Bridging the Political Divide with Your Partner

relationship issues political disagreementsHere we go… another election season. Is it over yet?

When politics is the topic of the day (or week, or month, or year) talking to people can become stressful really fast. Your social media may be flooded with articles you do not want to see, you may find yourself rolling your eyes at your coworkers, and let’s not even go into what talking about politics is like with your parents or family.

For many people, home is your refuge. It’s where you can get away from the intensity, let off steam, and set aside the nonsense of debating.

But what if your partner has a different political opinion? It can sometimes be the cause of serious relationship issues.

As much as we may try to avoid talking about politics with our partner, it’s going to come up eventually – especially in an election year. Sometimes, all it takes is a snide joke while reading the morning paper or listening to the nightly news, and suddenly you’re in full-on argument mode, ready to take each other down.

But most couples don’t have to let it get this far. If you prepare. If you set ground rules. Before you have a discussion about politics (or any taboo subject, for that matter), you and your partner have to agree on two things:

You both have a right to your opinion. Because it is just that – your opinion. Your partner does not have the right to tell you that you are “wrong,” and you do not have the right to tell your partner that he or she is “an idiot.”

If either of you misquotes something or uses inaccurate statistics, it is perfectly reasonable to provide research and facts that are more up-to-date. But in the end, you both have a right to your political views.

You both can learn something new. Remember, bothparties must agree to this before you begin any potentially heated discussion – political or otherwise.

It is crucial that you listen to what your partner is saying when you discuss politics, rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak. Listening to your partner’s opinion can help you see their perspective – and maybe even learn something new.

Where Are Political Discussions Appropriate?
Political discussions can erupt anywhere… and with anyone. Do you dread holiday dinners because of the inevitable politics discussion? You’re not alone.

If you get uncomfortable or embarrassed when your partner gets into political discussions with your friends or family, let him or her know!

During a quiet moment at home or while you are having a private discussion, talk to your partner about where you think political discussions are appropriate (and where they aren’t!). Your partner may disagree with your views here, but come to a couple’s answer about where it is okay to bring up politics – and both of you stick to it.

Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803