With the start of a new president and party, politics never enjoyed a post-election lull. News of new policies and inflammatory reactions are still in the forefront of the mainstream media and social platforms. To some of us, this is amusing entertainment. For others, it creates powerful feelings of conflict, opposition or hostility.
Many couples do not share the same political views. It is like two people who graduated from different colleges. During football season, you might feel as if you are sitting in separate bleachers and flying different flags in your team’s colors. Football is not nearly as charged as politics (except for those totally dedicated fans) but the feelings of oposition it can create are strong.
How heated do the political discussions get in your home? Are they acrimonious enough to divide your marriage? Even if a contentious discussion doesn’t take you to the edge of divorce, it has the potential to hurt feelings and create resentments that will divide you.
So here are a few things to consider when sharing your opinions on a politician’s accolades or a pundit’s rebuttal.
- Be kind. State your opinion without using words that sting. You might try saying: “I see you have very strong convictions on this point. I’m sure you have good reasons for your opinion as I do for mine. Let’s keep an open mind and try to find some common ground.”
- Stay out of other couples’ conflicts. Be neutral and refrain from taking sides with the person who shares your point of view. This will only pour gasoline on an argument that may not be just about politics, under the surface.
- Allow your kids to see that people can share different views, and it is okay to have opinions that are not identical. Use this opportunity to promote individual thinking.
- Know when enough is enough. In other words, change the subject when a conversation seems to be going nowhere and getting out of control. Bring up a cheerful or neutral topic and move on.
- Be open to listening to supporting information from each other. People sometimes change their mind; you have nothing to lose but your preconceptions.
- And lastly—allow for differences. Assume there will be some, and that they might be on major points. Accepting differences doesn’t mean you will come to believe the same things. It just means you can allow the other person to be who they are. Agree to disagree. This takes strength and a kind of love that is not based on ego or control.
Talking about politics is very challenging. Friends have been lost and relationships can be damaged. Does this benefit anyone? Does it change the situation or the facts? Who is more important to you, a face on the television or the person you wake up to every morning? Holding on to both your love and your integrity is not easy, but it can save your relationship from heartbreak and stress. Don’t become the loser when being on the winning side is so easy!