Marriage and Politics

Amy Cunningham
With the election right around the corner, tensions can run high in relationships, particularly in those relationships where spouses or partners have opposing political views. It's not uncommon for their to be differences in beliefs from religion, to finances, to politics.

Famous couples like Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Carville and Mary Matlin set an example for all two-party relationships out there! It's possible to have a successful and happy marriage even when you fall on different sides of the political fence. They key to these successful relationships is that you have a lot more in common in other areas of your life than you have uncommon in politics. The same applies if your differences are religious or financial. Keep your focus on those areas in which you agree rather than disagree. And in those areas in which you do disagree, simply agree to disagree.

5 Ways to Keep the Peace
  1. Agree to disagree.
  2. Do not ridicule your partner or their opinion, but rather respect their opinion.
  3. Listen to your partner when discussing politics rather than turning a deaf ear.
  4. Allow your partner to have their own convictions and do not try to change these. Instead try to understand their opinions and positions. You can understand and respect their views without agreeing with them.
  5. Focus on the middle ground. You more than likely agree in some middle areas when it comes to politics, so focus on those rather than on your extreme views.
Debate Rather than Fight
Ultimately, you must remember that when two partners hold views on opposite sides of the political spectrum, arguments are inevitable. Most of the time these arguments can lead to bigger fights as the issues at hand are unresolved because you disagree at the core. It's important to recognize that instead of focusing on your ideological divisions, challenge yourselves to healthy debates based on the facts.

According to Gail Saltz in MSNBC's A House Divided, couples should avoid personalizing and globalizing when fighting. Instead of turning arguments into personal attacks, keep them focused on the issues.

If you find yourself attacking your partner personally, step back and remove yourself from the argument.

When Compromise is Impossible
There are times when your ideological differences cause such a rift that you find it impossible to compromise or 'agree to disagree'. Often one partner will need to let go of a strong conviction in order to reach a compromise and if this isn't done it can lead to significant marital distress. If you find yourself arguing frequently and with greater intensity or distancing yourselves from one another it may be time to seek help from a marriage counselor.