with someone as a teammate throughout time. Romney has been successful in this regard and has remained with his teammate even through the challenges, all marriages have challenges. We can see that the Romney couple presents as a unit of success. A president’s relationship with his country holds much of the same concepts; will he be honest with us, communicate with us or is his style to communicate at us, do we have a voice? The life choices that a husband makes, affects the spouse and the children. Questions such as; does he consider us all, the whole family when he makes his life choices or rather is it about what he wants for himself- this is relevant. This is a similar concept for the president both in domestic issues and foreign. Who is he really loyal to? Who is he considering when he makes his choices? Can he adjust as things happen, confront, utilize his established support team, and conflict resolve? Or rather is his instinct to blame others and utilize external means, even if it hurts his support team in the process?
If we are considering the B.R.A.I.L. concept, through the marital lens of; Romney adjusts based on his role, his identity, and his loyalties, then Gingrich is the flip flopper that many refer to Romney as, not Romney. Who would Romney be as president if we are using the marital relationship as symbolic versus who would Gingrich be? The question for voters is; living a successful B.R.A.I.L. life, is that what we need in a president or do we not need that? What will benefit us? Do we know the answer to that? Do we know what we really need?
Gingrich has been married three times. The first two marriages, he cheated on each of them and married the women he had affairs with. Equally if not more disturbing than the affairs is his quote about the affairs. It is the quote in and of itself, that it appears is not a focus that I believe really says a lot about his character and is the red flag. Gingrich stated;
“There’s no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
From an analytical perspective this quote is so disturbing because it lacks in a man taking full ownership blaming on some level the country and his passion for it, that is why he had an affair. Also he said “things happened” which lacks in taking ownership for his choices and rather “things happened”. Certainly any person who becomes president we would expect he would have passion about the country and therefore work hard. So, I then ask; what types of things are going to “happen” if Gingrich were to become president because presidents do need to work hard, do they not? Affairs do not happen, affairs are choices. I discuss much on affair prevention, the top reasons why they happen, and how to win your spouse back post an affair in sections 5 and 6 in my newest book release available for an autographed copy through my website; Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual.
Let us not forget Gingrich is the only speaker to be disciplined for an ethics violation, is this surprising to anyone? As this blog article suggests, who one is in one’s marriage is symbolic overall in terms of one’s character.
Okay, okay, it does show through in this blog that I do not find Gingrich’s life choices in how he treated his wives tasteful, who could. It is clear I do believe who a man’s character is as a spouse is symbolic for who he is in terms of his character as a person, come on how can you not. Everything we do is a part of our character is it not? It is a fascinating topic, as a person may be quite successful in one’s professional life and have had affairs, the inference of my writings today is not that a man who has had an affair is not going to achieve in his work environment, that is not the inference. The inference is all about character. Hey, a guy who has had affairs may be like-able as a friend, interesting as a colleague, intelligent, a good conversationalist, fun to be with, and successful. Just as a man who remains loyal to his wife may have all of the aforementioned traits. The fact that a man has an affair does not negate the aforementioned, it does say something about his character regardless, it is what it says that one may question- what does that mean for us as a country? Again, this is a character discussion and a statement that it is symbolic and a factor to consider. What I am not voicing my opinion on and I am rather putting out there for you the reader to think about is; which character makes for a better president in terms of what America needs? That is the question to ask yourself.
The question is; are moral standards, ethics, instinctual full ownership of one’s behavior, working as a team with those around you, loyalties, adaptability/adjustment, healthy life balancing skills important to the voters when considering who should be president? Is a man who successfully lives a B.R.A.I.L. lifestyle in his marriage a man who we want and need as president for the U.S.A? Is living a B.R.A.I.L. lifestyle in marriage and as a president what we need or is that what we do not need? I ask you- what is your opinion?
Has anyone ever noticed how arrogant Gingrich comes off in his communications, in his dialogue? He speaks at you not with you. There is no team, unless he wants you to think you are on his team. It is my impression that he is a skilled manipulator of thought. He makes it clear in how he speaks, whatever the topic is, that he is in charge. Even when he is telling you that he cheated on his wife, betrayed her, he makes it clear that she is in the wrong for daring to be angry and hurt and wanting to tell the world about his character, and that the news media, the same media that benefits him to spread what he wants people to hear would dare share the negative – he communicates with such skilled manipulation that you walk away not only seeing his point but feeling he is in the right.
So, where does this leave the voter? A man who will cut others down with pride and skill and believe that he is in the right is the man for us or not the man for us? A man who knows how to fight- dirty that is, is the man for us or not for us? It is human instinct to want to be on the side of the one who presents with strength, as though fighting and pointing fingers is strong- is it? Is that what strength is defined as? Does this behavior subliminally push the voter more and more toward Gingrich when making a decision between two differing personality character styles?
A man who is interested in the voice of the people, is that the man we want? A man who will adapt to the changes around him if viewed from the B.R.A.I.L. philosophy we realize it is a life philosophy, is that what we need? Is a man who is a team-player in his marriage and navigates through life’s challenges remaining loyal, is that the man we want and need? Is that a man of strength? Is that the type of character that would benefit us as a country? Or, are these signs of weakness as a president?
We are living in a culture where recent studies reveal that 50- 60% of married men either already have, are, or will cheat on their wife. Does that simply put Gingrich in the majority and Romney in the minority which forces us as a society and women as a whole to have to become more accepting of this behavior? Does loyalty to wife mean loyalty to life, to country? Is disloyalty to one’s wife also being disloyal to one’s family or is it not intertwined? Is it the minority of man who is really fit to be president? And what makes you fit to be president? Have we as a country become more accepting that politicians as a whole lie and cheat and therefore, let’s pick the guy we think we “know” instead of the guy we are not sure we know assuming they all lie?
Gingrich, many think they “know” and he is labeled by some due to his marital indiscretions as; disloyal, fighter to the death, lacks in ethics. Romney we think we think we “do not know”; what are his views- is he a republican or a democrat? Did he destroy companies or give them jobs? Loyal to his wife is the one thing people think they know but there is so much more they feel they do not know about him which leads to feeling confused. For humans it is instinct to choose what is the “known” even if there are qualities within the known we do not like over the fear of the “unknown”. Feeling confused is far more uncomfortable for people than the known. Under this theory, if Romney hopes to have the opportunity to go up against Obama for who will be the president of the U.S., perhaps he may wish to consider in his public appearances to help Americans get clearer on who he is and what he stands for with strength and conviction. In essence, Romney needs to “get known” and whatever issues are covert make them overt. Under this concept I would assert that he needs a ‘Romney 101’ presentation on all forms of media now and in bulk and with consistency- print media, television commercials, debates (especially in his debates), interviews . . . He needs to break it down to prove why he is the man for the job and not let the smoke and mirrors that Gingrich pulls out like a skilled magician cloud the man Romney is and who he feels would benefit America. My voice is just but one voice from a psychotherapeutic perspective considering just one piece of the puzzle, there is of course oh so much more.
Once a voter is clear on what issues are important to them, and who they feel will best serve our country with regards to significant issues for what our country needs, what then is the final piece of the puzzle to determine who to choose? If both Gingrich and Romney share many of the same points for what they can offer in contrast to Obama, then really what does a voter’s decision come down to between Gingrich and Romney? Personality? Character? What? Who is the best candidate to consider as our next president as voting continues? These are important questions. Let us really think about this because who is the president of the U.S. does matter and each person’s vote counts. Perhaps we need to see more, learn more, process more, consider more, and think more. Having our eyes and ears open as we consider what America needs, and who will best serve that need is what one can do to make the best decision possible.