My husband and I were married in the summer of 2016. That Fall, we experienced our first presidential election as a married couple. If you recall, it was a big one.
Despite still being in what some may call the “honeymoon phase”, that didn’t prevent some pretty heated arguments. Out of all the topics we discussed in our premarital counseling, politics wasn’t one of them.
This year, in the face of another intense presidential election, we have had to learn how to share our opinions respectfully and how to listen without retort.
And let me just say, it hasn’t been easy.
See, all of our views and opinions aren’t the same. My husband and I, each being unique beings with individual life experiences, have a different way of looking at things. Some may wonder how that’s possible. How two people who love one another and have the same values, don’t have the same opinions. But that’s the beauty of opinions; they are views or judgments that aren’t necessarily based on facts.
If my husband and I had the same opinion on everything we wouldn’t be who we are. Maybe you’re thinking, “well sure but there are some pretty serious topics in politics,” and this is true. Without getting into details, when it comes to “the big stuff,” if you will, we most often agree. The place we usually see differences is the implementations of said politics.
Today I can say we have come a long way in dealing with our differences and respecting one another, but it hasn’t been without a learning curve. We don’t have to often deal with the intensity of politics, usually once every few years. This year has been a challenge. I think we can all agree it’s been pretty overwhelming.
For me, the severity of it all came to a head this Summer when in a not so proud moment I stormed out of the house after having a “debate” with my husband.
I am not one to challenge other’s views, I would never “call someone out” in public or online. That’s just not me. But for some reason, I was doing this at home. After a few laps around the block to cool off, I came home. After some apologies on both sides, I suggested we never talk about politics ever again. Wouldn’t that be nice!
But there is no escaping it, and avoidance isn’t realistic. So instead we set a few ground rules when it comes to politics. These have really helped as things went on.
Agreeing to Disagree
I think these rules need to be individualized for everyone because we each have different methods of expression. For us, a few of these rules include:
- Not making comments or talking to the TV during debates or newscasts
- Not poking fun at supporters of a different party
- Not trying to change other’s opinions. That’s a big one.
It’s not about limiting ourselves but instead, it’s about respecting one another. We were already doing this in all over aspects, why not in regards to politics?
Since the implementation of these ground rules, we have been able to watch debates together and ask questions of each other. We didn’t eliminate political topics in our home. They do need to be discussed and we both have the right to share our thoughts and feelings. But being cognizant of how it’s coming across and being empathetic to one another has made a difference! There have been times when we have had to recognize that the discussion we were having was not beneficial to our relationship and stop it.
There was a time when it really bothered me that we didn’t think or see things the same way. I was worried it meant there was something wrong with our relationship. From my perception, no other households have this problem. Everyone else could agree on which sign to put in their yard, why couldn’t we? Did this mean our marriage was doomed?
But I have always known that we are two different individuals. While we do share common interests and values and love for one another we also have different hobbies, experiences, views, and opinions. And that’s OK, it makes us who we are.
We don’t have to agree, we don’t have to disagree, and we can just be who we are. Respectfully. Now wouldn’t it be nice if we could implement that on the debate platform!