Photo by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash
Managing conflict is a huge part of being in a relationship. Given the current political climate, that skill has become so much more important now more than ever. The past election has proved so divisive that it’s making friends and family choose sides and unfriend each other on Facebook and in real life.
If yours and your spouse’s or loved one’s political views are on opposite sides of the fence, here’s how you can communicate and talk to each other without doing damage to your partnership or marriage.
Communication is key
Sometimes, just saying what you feel can be enough to open the floor for a meaningful discussion, says the Huffington Post. If you have never tried to explain what you feel or why you support a candidate or your views on an issue, this is a good time to try it out. Have that discussion. But stay on an even keel. Don’t get angry. When it’s your loved one or partner’s turn, don’t interrupt. It’s your time to listen. That discussion can help eliminate a lot of the potential fallout you might have feared. Consulting with I Choose Change therapists in Allen can also help you and your loved one work through these conversations with an eye toward resolution instead of inciting more conflict and relationship distress.
Connection might be missing
In some cases, communication might not be the problem but disengagement. If you and your spouse, partner or friend or out of touch with each other, that could contribute to the damage. Talking to each other on your own could be like stepping into a landmine. A careless or wrongly-worded comment could set each other off.
If you have no clue how to ask or start that conversation, get help from professional counselors in Allen who will be more than happy to help you and your loved ones work through your differences. By spending time in counselling together, you and your spouse can have the time you need to reconnect and find that common ground again.
Your partner is more than his/her political views. It’s probably not the most important part of who they are, says Upworthy. It’s not the most essential part of their personality or why you married or loved them in the first place. Don’t focus on your differences. Always look for that common ground. You don’t have to agree with them to love them. But you must have mutual ground to stand on.
Respect and acceptance
Love is deeply rooted in respect and acceptance. It’s the idea that no matter what your loved one’s political views are and how far they deviate from your own, you respect your partner or friend’s position and accept it. You don’t have to believe it. That’s something partners of successfully long marriages know by heart. The only way you can communicate with each other is to grow and nurture the relationship with respect and acceptance.
Make appreciation and reconciliation a part of your life. Don’t let the hatred in. Don’t let anger come between you and your friends, mentors or family. Tempted to express your opposition to their views in the strongest terms? Take a deep breath and listen to what they have to say. If you feel strongly about your views, you’re going to find this difficult—to the extreme—to hear why your loved one supports a position that you feel is obviously inferior to yours.
There’s only one rule to follow through all this, though: to approach your loved one and that conversation with an open heart. That is the only way you can talk to each other and hear each other out without dealing damage to the relationship. That’s because love isn’t always about seeing eye to eye on issues. It’s about working together through whatever life throws at you, whether that’s your abiding support for Trump or Clinton. It’s being strong enough not to alienate, not to let the hatred win, not to buckle under the difficulties of maintaining those relationships, regardless of whether those include the strain of your political differences or not. It’s knowing that there are few things in the world that can be made perfect. And that love means being strong enough to embrace a life that is full of frustration.
In the end, very little will matter, even polarized politics. In the face of family and friends, what will matter is that you tried. What will matter is that you used your heart and emotional intelligence instead.