Politics Can Tear Your Marriage Apart — What To Do When You’re On The Brink Of Divorce

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Relationships feel cozier when you and your partner agree about important things. Unfortunately, the recent political climate has brought out differences between people, even dividing once-close families and friends.

No matter how tolerant you are, you don’t feel close to someone who disrespects your opinions.

Political divisions can be especially challenging when the person you’re disagreeing with is your spouse or romantic partner.

Loving this person who holds such different views is one thing; feeling connected, however, is another. You used to share all of your thoughts and feelings with this person, but now you both feel angry, betrayed, and far apart.

Fortunately, there are ways to turn down the volume when it comes to political disagreements.

Motivated couples can even use the friction between them to build more intimacy than before. It can be done, but it will take effort and intentionality from both of you.

RELATED: How Political Differences Can Affect Your Relationship

Here are 8 ways to create a peaceful relationship if you're on the brink of divorce due to politics.

1. Decide which goals work for you.

Different solutions work for different couples.

Some agree to disagree. They find peace by accepting the fact that they disagree and that they will probably continue to disagree forever.

Accepting their situation allows them to pull back and detach emotionally from the disagreement, while remaining attached to their partner. They still have diverging opinions, but they accept it, expect it, and don’t get angry about it.

Other couples avoid talking about politics altogether. If you get along wonderfully in other areas and avoiding politics works for you, go for it.

For other couples, however, politics is a large part of life. Avoiding it feels like keeping part of themselves from each other.

2. Find alternative ways to talk about politics.

For example, set aside half an hour twice a week to talk about politics. Start precisely at the time to talk about anything political that you want to.

If arguments happen, then argue. Stop the conversation when the half-hour is up and don’t bring up politics at any other day or time.

Or, talk politics but replace trigger words with a code word. For example, "potato."

"I saw a bunch of potatoes on the news talking about the potato incident today."

The intention is not to mock anyone or anything — just to get your point across while avoiding words that ignite anger.

Be creative and find something that works for you and your partner Some couples work together to find a way to talk respectfully about their views, but it's difficult and not always suitable for everyone.

For example, if your partner refuses to work on your communication and belittles you for asking them to do so, then you might want to consult a couples therapist, instead.

3. Plan together how you’ll approach political discussions.

Find a time when you're both in a reasonably good mood and neither is mad at the other to have a talk.

If one of you is already angry, you’re likely to end up arguing. The same is true if one or both of you is under stress from outside the relationship.

Don’t bring up relationship problems the minute you walk through the door after a tough day at work. Eat dinner and have a pleasant conversation about neutral subjects for a while.

Wait until you're both relaxed before tackling a serious discussion.

Don’t talk about politics, though. Right now, you’re not trying to solve the world’s problems or convert your partner.

You’re trying to see if you can create a blueprint for communicating that will help create a feeling of oneness between you.

So, don’t open this conversation by saying, "Did you hear about that idiotic thing that Congressperson ‘X’ did today?" Instead, talk only about the two of you, your feelings, and your communication.

4. Speak in positive terms.

How would you feel if your partner said, "You’re always carping about your stupid politics!"

Would you respond by saying, “You’re so right! My views are ridiculous and I’ll keep quiet from now on. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways!"?

OK, you might say that sarcastically, but the conversation won't go anywhere pleasant.

A more effective opening might be something like, "I love talking with you and sharing our opinions with each other. I want to feel close to you again, but I hate that we argue so much. Can we find a way to share with each other without arguing?"

Chances are, your partner will agree with you.

5. Talk about your feelings without attacking your partner.

Again, think about how you’d feel if your partner said, "You’re impossible to talk to. You go always start raging at me when all I’m doing is talking innocently about politics."

If you’re like most people, your first impulse would be to deny that you fly into rages for no reason and to point out that your partner isn’t so innocent.

Then, your partner would probably insist that they're indeed innocent and that you’re the one who’s the hothead. And the argument would escalate from there.

Instead, keep it about your own feelings and experiences.

"I feel intimidated when you speak passionately about politics. I take it personally, and then I worry that you’re mad at me."

Wouldn’t you be more likely to pay attention to your partner’s feelings if they said that, instead?

Ask your partner what they need from you to help them communicate more peacefully, and really listen to them. Then, tell them what you need from them.

