October 4th, 2012 11:51 EST
Three Simple Words 'I Love YOU' Aim for American`s Hearts --and Votes
Noted psychologist Dr Judy Kuriansky scores the Presidential candidates on their love appeal
A fresh perspective on the Obama/Romney race for the Presidency, aside from all the political pundits, comes from respected clinical psychologist and well known couples counselor Dr. Judy Kuriansky.
Issues - like jobs, taxes and war -- surely affect how people vote, but research shows that people cast their ballot based on emotional reactions to candidates<` says Dr. Judy. Some political analysts have posed that the both the Republican and Democratic conventions have left people confused about whether the party in power has created more jobs or fewer, and unsure about the answer to the question, Are you better off now than four years ago? Since the facts are confusing, how did the candidates stack up with regard to feelings?
In revealing personal aspects of their marriage and family life in their convention speeches, the candidates seduce us by making us yearn for the aspects of a healthy relationship, says the therapist who has counseling thousands of couples and given radio call-in advice for years. Here`s how the candidates scored on dimensions of healthy relationships, outlined in her popular book, The Compete Idiots Guide to a Healthy Relationship:
* Heart. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney`s opening comments in his campaign acceptance speech at the Republican National convention in Tampa Florida August 30th defined his running mate Paul Ryan first as a man with a big heart and later as a caring leader, earning him a 7. Surveys show that top personality qualities women seek in a partner is caring. Just as the heart provides essential life blood, a big heart indicates highly desirable generosity and compassion. These qualities humanize Ryan as well as Romney himself, highlighting softer, loving traits.
* Unconditional love. Romney`s definition of his parents` unconditional love, as if straight out of a psychology textbook, is an exceptionally powerful 10 as the best foundation parents can provide for a child`s growth, self esteem and confidence in pursuing their dreams. My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all " the gift of unconditional love, " he said. They cared deeply about who we would BE, and much less about what we would DO.
Such support is often out of adults` reach, constricted by criticisms and judgments, yet it is an ideal to strive for. In parenting with unconditional love, disapproval can be directed at a behavior, not who they child IS. Similarly, love between partners should not depend on what you look like, earn, do or say, but be extended for who you are inside as a person.
* Love. Love heals and nurtures. All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers, said Romney, earning a 10 for elevating love over power or rules.
If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family" and God`s love -- this world would be a far more gentle and better place. Indeed, putting children to bed, and waking them up, with a cheerful and loving spirit, prepares them to grow up being kind and peaceful adults. Couples should do the same for each other, to be better able to face inevitable stresses of the day. Loving and feeling loved reduces anger that fuels aggression and the need for containing undesirable behaviors in rules and regulations.
* Romance. All couples want to know the secret to an enduring relationship and love-life. In his acceptance speech, Romney revealed the secret to his parents` enduring 64- year marriage, evidenced by the sweet gesture of the rose left daily by his father for his mother (a tip worth at a sweet 6). A calendar of romantic acts is one of the many tips outlined in The Complete Idiots Guide to A Healthy Relationship, including simple daily romantic words or actions, like a loving note tucked in a briefcase or lighting a candle over dinner.
* Partnership. Achieving true partnership, being there for each other, is one of the true tests of love outlined in The Complete Idiots Guide to a Healthy Relationship. " Romney provided a topnotch 10 example, of this, describing that when his mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way. Such support is an excellent role model for all American couples.
* Respect. Respect for, and honoring of, women, evident in Romney adoring his mother`s beautiful voice, in his hiring women, appreciating the value of his wife Ann`s role as mother (even in contrast to his own job " as breadwinner), and also his adoration of and loyalty to her in times of trouble. The image of Romney hugging his wife Ann as they heard her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, is a true 10 " display of a healthy relationship, in stark contrast to pervasive unfaithfulness suffered by so many American couples (and certainly to the betrayal of a previous high-level political candidate in the face of his wife`s tragic struggle with cancer). Fulfilling the promise of being loyal in sickness and in health " is a fundamental characteristic of a deeply loving, long-lasting and healthy relationship. Such loyalty inspires trust -- shown by surveys to be the top 10 quality desired by couples and essential for a healthy relationship.
* Deep connection. Creating a sense of family provides a secure foundation to grow and function in today`s stressful world. In the face of all-too-common high divorce rates and fractured families, few can resist the endearing image of a parents` bed invaded by five rambunctious young sons, as Romney described one of the joys of parenthood for he and wife Ann (evoking an image worth at least a 6). Short of that ideal, couples can create extended families to develop deep connectedness that contribute to thriving.
President Barack Obama didn`t have to say much about his marriage to wife Michelle, in his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination on September 6th in Charlotte, because wife Michelle did it all for him. Her widely touted speech two days earlier delivered a public love letter likened to none in the history of Presidential conventions and certainly of any souse`s speech. In her testimonial to her husband, dispelling any rumors of tension behind White House walls, she said, Today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago...even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met. And she used a magic 10 word that seals a healthy relationship, according to hundreds of surveys: trust. I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he`s going to do, even when it`s hard " especially when it`s hard, she said.
