Monday, December 12, 2016


The downfall of many relationships is the entrenchment of two or more personalities who are unable or unwilling to compromise. This concept in divorce law is called "irreconcilable differences". It is a propensity of many human beings to resist compromise. This is most likely due to primal aggression, triggered by hormonal and subsequent brain responses to subconsciously or consciously perceived threats. The old fight-or-flight thing in various degrees.

The key to maintaining any peaceful relationship over time is the conscious and intentional recognition/discussion of potentially irreconcilable differences before the triggering of a flight or fight response. In sexual relationships, for example, lack of intercourse is a marker. If a relationship is based in sexual attraction initially, it is likely that there will be issues over time with that sexual relationship. Most of us fall subject to the old adage, "Familiarity breeds contempt.". Put more tactfully, our brains/nerves become desensitized to the familiar and non-threatening. Going from cuddle to orgasm usually demands some exciting stimulation. If the brain/nerves are desensitized to the familiar smells, tastes, touch of a routine partner, that acceleration from cozy to orgasmic is lacking. It's just chemistry, literally.  

In this light, perhaps irreconcilable differences are simply healthy cues to a mindful brain, not necessarily overwhelming triggers for conflict or separation. A wake-up call to get creative and change routine behaviors. Relationship therapists use this concept frequently. The problem with this process is that it requires ongoing change as sustained treatment of boredom, a symptom of other processes in a relationship. Once creativity is introduced into a stale relationship, the partners display their capacity for creativity and change. That capacity is seldom equally matched. If it were from the beginning, the need to use creativity as intervention to keep the relationship alive wouldn't have been necessary. Long-lasting relationships are built on sustained inventiveness (or stultified depression and/or dependency, in some cases). 

The recent election of Donald Trump, in my opinion, is an attempt by a large portion of the American voting population to work past irreconcilable differences between the cultural status quo and their cultural bias. Many who voted for Trump have openly stated that they acknowledge his unpredictability and potential instability, but, they say, they voted for him to throw a wrench into the machinery of the status quo. While this may parallel a Mennonite constructing a B&D dungeon in his basement to invigorate his marriage, it does speak to the level of dissatisfaction in the relationship between those voters and the prevailing media-fueled culture as it now stands. 

Countries and populations can be like large extended families which break up into clannish subgroups. If irreconcilable differences simmer under the surface long enough, a brawl at a wedding or funeral is inevitable. Sometimes the brawl, like a military skirmish on a larger scale, brings issues to light that can be dealt with around a peace table. More often skirmishes escalate into outright war. Once aggression and violence rise up to defend the opposing sides of perceived irreconcilable differences, you have the Israeli-Palestinian or Russian-Ukrainian relationship of chronic conflict built upon resentment and revenge. 

I believe there is a line between the "It's all good" miasma of the current regressive-Progressive media culture in America and the "Make America Great Again" culture of the Alt-Right and Trumpeters. This line hardened during the recent election into what may seem now to be irreconcilable differences. I think it will take more than making deals, the famous Trump mantra, or bestowing unrealistic "justice" to every minority who feel victimized to pass through those potentially irreconcilable differences to some creative compromise. In the past, Americans chose a bloody Civil War through their misguided political leaders. The Sexual Revolution and Peace Movement of the 1960's-1970's proposed another solution: Make love, not war. Somewhere in that past may be a clue to a solution to the current impasse and to keeping the culture of America relatively healthy and happy for everyone. 

The great lesson of September 11, 2001 for me was this: The differences in American society melted away after an attack by an unknown external force on America's materialist icon, Manhattan. A violent attack on the prosperity and material comfort of Americans is one sure way to bring us together and put the sex back into our enthusiasm for our nation. The great challenge of our day is to step above that level of violence and revenge to a better creative solution to our differences. If we manage to do this, our differences will not be irreconcilable. They will be the stimuli which make us stronger as a nation. 

1 comment:

  1. The fact that many people who reported themselves concerned by the idea of a Trump presidency, nevertheless, also voted for him is a puzzler. It may be, indeed, that a large number of Americans wanted Trump to shake up a system that they also expected to protect them from the recklessness of a man like Trump.

    What is ironic is that Trump and Clinton in many respects - though his style was/is certainly not one of them - share similar backgrounds: cosseted, more or less from the same generation, given to bullheadedness and both thick as thieves with the corporate and financial elites least interested in solving the problems of middle class and poor Americans. Perhaps Hillary's biggest drawback was that she didn't grow a huge pair of incisors, snort steam and spew bullshit and leave women, LGBTs and African Americans for another day.

    However, no matter who we voted for, all of us are going to have to wait together to watch our new president get his massive infrastructure bills through Congress, along with big tax cuts.

    Mrs. Clinton and her demerits are history. So, on to President Trump, who is OUR president now....and let us hope that he and we can stop the posturing and (to steal a phrase) "hasten slowly" together through that carnival chuck-a-luck game that is the evolving future of the 1st World.