With the election just a few days away, we thought it would be perfect timing to answer a very interesting question from the Mike and Susan Dawson mailbag. One follower asked us this:
“What do you do when you and your spouse are completely divided on political issues?”
What a great question! Let’s explore that a little bit.
First things first, let me say that this is not a political post. We aren’t discussing candidates, hot-button topics, or even who is right or wrong. But there does seem to be a bit of division in our country right now. And while it is fine to have our differences, it seems as if we can’t have a simple conversation anymore about anything political without getting into an argument. Our differences aren’t making us stronger — they are dividing us. Naturally, this poses a dilemma for couples who are split between party lines-or on any other topics for that matter.
So what do you do? This isn’t a stranger we’re talking about. It’s your spouse, and it’s not like you can “cancel” them.
Accept your spouse for his/her differences!
The first thing to realize is that you aren’t fighting about who is right or wrong. Get that out of your head right now. What you’re really fighting over is that you see things differently.
- Feelings and emotions
So if that’s the case, stop and ask yourself, “is that such a bad thing?” Is it so wrong to think differently? Is it so wrong to be divided on a big issue such as politics? I mean, couples have different opinions about all sorts of things. You may like the Rangers, but she’s a fan of the Astros. She may love romantic comedies, and you may think they are the worst movies ever. Granted, those are pretty trivial examples, but you get my point —
it’s normal for any relationship to have differences.
And if you sat down right now and thought hard about it, you’d probably find hundreds of things you disagree on but don’t make a big deal out of them.
If none of those other things are creating issues, then why should political differences be any different?
As couples, we must learn to accept our partner for WHO they are, no matter our differences or divisions.
We need to know that our feelings, ideas, and concerns matter, those differences are allowed and valued, that we can be open about our opinions, and that we don’t have to be made to feel like the enemy.
Remember that beliefs, opinions, preferences, etc. are NOT as important as accepting your spouse for who they are — even when you don’t see eye to eye.
Honor your differences. Treat your partner according to their God-given value.
Accept your spouse for who they are.
Be grateful for what they do and what they offer you.
Accept their limitations.
Ask yourself, “How can I make our differences work for our relationship?”
Refuse offense about differences
Gottman’s notes on accepting influence
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those to take advice. —
John Gottman of the Gottman Institute has plenty to add on this topic, particularly in the area of accepting influence. Couples who don’t accept influence (choose to hear their partner out) make it hard to avoid power struggles when they discuss problems. They may block their spouse from coming to compromise or reach an agreement. They may also create a win-lose scenario as a way to solve the problem rather than the two of them working toward a win-win solution.
Instead, we should be accepting of each other’s influence. According to Gottman, this looks like:
Actively seeking a common ground for agreement
Standing on what you cannot yield, but yielding on other aspects
Creating a give-and-take environment
Showing reasonableness and compromise
Asking yourselves, “Can we get to ‘YES?’”
You often see the opposite in political conversations. If your husband prefers one candidate over the other, tensions can rise so much that you can’t even talk to one another. You aren’t willing to listen or compromise, which creates a ton of negativity in your marriage.
We aren’t trying to pretend that this year’s election isn’t important. It’s more important than any of us realize, and it’s not uncommon for there to be division — even among spouses. All we are saying is that instead of looking at each other as the enemy, it’s important to accept each other’s opinions, differences, and feelings, and find common ground. To truly have a safe and connected marriage, you must be intentional about having healthier conversations with your spouse. If you do, you’ll be blessed with the marriage you’ve always wanted.
Connection comes through Communication – Join us for 2 – 5-minute videos featuring Mike Dawson, that will change the way you think about every conversation you have with your spouse. Get your Videos Here!
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Our heart is devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have the tools to communicate better in your marriage. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here.
Did we leave anything out? What are some ways you try to accept your spouse for his or her political differences? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.