How Do You Make It Work When You and Your Partner Don’t Agree on Politics?


What if you both don't go high when they go low?

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

i vote feminist pin on jacket

I met my husband in a sociology class, and one of the very first things I found out about him is that he is a true-blue raving liberal. I mean, he is actually the guy my conservative parents warned me about. Luckily I’m equally raving, and we quickly found ourselves wrapped up in many a late-night/early morning discussion in which we railed against inequality and sexism and oppression and so on. You get the idea. We kept The Communist Manifesto within reach at all times, guys. It was good.

I wasn’t seriously involved with many people before we met (at ages twenty and twenty-one), so I didn’t have another relationship to compare this experience to—but members of my immediate family are super conservative, and I’m well-versed in how sticky it can be when you’re trying to navigate, say, a Thanksgiving dinner without a mention of the Trump word. In fact, if you guys pray or send out good vibes, go ahead and send one up for me this year. No matter who wins in November, it’s going to be tense. I just can’t get behind the idea that we don’t challenge someone when they toss themselves into the deplorable basket, so to speak. So like I said, it gets… tense.

Every time I find myself at a crossroads with some members of my family (it happens… all the time), I always wonder: How do couples deal when they disagree politically? It can be draining enough when you’re trying to make your partner a little more woke, but what about couples who disagree in bigger ways? What happens if you disagree with your loved one during this explosive election season? I struggle to imagine a world in which I can’t come home and get mad about the latest sexist thing being tossed at Hillary, let alone come to a home where women’s reproductive rights aren’t fully supported—but I know it happens between loving partners, and people have to cope. Potentially better than I do with my family.

So, Dish: Do you and your partner disagree politically? How do you deal? Are you fighting it out with anyone in your family this year? How is it going down?

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! 😊 🎉 🎉).

Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Emily

    I am a pretty serious raving liberal, and while my husband also is a Democrat he’s much less raving… We agree on the most important issues (to us) and so while he’s probably not going to ever campaign for Hil, he knows why I’m With Her and he is too. Unfortunately his parents are Trump supporters. Like, they wanted to vote for Trump even before he got the nomination and they could have voted for someone else. I don’t even know what is going to happen come November. Up to now, we have a very serious rule about not talking politics and it goes pretty smoothly, but just knowing that my FAMILY believes what Trump is saying, has made me totally rethink my opinions of them, and I dunno how to reconcile that.

  • Ashlah

    I am so curious to see the responses to this because I could not do it. I could not be with someone with whom I fundamentally disagreed on such big issues. For me, your political leanings are part and parcel of your basic ideological beliefs, your core moral values. They are a big piece of who you are as a person. And I couldn’t spend my life with someone who didn’t share my core values. We don’t have to be exactly, 100% the same on every issue, but diametrically opposed? Can’t.

    My in-laws have been dealing with this big time this year. He’s a huge Trump supporter. She is decidedly not. The way they “make it work,” it seems, is that she tries not to talk about it. He blusters on, and she tries not to respond, and doesn’t ever bring up her own opinions for discussion. It is not a situation I would be okay with, but she’s settled into the path of least resistance, I think. She’s started having to set some boundaries (“If you wear that All Lives Matter shirt, I will not leave the house with you”), but it is rough.

    • Amy March

      I think that’s the key- you view political leanings as a core value. But not everyone does! I’m pretty politically involved, and there are plenty of issues where I do see it as a fundamental value for me, but not everything- there are also issues where I think I’m right, but I can see how reasonable good people worthy of respect would differ. For me, I think the key is that we need to agree on things that we both think are important, and we need to have an underlying respect for each other when we disagree.

      • Ashlah

        Absolutely, I agree with everything you said. It boils down to people having different levels of necessary overlap with their partners. I might have a big ‘ol list of issues I find incredibly important and need my partner to agree with me on, whereas that list might be shorter or weighted as less important by others.

      • Totch

        I love the way you phrase this, because my politics are a core value and my fiance’s aren’t. Even if he doesn’t disagree with me, sometimes we have conflicts over how much we care. I sometimes find it easier to work through an issue where we’re passionately opposed! ?

        • AP

          This is us, too! Our arguments almost always revolve around the fact that I think he should care more.

      • lildutchgrrl

        issues where I think I’m right, but I can see how reasonable good people worthy of respect would differ.

        I know that there are such issues. I find discussion of them interesting in many cases, because I learn about different worldviews and occasionally challenge or strengthen my own. But those are not the issues which are under scrutiny with the current presidential candidates. The fundamental values that Trump espouses are absolutely contrary to mine, and they are very personal.

