When you are dating you can decide whether to continue a relationship or not, when you find that you have different political views. But what do you do if you’re already married to that person? Most of the time people don’t care too much about who gets into the White House or what laws are being passed, but the elections of 2016 began to divide couples and even cause divorces over who was going to vote for who. I have also taken an interest in the different ideas that have grown up on both sides of the parties over the 2020 Coronavirus and even more recently the race riots. Who would have thought that wearing a mask in public would show your political values.
I’m going to tell you my story about how politics has affected my own relationships as well as give you some advice on what to do with yours if you find yourself living in a house that is divided politically.
When I was growing, we didn’t talk about politics in my household. My mother and father did not vote and I didn’t even know what political party we followed until I asked one time and found out that “We are Democrats.” I didn’t know much about the differences between a Democrat or Republican back then. I did notice that in my marriage my husband kept calling me a “liberal” like it was such a dirty word. I didn’t understand what it meant, but I knew he didn’t care for it too much. My next serious relationship ended and later when I got to talk to him about why our relationship ended, he mentioned that we had different political beliefs. I was a little shocked at that because we never talked about politics… or so I thought. I didn’t even vote until I was well into my thirties and had stake into issues on the ballot around teaching.
I don’t know why, but I have always been attracted to conservative men who believed in different values from me. I think if I had leaned to the far-left or my partners had leaned to the far-right, I might not have been as interested in getting involved with them. Having lived and committed myself to a conservative man for the last 20 years I have the following advice for you.
- Be Curious– Be curious about what your partner thinks. I eventually started doing this in my own relationship. I wanted to know exactly what it was that made me a liberal and him a conservative. What beliefs did I have that contradicted what his beliefs were? I did this by asking questions that were not accusatory, but were questions that helped me to see the different beliefs that both he and I had. I also started listening to Conservative Talk Radio, to hear what the other side was saying. I read articles on FOX News.
- Listen With An Open Mind– The next thing I needed to do was to listen with an open mind. To do that I needed to question my own beliefs as not necessarily the truth but a version of the truth coming from my perspective. I also needed to control my reactions when I heard views that I disagreed with. When I did this I started to hear stereotypes that had been put upon liberals and I began to recognize the stereotypes I myself had for conservatives.
- Find Common Ground– While listening and discovering the differences in my partner, I discovered that we had even more ideas and beliefs that we agreed on. You will probably find just as many common beliefs in your own relationship as well, otherwise you would not have been attracted to this person in the first place. As I found the common ground, I took the time to educate my partner on my beliefs and how I was not some stereotypical liberal like he was expecting.
- Reframe your thoughts around your relationship– This might be the part where you agree to disagree with your partner or you can do something else entirely and that is to reframe your thoughts. I started seeing my partner as someone who would protect me and make sure I was not taken advantage of and no longer saw myself as living with the enemy. I see now that there is no right or wrong about the way I think or about the way he thinks. We both care about each other and care about our world in different ways and this is beautiful. We have come together to balance one another and to teach one another about the different sides of issues.
- Seek help for finding peace- If you are in a relationship that keeps getting further and further divided, but you want to make that relationship work, you may need to seek out help from either a relationship coach or therapist to help you come to a common ground in your relationship. Sometimes it takes communication skills that you were not taught or raised with, to bring up these kinds of issues without causing reactions that can hurt your relationship.
Get your free Communication Game Plan. It’s a PDF that you can hang on your refrigerator. It is a simple, easy step by step guide to follow when you are struggling with communication. I also have a video that goes along with it. The video is a short Workshop that you can watch and begin practicing your new found skills immediately. All you need to do is provide your email and you will get a copy of it sent to your inbox.