So you’re a Biden fan and your partner supports Trump? Or vice versa? If this is the case for your relationship, you may be feeling as though tensions are high, especially as we draw closer to the November election. You may notice feeling a desire to support your opinion and defend your beliefs. At times, you might even begin to question how you ever saw eye to eye with your partner before, wondering “how did I fall in love with someone who sees the world so differently?” There are a few ways to navigate opposing views that can leave you and your partner feeling respected:
- Find common ground and shared values.
No one falls 100% completely to the left or right on the political spectrum. If you take the time, you will come to see that there are shared beliefs between you and your partner. For example, you may discover that your right-winged partner believes in women’s rights to their body. Or, as a more left leaning ideologist, you may find that you are somewhat fiscally conservative. Draw on those points of connection when talking about politics with your partner. Take time to find that common ground. I guarantee there are shared values that you hold if you take the time to focus on the similarities.
2. Seek support elsewhere on opposing views
No one can be all things to one person. When it comes to political beliefs, you may find this is an area where you need to seek support outside your relationship. And, that’s okay! You may have another family member or friend that is a little more aligned with your beliefs and ideology. Reach out to them when wanting to feel the ease of knowing that someone supports your views.
3. Be mindful of timing
Politics has a way of sneaking in to conversations at the worst times. In the evening when watching the news together for example, a time where you might normally connect with your partner. Or, date nights when you are away from the kids and finally have an opportunity to engage in adult conversation. Be aware that talking with your partner about politics might lead to some tension. Ask yourself if that is something you want to bring up at that point in time. Would it be better to save the conversation for another time?
4. Respect and accept differences
Acceptance is hard. We can say that we accept our partner for who they are but to actually act in accordance with this statement takes consistent work and energy. You can not change your partner. You shouldn’t try to change your partner either. They have a right to their belief system. Consider ways that you can offer support and respect instead of criticism. If your partner says they are feeling criticized, check in with yourself and decide if you are being judgmental or argumentative in that moment, even if it is unintentional.
5. Don’t recruit others to support your views in front of your partner.
At times, when feeling as though your partner doesn’t “get it” and understand how you feel about a particular view, it is easy to recruit people around you to back you up. So, if you happen to have a friend over who feels similarly to you, it might be easy to say “Tell them! You get what I’m saying!” The action of adding in a third party to defend your view is described by Minuchin (a well known family therapist) and is defined as a “stable coalition.” This action can be damaging to your relationship because it often results in your partner feeling ganged up on. This is especially true and unhelpful when involving your kids in to the disagreement.
What can you do to better when it comes to talking politics? Do you and your partner feel as though you are on opposite sides? How do you navigate this and what challenges come up for your relationship?