When politics get ugly with your sweetheart
Dread political debates with your honey? Find out how to get out unscathed.
You're a dyed in the wool Democrat. Your beloved mate is an equally die-hard Republican. However, you have many interests in common and you have a good relationship.
When your spouse gets on a political rampage – rarely, but it happens, you:
- Say "mm-hmm," "Really?" or "Is that so?" and basically tune him out.
- You roll up your mental sleeves, paw the ground and launch into an all-out attack on his point of view. It takes a week before the icicles melt off either of your hearts.
- You do your best to smile, nod and agree with him, even though inside you are seething, as in "How could an otherwise intelligent man be so stupid?!"
Meanwhile, you are wondering "Do I have to give up who I am, politically, in order to be happily married to you?"
Because no matter which of those three options you use (sometimes all three in the same week), that's how you feel – like you're sacrificing who you are in the interests of marital harmony. And that doesn't feel good at all.
So try a different approach. Look upon your different political preferences as an opportunity to expand who you are, not restrict who you are.
Ask your husband "What is it about XYZ that feels right to you?" Seek to understand your husband's political position, and be willing to share yours. Not as in argue and defend, but literally, as in "understand." Then go up a notch in the discussion to find common ground.
There's always common ground, whatever your political views. Both of you, for example, want the country to thrive; you just have different ideas on how to get it there. Agree to the bigger picture of a "healthy, thriving country," and then simply respect each other's right to a different political vision of how to accomplish that.
When you defend, you tend to put down the other person, dismiss or devalue their position in some way. When you seek to understand, you respect what the other person thinks or feels, without having to agree with them.
You see, that's the key. You have every right to your opinion as does your mate. Neither one of you needs to feel bad or wrong for having a different political choice.
Once you get the hang of it, seeking to understand and to share, rather than impose your opinion, becomes fun. And, you both learn a lot more about each other, about how each of you thinks and feels than you ever would by tuning out or fighting.