They will be much more likely to make changes and show concern for your feelings if you're doing the same for them.

Work out a plan together that both of you agree to. Then, incorporate some of these ideas into your plan.

RELATED: The Pros & Cons Of Adding Your Political Affiliation To Your Dating Profile

6. Talk about your feelings on current events, rather than building a case.

Most political discussions are debates about which idea is better. That may be great for the campaign trail, but it doesn’t do much for relationships.

If you talk aggressively about why the new administration is making the greatest or the worst moves ever, you know you’ll just end up in an argument, as usual.

Instead, talk about your personal, emotional response to the administration’s actions. Try saying something like, "I feel so relieved/distressed over this executive order."

Your partner will find it easier to sympathize with your feelings than with your opinions.

Look at it from the other point of view. When your partner says to you, "This executive order will save/destroy the economy," you probably feel defensive.

Your first impulse is to state all the reasons why it would actually do the opposite. Your partner, in turn, defends their own position and the argument begins.

But, if your partner were to say, "I feel relieved/distressed about the executive order," you wouldn’t feel nearly as defensive.

You’ll probably understand why your partner is happy or sad, even if you feel the other way. You can express empathy for their feelings without agreeing with their opinions.

Likewise, tell your partner why your favorite political cause means so much to you, instead of just arguing for it.

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For example, perhaps you once knew someone who was homeless or who fled to America to escape tragedy in another country. Your friend’s struggles impacted your views about homelessness or immigration.

Describing your personal experience with your friend’s struggles, where your passion comes from, and how it feels to you, is less likely to lead to arguments.

It may even help you and your partner understand each other better and draw closer to each other.

Maintaining respect for each other — even when you disagree — is crucial for happiness in a relationship.

7. Don’t try to change their views.

If you’re passionate about your convictions, you naturally want to win your partner over to your side. Unfortunately, your partner is probably trying to win you over, too.

Each of you resists the other and tries even harder to fight for your side. Arguing seldom changes anyone’s mind, though. It just polarizes and distances people more.

Instead, take the attitude that your partner’s opinions are their own, and it’s not your job to change them. You can have your own ideas and express them — and it’s OK if your partner thinks differently.

Listen to your partner and try to understand their point of view. Most likely, you have a lot of good ideas and a few bad ones. Your partner, too, has a lot of good ideas and a few bad ones.

Hearing them out probably won’t change your convictions, nor theirs. But hearing what they have to say might help you make better-informed choices. You might even learn something from each other.

Find areas where you agree, no matter how small. Any time the two of you see eye-to-eye on any tiny point, celebrate it.

Whenever one of you says, "I agree that …" on some small area, even if they follow it with a "but….," stop and talk about that idea. Build on that area of harmony.

8. Treat each other gently, no matter what.

For couples who disagree, the problem of politics boils down to how they treat each other. You might feel frustrated if you don’t like each other’s views, but that by itself won’t destroy your relationship.

If you get angry every time you share opinions or if you talk down to each other or ridicule each other’s views, it’s devastating.

Remember that you may be talking about a world event, but the way you talk to each other affects how close you feel to each other.

This is the person you chose as your life partner, the one to be with through good times and bad. Treat them as the one who loves you and whom you love and desire to be close to more than anyone else in the world.

To keep your relationship close when you disagree about politics, look at your priorities.

Which is more important: Winning a political discussion, or having your partner there for you?

There are plenty of people out there who agree with your politics, but who is as special to you as your partner is?

Yes, political ideology reflects who you are and who your partner is. Yes, you would feel better if you agreed. But, politics constantly changes and you want to be close to your partner forever.

That politician won’t be there to hold you when you lose a loved one or cheer you on when you get a promotion.

That politician will probably do something tomorrow that stabs you in the back. Your partner is the one who will be by your side, whatever the lawmakers do, if you nurture your relationship.

Learning to deal with your disagreements will not only calm things down, but will also bring more peace to the relationship and to the household.

More importantly, learning to respect each other in the midst of conflict will give your relationship strength and draw you closer together. And close relationships are what will get us through turbulent political times.

RELATED: Why Talking Politics With Oppositional Family Members Is A Bad Idea

Frances Patton, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist who is passionate about helping couples develop intimacy in their relationships. Visit her website for more information.