So, you and your husband are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, or maybe you’re on the same side, but you support different candidates and approaches.
Don’t want to end up in a heated battle when you discuss your views? Here are three tips for how to talk about politics so that the only heat you’ll feel is the passion in your relationship.
So, Why Do Opposites Attract?
Let’s start with why you and your hubby wound up together in the first place. There is research suggesting that opposites do attract. Once you’re past the physical attraction stage, you seek someone who complements your personality. So, if you’re a ying, you may subconsciously seek a yang.
This is great in the initial stages of romance, and it can remain that way, keeping your relationship from turning dull. It should go without saying that yelling and screaming are not allowed in front of others. Just like you tell your kids, use your inside voice. There are ways to hash things out without it getting ugly. The suggestions below will help political discussions be part of your spark.
Agree on the Rules Before You Start
First, discuss whether political debates are even on the table. Some people just don’t want to venture into the topic at all, particularly if they know the other person holds opposing views. So, if your spouse doesn’t want to talk about it with you at all, respect his or her wishes. Instead, enjoy exchanging ideas with friends and family who relish a good debate.
If you both decide to go there, lay some ground rules. No name-calling or belittling. It’s not necessary. And if you don’t want to be on the receiving end of those things, why would you think your partner does?
Are there specific topics you know will send either of you spiraling out of control, no matter what? Avoid those. Stick to the ones you both know you can handle.
Don’t slip in political talk when you are discussing something else completely. If you two are discussing basketball, don’t bring up that the coach of your husband’s favorite team supports a cause you’re against. Don’t blind-side each other.
Agree to be polite when you do decide to discuss politics. Speak to your spouse as though you’re talking to a highly-respected best friend — because that’s what you are doing.
Pay Attention to Place
One of the worst things you can do is get into a screaming match about politics in public or around family. It’s inviting people into your drama who don’t want to be there. If you’re in a general public setting, like a restaurant or the park, keep your voices down. People have gone to these venues for their own reasons. Hearing your political discussion is definitely not one of them.
Are family get-togethers safe spaces for politics? It depends on your families. If the family is good-natured and discuss political topics like mature adults, maybe. But most families don’t fall into that category.
If you both know politics are a touchy subject with your families, just avoid the subject altogether. If your family holds the same views as you do, or vice-versa, it may make your partner, sitting on the other end of the political spectrum, feel ganged-up on. And there’s nothing worse than feeling you’re being ganged-up on at your in-laws. Don’t do it to your spouse or allow it to happen to you. It should go without saying that yelling and screaming are not allowed in front of others. Just like you tell your kids, use your inside voice.
Don’t Try to Change or Fix Your Mate
You should both approach your political discussions in the spirit of agree to disagree. Respect each other’s views and avoid the temptation to view your debates as winner-take-all death matches. Just because you believe your spouse’s viewpoint is wrong doesn’t make them a bad person. They’re still the same person you married.
Listen to each other — even on topics that you are on opposing ends of — you may find some areas of common ground. You may even learn something from each other. But what’s most important is that you work to understand each other.
Speaking of learning, educate yourself more about the topics you discuss with each other. When you stick to objective, provable facts, your discussions are less likely to become heated. If you know discussing politics is too stressful for either of you, it’s okay to simply accept each other’s opposing views. There are even phrases you can use to maintain your convictions and still support your hubby.
Talking politics, especially when you don’t agree, doesn’t have to cause unwanted friction in a marriage. It may actually spice things up if you do it the right way. Remember you’re discussing the topic with the person you love, who’s your friend. And let the debate begin!