The 2016 presidential debate is on as I’m writing this post.
Do you and your partner disagree about politics?
I’m not watching it, nor is the rest of my household because they are asleep.
But even if my family and I aren’t glued to the debate (half of us are 3 and under), we can’t deny it: people get excited about politics.
Admittedly, sometimes I mindlessly scroll Facebook (despite swearing it off, it’s truly a time suck), and today, thankfully, I’ve been motivated to write a post because even though my fairly “positive” group of FB friends [I don’t keep those negative ones in my feed] tend NOT to drown in the drama, all I’m hearing about is how much alcohol is necessary to survive the debate right now. Apparently, wine isn’t even cutting it for most.
Why not shut that noise off and put some nice music on and enjoy your alcohol if you’re going to be drinking it?
Or, do something that doesn’t make you need booze!
Easy for me to resist the mindless scrolling tonight because it’s simply people’s reaction to something I don’t want to watch.
And yet I’m left thinking of all the divided households.
One partner is conservative; the other liberal.
One partner wants to vote for Hillary; the other still gunning for Bernie.
One partner really believes that Trump can make America great again; the other is freaking out about the fate of the country (or the world at large) and their relationship.
What to do when you and your partner disagree about politics?
We probably agree that an ideal partnership has some overlap of values.
But it’s rare (and boring) to be with someone who is a perfect match, and you’re not always going to see eye to eye on certain issues.
Dr. John Gottman who has been studying happy marriages and those that fall apart for the past 4+ decades has found that 69% of conflicts that HAPPILY MARRIED couples have are PERPETUAL.
In other words: They never get resolved.
They’re still happy.
These folks agree to disagree. (He discusses this more in his highly recommended book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.)
Moral of the statistic:
Even if you can’t agree about the politics, the money, parenting or any other important issues, as long as you keep your commitment to each other strong, you can still be happy.
Here’s the thing about love and politics (much like love and religion, love and money, and love and everything else).
You’ve got to value your relationship more than your political tendencies if you want to make it work.
If your values are not PERFECTLY aligned with your partner’s, as long as you both value LOVE and the love you have for EACH OTHER, you can still be happy together.
At the same time, you must be clear about what’s important to you and what’s NOT okay.
If your partner is voting for Trump, is that a deal breaker?
Get clear on whether your partner’s oppositional political tendencies are a deal breaker for you, and if they’re not, accept them for what they are.
Just don’t get stuck in limbo, feeling distant from your partner agonizing about differing political opinions, but with no intention of separation.
You’re not going to change your partner’s mind about the politics.
So leave it alone and reflect on the amazing qualities that your partner and your relationship have. Don’t waste your energy harping on something that isn’t a deal breaker.
If you are struggling a lot with this issue, ask yourself what’s more important, your relationship that you have with this other person or your political tendencies.
I can see why divergent political tendencies CAN be an issue, but don’t blow up the matter if they’re not.
Make it explicit that your relationship comes first if it does, and you can relax knowing that even if one of you chooses a different candidate than the other, you each choose each other first.
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