One of the facts that couples have to expect in their relationship is that there is going to be conflict. But this is probably something that does not have to be told to any partnership this year, or every four years, as our country engages in a presidential election. Obviously, if you are both on the same side of the political arena, it will make life a lot easier.
There are few topics that can create such an impassioned discussion as politics and religion. Often, when out with friends, if these topics come up people will agree to disagree. Certainly, this option is available to you, as a couple as well.
But there is something to be learned in the concept of agreeing to disagree. Basically, you are saying to your spouse that you are maintaining your belief system but still respecting the beliefs that he or she has. With that in mind, there are a few pointers to make this political season easier:
1. Do not make the argument a personal one. Bring up facts or specifics of why you believe what you do.
2. Try to keep the volume and energy reasonable. You can have your differences without this becoming a shouting match.
3. Do not make accusations or call your partner names during the discussion.
4. While your partner is making a point, listen to what is being said rather than already contemplating what your next point is.
5. If things are getting too heated, decide to talk about it at another time or perhaps make it an "off limits" discussion.
6. Once the discussion is over, let it go and go back to things as usual.
The truth is that these are really general pointers that can be used at other times as well. Many couples believe that in order to be happy in your relationship, you have to agree on things. Yet research does not show that to be true. What is essential is that you maintain respect for one another.
When you agree to disagree, you are acknowledging that you are not judging your spouse for being different than you; or, that you will stop loving him or her because you are not seeing things the same way.
As I have said so many times previously, one of the biggest challenges in a good marriage is the knowledge of how to bridge your differences. For some of you, the presidential election affords you the opportunity to practice doing so!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is the author of "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life" and co-author of "Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last."