On the eve of our country’s first Presidential transition in eight years, politics are likely at the forefront of many discussions around the country. While we will remain politically neutral here, the discussion of politics as it pertains to marriage and relationships is important. Divorce attorneys often hear a difference of values, beliefs and ideals as causes of separation, and that difference can certainly appear when considering political ideals.
It certainly is not a requirement to choose a partner with similarly aligned political beliefs; notable political consultants Mary Matalin and James Carville have careers on different sides of the political aisle and have been married for 23 years. While their secret seems to be to not talk politics at home, it may require more work for other couples.
When political differences arise in a marriage, the first thing to remember is that it is not a personal affront. Every person has their views shaped by different upbringings, environments and influences. Enter a political discussion with the goal being to share ideas and understand perspectives as opposed to changing minds. By not trying to win a political argument, people with differing opinions are often able to find some common ground with concerns regarding an issue.
It may take time and practice to have healthy political discussions with your spouse, which is fine. Learn to mutually end a discussion before it gets too heated and revisit later. This can eventually lead to an overall improvement in your marital communication skills, helping even areas where you are similarly aligned.
If, even after considerable effort and attempts at a healthy discussion, it seems that political differences have caused an irreparable divide, step away from politics to consider other relationship aspects. Therapist John Gottman notes that the best way to reverse contempt in a relationship is by practicing appreciation and respect. Consider your overall life with your partner, including both nuclear and extended families and friend groups. If a political divide is objectively the biggest concern, it may be best to mutually agree to permanently shelf the topic and focus on other relationship strengths.
While it is generally not advised to discuss politics early on in a relationship, it can help to know ahead of time what your stance is toward a potential partner with differing views. A strong, healthy relationship will certainly be built on much more than one’s politics; that is what keeps Carvill and Matalin happily married and in love. Knowing if or where you would draw the political line ahead of time and practicing political discussion can help prevent major issues from arising in your marriage and relationships.
Wevorce Team. (2016, September 15). Marriage and Politics. Keeping the Peace This Election Season. Retrieved January 18, 2017 from https://www.wevorce.com/blog/articles/marriage-and-politics-keeping-the-peace-this-election-season
Abrams, A. (2016, June 20). Can a Relationship Survive Major Political Differences? Retrieved January 18, 2017 from http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/can-relationship-survive-major-political-differences-0620165