We are now in the lame duck season of congress where the elections are over yet the newly elected do yet occupy their seats. It is strange time where focus shifts and both power and repercussions are reduced. It can be an uneventful waiting period or an enthused dash to create change prior to one’s exit without the fear of reelection influencing decisions.
I’ve had discussions with several married people recently who seem to be in a lame duck session within their marriages. They are in the between – waiting in the space bookended by the past and the future. Perhaps one or both partners does not see themselves as reelected for the next term so they are simply biding their time. Maybe one partner desperately want action yet is fighting the sluggish nature of the other who not committed to an additional stint of marriage. It is natural for relationships to ebb and flow, to encounter both periods of growth and times of stagnation. In a lame duck marriage, the stagnation has become a way of being.
We often think of lame duck sessions as a negative event, a wasted waiting period before the congress can get down to business. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. There are benefits to the lame duck season in Washington that can also apply to flat and lifeless marriages. This is not advice to leave or stay in a lame duck marriage. Rather, it is designed to give you perspective that can help you make the best decision for you and your family.
In congress, some retiring members try to push through controversial or challenging legislation that would be inadvisable when they are concerned about reelection. There is freedom that can be found in the realization that you are not operating out of fear for the future. Try something new. Take risks. You know what happens when you do or think the same old way. What you don’t know is the response to something different.
One of the most frustrating parts of this time in Washington is that it can be almost impossible to rally the troops around a cause. Lame duck marriage are similar. If you want the marriage to work and your spouse is ready to end his or her term, you will most likely find it impossible to rally your partner to save the marriage. If you are walking towards the door and your spouse wants another term, you will likely find him or her stubbornly digging in the heels. You cannot control your partner. You can; however, choose your actions, thoughts, and responses. You may find that you have more influence by treading softly and encouraging than by being loud and resistant.
Inevitably, congress gets to November and has more to discuss than there are hours available. They have to begin their final session for the year by prioritizing concerns. In a declining marriage, it is all too easy to become buried in issues. Sort out the ones that really matter and focus on those first. Ignore the secondary concerns; they are simply clutter.
The government’s lame duck session has a defined end. That deadline prompts action. Remaining inactive in your marriage is a decision in itself, a choice to do nothing. If you had a deadline, what would it change? Would you make a different choice? A lame duck is not a dead duck, but if you let it linger it will suffer and slowly deteriorate.
Don’t let yourself be like a retiring congressman simply passing away the hours until January; choose to be an active participant in your life. And, if you have any tips on nursing a lame duck back to health, make sure to pass them along:)