No matter where you are on the political spectrum there is more stress than ever. Here's what to do.
Since the US election, people are reporting way more stress. It has even been given the informal name Post Election Stress Disorder. More troubling than increased worry or anger is the experience that people feel disoriented in their relationships. People are scheduling couple's counseling specifically for managing political differences. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, people feel like they are walking on eggshells and really need a safe place to deal with it.
Many people, since the election, feel like they "don't even know" people they have cared for and been with for a long time. Divisive and attacking language used for politics has many of us triggered to the point that we feel we can't take it any more. But we still have to work it out with our partners so we can't shut down or tune out because we fear we will loose our connections. We're stuck. Here are four crucial ways you can reconnect and be happier.
1. Talk about your values and morals.
Our values or morals define our worldview and priorities. People feel relationally disoriented right now because they feel like their partner's values and morals don't match their own. This leads to an experience of disillusionment, betrayal and abandonment. Stop arguing about HOW to express morals and values and focus on the morals and values themselves. If you can both remember, for example, that you value protecting children you can talk about that instead of Planned Parenthood funding. Better yet, volunteer to help kids directly by volunteering a local charity like Juliette's House.
2. Say it in your own way and be inclusive.
Politicians and their support teams are pros at what to say and how to get the biggest reaction from the most people. Campaigning is their job, and political social media has put that in our feed every day. Catch phrases and blanket judgments become normal when we get sucked into group think and propaganda. Stop using words like "snowflake" and "Nazi" and start using words like "we" and "together" and "common goal." This can create and heal many bridges. If you have an untouchable area where you strongly disagree, it may be wise to not talk about that topic: many people disagree and still have very happy lives together. If it is hard to get started in this conversation, please consult a professional therapist to give you a nudge. Not talking at all will build resentment.
3. Increase your positive experiences ASAP.
We know intuitively that we must have more positive experiences than negative to make being in a relationship worth it. We also know this from the field of interpersonal psychology and even a Gallop review about the Magic Ratio of positive to negative interactions (the magic number is a minimum of 3+ to 1-). However, with the current stressful climate, I recommend you increase it to "fill the bucket."
4. Have more sex. Seriously.
Besides the many benefits of sex, it floods us with so many feel good hormones it can really bolster the positive regard of a relationship. Not to mention the benefit of all the time, focused energy and intimacy it fosters.
We may be in the most stressful political climate of our lifetimes. Be proactive in protecting your relationship. Remember, no politician or pundit will be there to cuddle, feed you when you're sick or remember your birthday. Your partner will.