Politics and Marriage: Who Wins

October 26, 2020

Politics and Marriage

Considering all that 2020 has already been, it seems appropriate this would also be the year we have a crazy election season with a seemingly very divided nation trying to elect its next president. I’ve heard this election called “the most important election in history”. And maybe it is, though it seems the same phrase has been thrown around during every presidential election year I can recall. One thing is for sure though, this election has been especially brutal, sometimes putting friends and neighbors and family members at odds with each other. I’m seeing political posts on social media everywhere and folks are being downright ugly. Each side is fighting to win and tearing the other side down in the process.

Honestly, watching this election is a lot like working with hostile clients in marriage therapy.  Each has a point of view they feel is the right one, and neither side is very good at listening to the other. They fight, blame, ridicule and try to make the other one the bad guy, as if any of those behaviors could possibly help in any way.

Have you ever known anyone who changed their political views after a heated exchange on the subject?  Yeah…neither have I.  And I have never seen a couple be very successful when trying to communicate this way either. We are all too invested in being heard and more interested in slamming home a win in a debate than we are in listening, relating to, or trying to understand an opposing view. It is very much a “we vs. them” mentality. 

What if we could switch the narrative? Would it be possible to approach your spouse from a position of “us” instead of you or me? Every successful marriage has three players: you, me and us. The “us” is vitally important and the key to a successful marriage.

Getting a couple in therapy who operate in a ‘you vs. me’ way is miserable for everyone, including the therapist. Some couples seem to expect their counselor to wear black and white stripes and carry a whistle. They want the therapist to referee their weekly arguments. That’s a game I refuse to play because everyone loses. 

Next month one candidate will win the election and the other will lose. It’s different in marriage, however. In marriage, when one of you loses, you both lose. The only way to win at marriage is to treat each other respectfully, especially when you disagree.

As you watch the next couple of weeks leading up to the election, consider how you approach arguments or disagreements. My challenge to you is to shift your focus away from a win/lose mindset and towards the goal of truly understanding your opponent/partner’s point of view.

It’s where true compromise happens and where healthy marriages live.  

How healthy is your marriage?

ready to have a conversation?

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