Does having a different political view from your husband or wife spell divorce disaster? Surprisingly, a recent Gallup poll found the 57% of people would marry someone with considerably different political beliefs. Apparently, couples today are increasingly more willing to bridge the bi-partisan gap in the bedroom than in the past. But as a marriage therapists suggest that bi-partisan relationships are not for the faint of heart.
The issues presented in today’s election have everyone’s political fervor, and emotions, at a fever pitch. It’s hard to find anyone who is just lukewarm about the candidates or the issues. Everyone has at least one family member whose political views are diametrically opposed to their own. We are all forced to find ways to cope. Whether it means putting the kibosh political discussions at the dinner table on Thanksgiving or being ready to change the subject when Grandpa starts a sentence with, “In my day…”, disagreements with the ones you love is just a fact of life. But what happens when the partisanship hits closer to home and it’s spouses who don’t see eye-to-eye politically?
Well, I can tell you confidently that I’ve never had a client come in for a consultation citing “political differences” as the reason they’re seeking a divorce. A relationship can end for any multitude of reasons, but many of those reasons are tied to communication breakdowns between the partners. So, it’s no surprise that bi-partisan couples who make it work cite communication as their secret weapon!
The blog for The Gottman Insitutue, founded by marriage expert John Gottman, offers a few tips for coping with political difficulties in a marriage:
- Learn why your partner leans the way he or she does.
- Find common ground.
- Agree to disagree.
- If necessary, agree upon subtle changes in activity to keep the peace.
- Consider agreeing on topics to avoid.
- Maintain open dialogue.
- Watch for warning signs including intense, frequent disagreements and lack of respect for each other’s opinions.
Just remember, even if you and your spouse may end up effectively “cancelling out” each other’s vote, it doesn’t mean you can’t hold hands on your way to do your civic duty today! Sometimes it may seem that walking down the aisle is a whole lot easier that reaching across it.