It’s not as rare as you think to find a couple who think differently about politics. After all, a marriage is a coming-together of two whole separate people with their own interests, preferences and perspectives. And, politics.
But in our polarized society today – polarized world, really – can a couple withstand years or decades of opposing political stances?
The short answer is, some can but some cannot.
The best advice I can offer after decades of watching the disintegration of marriages for many different reasons is to talk about everything up front, and then individually decide what you can live with – and what you can’t.
That’s where the problems often arise in a marriage – people aren’t honest with each other or themselves in the beginning.
It’s often cute to think there might be conflict or opposition, something that provides fire to the relationship. But ask yourself how you’ll feel in years to come when this same argument continues to play out with no resolution in sight.
The key to civility is listening well, seeking to understand how the other person comes to their views, understanding that all good people ultimately want the same things – opportunity, prosperity and security – and we simply differ in how we believe we can get there.
In an intimate, long-term relationship, it’s important to align on the big things. So, what is big for you? And if your partner doesn’t share that belief, can you live with it – or will you end up resenting each other?
Finally, it’s important to remember that some political issues are simply big-picture politics – not specific to your day-to-day. While some issues are deal-breakers. Like stances on abortion or gun ownership.
Since it’s impossible to find a partner who aligns with you on every single thing, decide which of your fundamental values are must-haves and which you have some wiggle room on. Go into a relationship with open eyes and frequent conversation. And know that people don’t often change at the core – so what you see up front, is what you will be getting down the line.