Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Many years ago I was part of a 5-a-side football team. The standard was very poor (and I did nothing to raise it), but the team spirit was excellent. Why was this? Well, it was all down to the organiser and captain who I shall call Fred, an abnoxious little man, universally disliked by the whole team.
It was fortunate that Fred was not a drinking man because after our usual defeat on the pitch the rest of the team would gather in the pub to talk about Fred and whatever ridiculous and annoying things he had said or done that week. Our dislike of the man united us, and whatever differences might otherwise have been apparent in the team were insignificant in comparison to our universally negative opinions about Fred.
Though it was fun at the time, in retrospect I suppose it was a bit mean of us – Fred worked hard to make sure we had a team every week, and did no real harm – but leaving that aside, it is interesting to reflect on the unity Fred inadvertently managed to produce.
Having a common enemy can be an incredibly strong force. Revolutions are built on it. The French and Russian revolutions (though my historical knowledge is admittedly hazy) targeted the aristocracy, Nazism focused on the Jews, and now, on the morning that Donald Trump was elected as US President, I think perhaps he has managed to do the same thing with more of a scattergun approach.
But ignoring Trump for a second (I doubt that will be easy in the next few years) and turning my thoughts to relationships, I think that unity is incredibly important. Typically when we start out on a relationship – even in the first few dates – we’ll be exploring to find out what common ground exists between us. Do we like the same things as each other? Do we share the same views? The same sense of humour? Without a certain amount of commonality, the relationship is very unlikely to thrive.
We probably make the relationship a long term one with common ends in sight – a shared vision of the future, but of course as time goes on couples can find that they change, in individual ways. This can mean that the shared vision no longer exists, and partners can find themselves living day to day, following a routine, without a common goal and without the “travelling companion” who their partner once was.
Acrimony and arguments can develop when partners have different views on parenting, on finances or politics, or on how to spend their time. Without that long-term vision the atmosphere can easily become hostile – couples can become enemies rather than allies.
If this has happened to you it can be helpful to find a common enemy – a “Fred”. Fred doesn’t have to be an actual person, he might instead be something like “anger” or “blame”. But having a Fred can re-unite couples, who can acknowledge the need to work together to overcome the anger in the relationship. With a common enemy, you are automatically on the same side, and once you are on the same side, almost anything is possible.
Is there a Fred in your life?