Have you bought into the myth that couples must agree on everything? If you’ve been married for longer than, a week, you know that perfect agreement on all things, especially politics, isn’t realistic. Every couple has topics on which they just can’t see eye to eye.
Perhaps you and your partner are on the same party lines, but disagree on certain topics. Or, maybe you bleed red and he bleeds blue. Conversations about politics (or any area of conflict) between couples can lead to gridlock–which means each person digs their heels in the sand, and no one budges. The conversation becomes a tug-of-war, and nothing is accomplished.
If you decide to have a conversation about politics with your partner, here are a few tips for how to successfully manage the discussion:
- Stick to the facts, just the facts. It can be very easy to slip into political rhetoric and biased or half-true statements.This will likely lead to a fiery response. Avoid an argument by only pointing out statistics or events that can be proven.
- Never ridicule your loved one’s beliefs or ideas. Any form of criticism can result in immediate defensiveness by your partner. This cycle can quickly escalate into a heated argument.
- Allow your partner to have different opinions. Common sense dictates that no two minds think alike. You can agree to disagree.
- Use your best listening skills. Show your loved one that you respect and value what they have to say on any subject. Try to understand his/her viewpoint even though you don’t share it. Seek to understand rather than persuade.
- Avoid the sly comments snuck in around discussions of totally different matters, otherwise known as being passive aggressive. Just because your wife doesn’t like to cook doesn’t mean the she is a radical feminist trying to push her agenda onto you. She may simply not relate to Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart.
- Most importantly, remember your friendship and relationship takes priority over political identity. Love must be protected from anything that makes your significant other feel unworthy or not up to your standards.
Warning Signs that You’re Struggling with Conflict
- You have frequent, heated arguments about issues.
- Small issues can escalate to big blow-outs.
- One of you shows disrespect for the other’s opinions and feelings.
- One of you refuses to discuss the issues at all, and practices avoidance.
- You feel like the relationship has become increasingly distant. One of you feels isolated or snubbed.
If you’re worried about how conflict is affecting your relationship, you might want to consider talking with an unbiased outsider like a religious leader, trusted friend or a professional counselor. If you’re struggling to resolve conflict in several areas of your relationship, schedule an appointment with Dr. Tabitha Johnson. Or, for more helpful relationship tips, sign up for our newsletter by entering your email address on the right-hand column of the page.
How have you managed to maintain an open conversation with your spouse about politics? I’d love to hear your thoughts!