Although political differences in relationships have been difficult to deal with, the past few years have indeed exacerbated this challenge.
From election anxiety to political differences that have affected how different countries deal with COVID-19 authorizations, there may be a lot to navigate.
If you find yourself in the midst of political disagreements in your relationship, it may be difficult to know where to turn for help. VigorTip Mind spoke with Anita A. Chlipala of LMFT, a relationship therapist and author of the book Let’s Go First: A Guide to Enduring Love for Busy Couples, Learn more about how couples can overcome political differences.
Chlipala explains when a person’s perspective changes over time, how the couple handles it and even when they know whether the relationship should be ended.
How to talk about different political beliefs with your partner
If you want to find common ground or just get to know your partner’s side better, it’s best to be honest from the start.
Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT
It may require more than one conversation, I suggest [having] In brainstorming sessions, you can throw out ideas without judgment. Both of you can determine your own areas of flexibility and see if there is overlap to determine what you have in common.
— Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT
Through this, Chlipala means that although you and your partner may never agree with each other 100% of the time, you can still put your beliefs into practice in a variety of ways while demanding mutual respect.
When your partner’s perspective changes over time
One of the most difficult aspects of a long-term relationship may be watching someone grow up in a way that does not match your own beliefs. In other words, this is an important detail that needs attention and does not always mean that your relationship is about to end.
“People’s growth and change are inevitable, and couples need to be flexible to adapt to the way their partners change throughout the relationship,” Chlipala said.
Although you obviously need to make sure that your partner’s beliefs are not turning in a direction that can cause harm to anyone, it’s important to prioritize understanding. It is also important to make it clear that honesty and vulnerability are priorities. Chlipala points out that the same goes for people whose opinions change.
Chlipala also mentioned that people whose opinions have changed should be aware that their partners cannot suddenly appear on the same page.
Find common ground
It may seem impossible, but if you are with your loved partner, it is definitely worth a try. Chlipala recommends that couples take the time to try to understand each other’s point of view. She quickly pointed out that this does not mean that you need to agree with them. Chlipala suggests asking your partner a few questions, hoping to help you understand why they believe what they believe:
- What does your position mean to you?
- What values/experiences make you feel and think this way?
- What is your ideal dream?
- What do you want/need?
The idea is to identify common ground and use it as a basis. “Sometimes people think that they are farther apart than they actually are,” Chlipala said. “Through dialogue, talk about your values and how your political views affect your daily life.”
Also, see if you can find some middle ground. Just because you have political views that you oppose does not mean that these views will have any impact on your relationship or daily life.
When political beliefs hurt your relationship
If you find that your political beliefs are beginning to interfere with your relationship happiness, it’s time to talk to your partner. This especially applies to those who have tried to solve the problem but to no avail.
Chlipala said it’s time to consider ending the relationship, “If you feel criticized or feel your partner despise you and they are unwilling to accept your point of view.”
Make sure you are aware of whether you often criticize your partner and vice versa. It is important to pay attention and tell your partner that you are responsible for yourself, or talk to your partner about this behavior towards you.
“Criticism and contempt are toxic relationship behaviors. If not stopped, [they] May cause irreparable damage,” Chlipala said. “Furthermore, if your non-negotiable objects oppose each other and you and your partner are trying to find [a] Middle ground, [it might be time to consider breaking up].”
It is also important to ensure that you are honest with your partner, even if you feel that what you are honest will not be accepted.
“Sometimes people try to minimize or hide what they really need because they don’t want to lose relationships,” Chlipala said. “It is important that the person you date knows who you are, even if it means that your position is a dealbreaker for them.”
If your partner is manipulated by propaganda
If you feel that your partner suddenly starts to affect other aspects of their lives in a negative way, it may be time to discuss them seriously.
What to pay attention to
If your partner begins to exhibit the following behaviors, they may be manipulated by propaganda:
- Your partner is suddenly incorporating politics into more and more conversations
- Your partner shows anger in an unnecessary or frightening way
- They spend more and more time alone in chat rooms, watching videos or reading message boards surrounding their newly discovered ideas
- Your partner starts to make friends with other people online, or with people whose only thing in common is political beliefs
- Your partner starts to mention conspiracy theories often
First of all, it is important to note that propaganda is effective because certain content of the relevant information communicates with people’s inner hopes or fears. It is important to keep this in mind when communicating with your partner about their beliefs.
In the book Beyond your bubble: How to bridge political differences, skills and strategies for effective dialogue, Tania Isreal describes how to start a dialogue that promotes understanding:
- Don’t humiliate them: Don’t let your partner feel ignorant for believing in propaganda.
- Don’t overwhelm them with evidence to the contrary: it may be tempting to send links to articles that you think debunk their beliefs, but it’s not the best way to start a real conversation.
- Ask real questions that promote critical thinking: Don’t tell your partner that they are wrong, but ask questions about your more cunning beliefs about them. Tell them that you would like to hear more about it, and then ask the same questions from them.
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If you have recently found out that you have a disagreement with your partner due to different political opinions, please don’t give up immediately. Remember, understanding allows you to go further, and as long as you are committed to empathizing with each other, you have a better chance of making progress in your relationship.