It’s hard to turn anywhere recently without being bombarded with some kind of political talk… It’s all over the news, all over social media… It’s likely what your friends and coworkers are talking about…
And even if you’re really into this kind of stuff, it can be a little exhausting – especially because there seems to be so much conflict in the air. Maybe you’ve gotten into some heated arguments with people you know – but what if you and your spouse keep fighting about politics?
The ongoing tension in this one area can wreak havoc on the whole relationship if you don’t keep things in check. Here are some steps you can take to ease some conflict and avoid political infuriation:
1. Learn the Value of Disagreement
Frist, this is NOT about fighting or arguing. This is about calm, thoughtful discussion when you and the other party don’t share the same opinion.
Approached the right way, it’s actually an opportunity to learn a TON about the other person, where they come from, and why they think they way they do… And in the process, you’ll likely learn some things about your own opinions and way of thinking too.
The key is to stay calm and never let it turn into personal attacks… Which brings us right to the next tip.
2. Don’t Ever Let It Turn to Hate
People feel strongly about their opinions – especially political ones. One someone doesn’t see things the way you do, it’s easy to assume that they’re just stupid, don’t see what you see, or can’t understand the info that’s informing your stance.
DO NOT let yourself resort to such personal attacks – or even such thoughts about the other person. If you disagree, that’s fine… But always keep your discussions focused on the issues, on information, on what you can do to find middle ground and increase your combined understanding…
As soon as it starts getting personal, STOP! You’re going to say things in the heat of the moment that you might not mean, and if you’re getting angry, you’re probably not having a productive talk at all. Stop, walk away, and let your temper settle.
3. Separate Politics from Personality
Your political opinions (and anyone else’s) are but a small part of the person they are. Difference of opinion – even on the hottest button issues – does NOT mean you can’t be friends, lovers, or spouses! You just have to remember all of the other things you love about your spouse – and not focus on this particular point of contention.
In fact, you can carry this with you into ANY political discussion. The other person… IS A PERSON! They have loves and fears and hopes and dreams, and chances are, they aren’t so different from you if you can get past some ideology.
With your spouse, this is the person you married! You already know that there’s so much more to them than these political ideas – so don’t let disagreement cloud your judgment of their character.
4. Make Discussion a Couple’s Activity
If you both feel very passionately about the topics you disagree on, and have plenty to say about them… Make it a date! Maybe it’s not the most romantic way to spend your time together, but it will bring you closer together – IF you make it a civil, educational discussion, with the intent to learn more about each other.
If you can’t seem to stop bringing this stuff up, set aside a time to really dig into it. It could be over a meal or a drink, but like any other time you dedicate to one another, make sure you’re away from distractions and can give each other your full attention.
5. Designate a “No Politics” Zone
Maybe it’s part of the house (or the whole thing) or certain times of day… But if the political disagreements are getting out of control, set some ground rules to keep yourselves from falling into it too much. If you can both agree to this, it will be easy enough to offer each other a quick reminder – and stop a brewing argument in its tracks.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever talk about it, but you can save yourself the ongoing debate by establishing a “no politics” zone at the dinner table, in the bedroom – wherever and whenever you need a break!
You and your spouse may never fully agree on politics – but that’s ok! With these tips, you can ease some of the tension, and hopefully find some ways to learn from each other, expand your own understanding, and practice your patience in the face of differing ideology. Good luck!
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com