The First Lady also praised unconditional love " from her parents, just as did Romney the week before. The use of this professional term, so soon after Romney`s use of the same, made me wonder whether she or her speechwriters knew the positive psychological impact that allusion would have. It earns a 7 that would be a 10 " if elaborated in more than a passing word and if meant also for her husband.
With such a testimonial, Obama himself didn`t need to say as much directly about his wife and marriage as Romney. He needed only to open with a solid affirmation of love, that therapists recommend to all couples: turn to your partner directly and say how you feel.
*Love declarations: Michelle, I love you so much, Obama said, looking directly at his wife in the front row. These three simple, magic words " I love you" are what so many women desperately want to hear their man say, directly to them. They`re also the three magic words so many men and women fear saying, or forget to say after years of being together. The words are made even more powerful, worth 10+ or at least 12 points, by adding so much " and by using the person`s name, as Obama did, saying Michele, I love you so much. "
Obama scored higher than Romney in his opener, by addressing his wife first, instead of first pointing out the positive qualities of his running mate.
*Appreciation: Continuing his avowal to his wife, and letting us all in on it, the President continued, A few nights ago, everyone was reminded just what a lucky man I am. Such recognition is a partners dream. As therapists advise, bump up your appreciation with using additional simple, but magic, words: how lucky you are. Adding a 7, the more you let everyone know how lucky you are to have your partner is, the more she glows from being so adored and valued.
Now, the President could go on to look directly into the camera to in the rest of his speech to entice us " the American voters--- into a relationship with him, with healthy qualities.
*Recognition. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and praised for what they contribute to a relationship and that they provide a valuable and valued support in their partner`s life. The President did that deftly, in saying (It) wasn`t about me. It was about you and continuing, You`re the reason (a young man reached his dream.. a young girl could stay home, a soldier can love anyone), earning a 7 for evoking imagery of reaching dreams, being home, loving whom you choose, pulls at heartstrings.
*Need. In saying I`m hopeful because of you, the President expressed a dependence that is healthy in a relationship. Couples crave knowing that they`re needed. His appeal was even more direct in saying, So help me. [recruit a hundred thousand math and science teachers within 10 years and improve early childhood education]. Worth at least a 6, people want to be asked to help.
*Partnership. What Romney described in his parent`s marriage, Obama expressed to us. I`m proud of what we`ve accomplished together, he said, drawing us in, reassuring that we will pull each other up. It`s worth another 6. Being given credit, and being reassured of being part of a team in success intensifies a bond.
*Other words and phrases stand out in the President`s speech, even buried within more political points, they ring out in allusions to a healthy relationships, in words like commitment and in phrases like our destinies are bound together.
*Apology. Perhaps one of the most risky, yet also essential, aspects of a healthy relationship is admitting your own inadequacies or failings, and how you`ve let the other person down. It takes great courage worth a 10, and Obama showed it, when he said in his speech, You can be disappointed with me and I`m far more mindful of my own failings, alluding to President Lincoln when he said, "I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go." Such admissions are essential for any partner to agree to move forward in a relationship -- with forward being exactly the Presidential reelection campaign theme. We ill learn from our mistakes, he said. Apologies have to happen before a betrayed partner can regain trust and agree to give the transgressor another chance -- like Obama is asking the American public to do, in the face of broken promises and disappointment in his performance.
Score 59 for Romney and 53 plus two extra totalling 55 for Obama on the love scale.
Interestingly, Vice President Joe Biden took a similar tact in his convention speech as the President, by an opening direct declaration of devotion to his wife. Like Obama, he opened with those three simple magic words: I love you.
Expanding his romantic side, he let us deeper into his boudoir talk, with a poetic twist, You`re the love of my life and the life of my love.
What woman would not be seduced by the thought of a man so wildly pursuing her love " Unashamedly, Biden declared in his speech how thrilled he was to hear his wife say publicly in her address at the convention, I`ve always loved you. Here was a man admitting his relief in being told he`s loved, after a history of five pleas before getting her nod.
Another healthy relationship move the V.P. did: value your wife`s career, again, the more publicly the better. The happiest spouse will say, He helps me be who I really want to be " He tells the world how wonderful I am. " Biden`s acknowledgement of his wife`s accomplishments as a teacher would make any female voter think, I want a man like that in my life.
In the past, President Obama has also admitted to pursuing his wife, before she finally gave in and dated him.
A man willing to be vulnerable and admit his pursuit of being loved is appealing indeed. So is the Romney story of childhood sweethearts in long lasting love.
With the American people suffering so much from fractured families and financial woes, the candidates would do well to invoke these qualities of healthy relationships in their race for the hearts of Americans.