This next presidential election looks to be a heated one. With the many folks vying for the Republican ticket and the few others who are debating whether to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democrat ticket, it will be a fascinating journey to November, 2016. The back and forth on news channels gives me a headache and I can only take so much political spewing before I have to turn the channel. I care deeply about my country, and I do vote every year and believe in its importance, but the constant arguing and debating is tiresome and it wears me down.
I’m blessed, though, because in my home things are relatively tranquil. My husband and I are on the same page when it comes to politics so conversations about candidates and political views tend to be calm and quick. However, I have known couples who had strong opposite opinions when it came to their political views. One couple even commented to me that when they vote, they literally cancel out each others vote . . . every single time. I have asked several of these couples how they navigate that in their marriages – I mean, how in the world do they keep a peaceful home when election season rolls around?
Their answers were priceless and can be great tools we can all use when facing differences of opinions in our own marriages. Not just political differences, but any difference of opinion.
- The couples I spoke with all had tremendous respect for their spouses. This was critical when hearing and responding to one another after a difference of opinion. They shared that the respect they had for each other allowed them to listen and understand their spouses feelings and opinions without having to agree with them. Most people in an argument or disagreement simply want to be heard and understood – not necessarily agreed with. If they feel that the other party has genuinely heard them and understands their point of view, the relationship is not harmed by the disagreement.
- One spouse reflected on how much easier it was to have these types of conversations with her spouse before they were married. When they were just friends, it didn’t bother her nearly as much. Having a disagreement with a friend is much less personal than having a disagreement with your spouse. The intimate bond between husband and wife puts everything on a much more personal level – and that is especially true when disagreements arise. So these couples made a conscious decision to take the personal out of it when they are “debating” issues that they know tend to be sensitive subject matters. They make every effort to listen without prejudice and to respond with words that are non-combative. Being aware that conversations and disagreements are on a deeper level with your spouse allows for more patient and loving responses.
- Finally, all of these great couples realized one important fact: they can NOT change the other (nor should they try). Some couples have a false confidence that they can “change” their significant others point of view. Although people can change over time, it should never be a prerogative of someone to “change” their spouse. These great couples accept and love their spouse for who they are – and that includes their point of view on things, even if those points of view do not match their own.
We can learn a lot from couples who are navigating turbulent waters well. May the upcoming political season, or any other difficult season in your marriage, be navigated with love and grace!