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Healing partners

by | Jan 13, 2021 | Healing, partner, The Partridge Family

The first song that came on when I requested The Partridge Family is today’s offering, I’ll Meet You Halfway – perfect for the partner discussion.  So exactly what does that really mean?  When I was doing research on the song, all kinds of negotiation web sites came back with this or that definition of “halfway”, most of which made the point that is almost never half of anything in a transaction.  Actually, “partner” has the same fate – everyone thinks they know what it means, but it is rarely a common definition… 

As I was coming of age, the church we attended was very “progressive” and embraced a hot new book that was the “self-help” mantra of the early ’70s.  The bright yellow book with circles that showed “relationship” Venn diagrams was a bestseller, and we actually were studying it.  My parents never really treated me as a kid and invited me to the sessions where I was soaking in what “I’m OK, You’re OK” really meant.  To this point, I hadn’t considered that everyone wasn’t OK… and how that would impact your view of partners… and what I found fascinating is they called it “Transactional Analysis”… or TA in that era… 

A cornerstone of The Partridge Family was Shirley Jones.  Already a star for 2 decades, she had just turned down the lead role in another cornerstone of that era – The Brady Bunch.  Her best friend, Florence Henderson signed on, and she was thrilled.  Her agents told her that if she did it, it would kill her film career, but the upside of being able to be around home, raise her own family with her husband singer and actor Jack Cassidy, started to be interesting… so when they approached her to audition for this role, she accepted with alacrity. 

The backstory was a young widow with 5 kids all decide to start a band to make ends meet.  And remember 1970 women “working” was not as common as today.  The show would analyze many issues of the day like Women’s’ Liberation, Civil Rights, and even light treatment of the ongoing Vietnam war. Coming together with lots of relationships and partners to Analyze, in bright flashy colors, with new pop songs each week.  And the possibility of singing…

The cast included a teenage “son” as the other “head of the household”. Imagine her surprise to discover her own stepson was at the first reading, and – as the son of her character. Both said, “what are you doing here?”  David Cassidy was an unknown bit actor at the time, who you probably know, and we will hear more about later.  His father had divorced his mother who then raised him.  Jack immediately married Shirley, with no explanation, took David to see her new movie opening – Oklahoma – to meet her for the first time. He was 5… 

…..and recalls it like this: “’cause I’m in total shock, because I wanted to hate her, but the instant that I met her, I got the essence of her.  She’s a very warm, open, sweet, good human being. She couldn’t have thawed it for me—the coldness and the ice—any more than she did”.  Interestingly there is another quote from Danny Bonaduce that says almost exactly the same thing: “Shirley Jones could not have been kinder to me”. She opened her home to both, and there are so many stories about her that confirm, she was as nice and easy to partner with as she appeared to be on the show.

My parents were married until my Dad passed in 1998.  Each of their parents were married until they passed, and throughout most of my family, my uncles/aunts were all mostly normal, loving, and supportive.  And even though we were now in Florida, we made it back for Christmas with most of the extended family, driving home in a VW – all 4 of us… A story for another time…. But as I was listening to the stories of other families, and other relationships, I realized that “Not OK” was actually something real, and my friends and partners may be dealing with things I never had to face.

Written by Gerry Goffin, Carole King’s ex-husband by this point, these tight lyrics – only one verse – are timely call to action in both the romantic and political space, both in the ‘70s and now.  It focuses attention on how different people can find a way together.  We are at that crossroads again, and I am thinking about what Transactions we need to Analyze.  And who our partners are for the journey? And what backstories are they carrying with them that show up in different ways today?

Last night a group of people across the country joined together in an organization that I have worked with called Braver Angels.  While we label ourselves as Red and Blue, we are all working to find a way to get to what we all are… purple.  And in the Venn diagram, there are always equal numbers of each – or it doesn’t happen.  All levels of leadership, meetings, content… exactly Halfway.  Is it easy – hell no!  Is it worth it.. well.. it depends on what Transactions you are trying to conduct. If you see “them” as a win-lose negotiation, or in a right-wrong framing, don’t bother…

Where are you both personally and professionally?  What does it mean to really be a great partner?  I ask leaders I work with to actually write that down… and most struggle. Can you see yourself as Shirley who melts all of the frustrations and icey situations she is in?  How can you see those around you at every level as equal partners?  And how do we know that is a real commitment you have to us… all of those around you.  As listen to Joe Osborne’s amazing bass line, and Shirley’s back up singing, know that I stand ready to help… and I’ll Meet You Halfway… 

Will there come a day when you and I can say
We can fin’lly see each other?
Will there come a time when we can find the time
To reach out for one another?

We’ve been trav’lin’ in circles such a long, long time,
Try’n’ to say hello,
And we can just let it ride,
But you’re someone that I’d like to get to know.

I’ll meet you halfway, That’s better than no way.
There must be someway to get it together.
And if there’s some way I know that some day
We just might work it out forever.
I’ll meet you halfway, That’s better than no way.
I’ll meet you halfway, That’s better than no way.

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