And here we are again! Political campaigns are invading our news feeds, as well as ads on television.
2020 has come with a swing, and I dare to say that this election is a very heated one that is impacting everyone individually, but couples as well.
In the past few elections, divorces around political differences have spiked, and this election seems to be one that not only has the country divided but couples as well.
Whenever elections are about to be conducted, political debates and talks happen in every corner of the country. It is common for couples to catch up on the various political agendas and views, with some of them having different perspectives and preferences. However, not all couples are the same, as some are apolitical, or may have a pact of not discussing politics when they are together.
Talking about politics with your partner can be a challenging issue, especially when the two of you have different political opinions and do not support the same candidate. Partners should, therefore, tread carefully when having political conversations, as they are likely to cause a strain in their relationship. The problematic discussions can even lead to significant arguments, fights, separation, or even divorce.
When having a potentially tense conversation with your partner, you need to keep the points below in mind:
- Learn to listen and stay open-minded
When you begin a political conversation, you should keep an open-mind (check my video on this topic). Learn to be patient and listen to what your partner has to say. During a political argument, resist from interrupting your partner to defend your opposing views before listening genuinely to what they need to say. Distractions should be kept at minimal, for example, by switching your phones off to avoid the urge to use them amid a conversation, thus ignoring what your partner is saying.
- Monitor your Reaction
As you debate a topic that both of you are passionate about, make sure that the discussion will not get out of hand to a point where you have a heated exchange. Take time to organize your thoughts as well as allowing yourself to take a deep breath to minimize the risk of uttering something disrespectful and hurtful. When voices get raised and the discussion becomes heated, it is time to call it off and continue later on when you are both level-headed and calm.
- Respect each other’s views
It’s quite healthy to allow yourself new ideas by questioning what you initially thought you knew. All the same, you should not let your partner force his/her beliefs on you; they should instead respect them and learn to live with them. A supportive partner should never try to influence your opinion; instead, they should tell you how they view an issue and leave you to process the information on your own.
- Fight Fair
When you agree to have a political conversation, you should avoid attacking each other by calling each other’s names, belittling each other, and throwing slurs. Strong different views between you and your partner shouldn’t always end in bad blood. Learn to listen to each other’s opinions without a fight. In case it gets out of hand, make sure to make peace at the end of the conversation.
- Stick with the facts
It is critical to stick to the facts when discussing politics. Relying on hearsay, rumors, or anecdotes as proof of evidence to support your position should never happen. Take time to find the truth from reliable and neutral sources given that fake news is everywhere and many media outlets are reporting news with political agendas embedded in their articles, whether we like it or not and is being used to tarnish an opposing viewpoint.
As you would with any heated conversation, take time to self-reflect. Ask yourself if you were too harsh with your partner and whether you were genuinely listening to them or your interest was to lash an attack on their viewpoints. Learn to take responsibility for your actions in the context of the conversation. You are likely to achieve productive discussions if you stop finger-pointing.
- Avoid the conversation if need be.
Discussing politics in a bi-partisan relationship is not a bed of roses, but with mutual respect of each other’s view, it can be achieved. If all fails, and you believe it will strain your relationship, it is better to avoid it altogether. Agreeing to set the topic aside from the relationship can be a smart decision to protect the relationship.
Your therapy friend,
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SOFIA M. ROBIROSA
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Relationships & Parenting Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationships. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens, an evidenced based program. She is also a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She is a passionately committed therapist, who thoroughly takes pride and joy from her job. She enjoys working with a culturally diverse population and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an active volunteer of the Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining.