Learning how to love someone who has different political views (liberal wife “versus” conservative husband?) isn’t easy, but it is possible. These tips for mixing politics and love will help smooth the rough edges of your relationship.
Whether you’re a “bleeding-heart liberal” or a “hard-hearted conservative”, in these polarized political times it’s easy for conversations to disintegrate into name-calling sessions. Those sessions are normally reserved for the elementary school playground or political debates in caucus or the Senate. It’s the last thing we want in our love relationships and marriages!
If your politics are having a negative impact on your marriage, you may find these tips for loving someone who has different political views helpful. This is a guest post by freelance writer Je’ Czaja…
Before we dive into Je’s tips for couples with different political views, remember that “agreeing to disagree” is the healthiest way to balance politics and love. If you and your partner haven’t figured out how to do this, you may find it useful to read How to Stop Walking on Eggshells in Your Relationship.
“He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.” ~ Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592).
6 Tips for Conservative Vs Liberal Couples
Researchers now say that liberalism and conservatism are influenced by brain structure, and arguments will not change brains; in fact, arguments won’t even change minds. According to a study conducted at University College in London, conservatives have smaller anterior cingulates and larger amygdalas than liberals.
The anterior cingualte is associated with judgments, optimism, and recognition of conflicts. By a complex feedback mechanism, the anterior cingualte checks conflicts against potential threats with the amygdala, which is a part of the brain associated with fear. The implications of the study are that conservatives tend to see any given situation as more threatening than liberals do. While the liberal is motivated to act in optimism that change will be for the better, the conservative is motivated to circle the wagons and fight off the threat.
Regardless of why our political views differ, we can learn how to love each other.
1. Accept your political differences
Conservatives and Liberals must accept that brains cannot be changed by slogans, arguments, or anger. In fact, according to several studies, arguments only harden positions, and logic and reason do not enter into the equation. (Mark R. Lepper, Charles G. Lord, Lee Ross, “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization,” American Psychological Association, 1979.)
What scientists call confirmation bias is simply the phenomenon we observe in those we disagree with, and fail to observe in our selves: “His mind is made up, don’t confuse him with the facts.”
2. Remember how political views affect your perspective – and your love life
A Conservative husband can try to remember that he tends to perceive threats more often than most and that his Liberal wife is not an existential threat. She’s his life partner, and a fellow American who is less cautious and quite optimistic about the possibility of change for the better. The Liberal wife can try to remember that fear is a powerful motivator, and the Conservative is seeking to protect something.
Are the roles of conservative husband and liberal wife pulling you apart? Read 4 Ways to Create Love and Peace in an Unhappy Marriage.
3. Know “different political views” doesn’t mean “wrong political views”
People range on continuums from cowardice to courage to recklessness; from laziness to industriousness to workaholic, and the category into which we place other people depends on our own position on the continuum.
According to Moral Foundations Theory, both conservatives and liberals hold values of fairness, not harming others, respect for traditions, and respect for authority. It’s just that liberals tend to hold fairness and not harming others to be more important than respect for traditions and authority, and conservatives tend to hold the opposite. Knowing how to love someone who has different political views is about accepting that they’re different — not bad or wrong.
4. If possible, avoid hot buttons
This is a solid relationship tip for all issues, not just political views! Hot buttons are words or phrases that cause knee-jerk responses. These can change over time and are used by one party or the other to solidify support for their cause. Current hot buttons are “socialism,” “immigration,” and “health care.”
5. Find common ground, in and out of the political arena
Liberals and Conservatives, husbands and wives, are all Americans. Both want America to be a good, safe place to raise their families and pass on to their grandchildren. Liberals and Conservatives actually need each other for the country to function. A car will not function without both a gas pedal and brakes, and it’s best to keep both a left hand and a right hand on the steering wheel.
A marriage in which both partners have learned how to love each other despite their different political views can be stronger than a marriage between two Conservatives, or two Liberals.
6. Just be someone in love – not a Conservative or Liberal
In the end, we are humans, not conservatives and liberals. We want liberty and the opportunity to live, love, and find meaning in our lives. Arguments will not change minds, but people can change their own minds if they don’t feel threatened. Love, respect, listening, acknowledging another person’s concerns, and a little laughter will do far more to resolve conflicts than 500 pounds of “evidence.”
What do you think – do you love someone who has different political views? Do love and politics – Liberal wives, Conservative husbands – clash? Comments welcome below, but advice on love and politics unavailable at this time.
Written by Je’ Czaja, freelance writer/illustrator and Standup Philosopher. Visit her profile or connect on twitter.