      • Mary Jo TC

        This is a great way to put it. What I’ve found hard in my relationship, is that the way you value these things can change over the course of your lifetime. I met my husband when we were 19, and I think we generally agreed about most things then. That was almost 13 years ago. My politics have evolved A LOT since then, and become more important to me, and his have not changed much at all. If I were single today and talked politics with my husband on a first date, I’m not sure I would have gone out with him again. That’s a kind of strange realization to come to.
        It’s also true, and some others have said, that often we can agree on the goals (ex. a prosperous society) and disagree about what’s the best way to achieve those goals (ex. higher vs lower taxes). My pet issue, education, is full of this kind of disagreement. I can concede that even those I disagree with on education do have the best interests of kids at heart, usually. But in some cases the method of achieving goals is just as important, or the method sends a message about values, or another method is not going to work. Like ‘leaving it up to the market’ to pay people a living wage or end discrimination. I guess I’m trying to say that sometimes agreement on the goals isn’t enough.

      • Yeah, within a relationship I think that is a great way to put it: “agree on things that we both think are important, and we need to have an underlying respect for each other when we disagree”

    • sofar

      Yeah, I also could not do it. Even though I know plenty of great couples who do!

      Most of my family is on the opposite side of the political spectrum, and so I’m no stranger for loving someone whose views you hate and avoiding fights. But I need a husband I can bond with over our mutual fear of Trump!

    • Laura

      My parents are like this. Mom is an atheist and politically moderate. Dad is Catholic and VERY conservative. Honestly, they never should have gotten married (or she should have been up-front about her beliefs). Somehow they make it work, but they are so angry and resentful toward each other. It’s such a shame.

      • stephanie

        This is what I always imagine in this scenarios—and what I could never make work.

    • laddibugg

      I’ve dated Republicans (I consider myself mostly Democrat), and it was fine. I could not fathom dating an ardent Trump supporter, though.

    • Tulsaloosa214

      See, I am a Democrat married to a Republican and we literallly Talk. About. Politics. All. The. Time. Its what brought us together. I was active in College Democrats, he in College Republicans. We debate. And all of our debates, withou fail, make me respect him more because he is so rational and well informed. We dont’ always agree. But we share our love for our country and our desire to make it better.

  • louise danger

    fiance and i basically share the same political views, so intra-relationship conflict resolution on this subject is a non-issue. my parents and i do not share the same views, but we sort of set up a united front against it – i always know that i can lean on him (whether it’s a surreptitious hand-squeeze under the Big Holiday Dinner table or venting after the fact), and vice versa.

    • Ashlah

      The hand squeezes and knowing looks are my everything.

      • stephanie

        Yeah… up until this cycle, we were very much ok with hand squeezes and knowing looks, but between Trump in general and my son being more than old enough to realize what my family is saying, that’s a thing of the past. I am actively speaking up, out, and against what my family says, and… I’m not sorry about it. So far we’ve been mostly ok, and everyone has been respectful, but I got INTO IT with my step-dad about disability support (and my son has a disability) and we didn’t all speak for a few weeks.

        • Ashlah

          Oh, that’s interesting that things shifted for you when you had a kid around these discussions. It makes total sense, but I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I’ll be a lot less okay with ignoring the harmful things our families say when they can influence little brains. Pushing back vocally gets to be way more vital.

          • Eenie

            This is one of my biggest concerns with my in laws. I know if I tell my family that I don’t want my (potential hypothetical future) child watching the news at their house they will listen. My in laws…not so much. This goes way beyond just their racist and sexist views, so any and all posts on successfully or unsuccessfully navigating the waters are appreciated!

        • Meghan

          I’d love to hear more about how you deal with interactions with your family now that your son is older. My kiddo is still young enough that what our families say around him doesn’t matter, but my husband and I have already had conversations about what will happen when he’s older. How do we leave him alone with grandparents who might say awful things without him internalizing those things? We still have a few years to figure this out but thus far we have absolutely no ideas about how to deal.

          • MC

            Growing up my mom was very upfront with me & my brother from a young age that her mom (very conservative Catholic) had different beliefs than we did, and that even though she loved us she might say things that made us upset or confused. It helped that we were raised in a UU church that talked a lot about other belief systems, so it always made sense to me that people could believe different things, and also talked about discrimination in a lot of services, so that was an idea I understood at a young age as well.

    • Laura

      Last Thanksgiving with my in-laws, we decided to move beyond hand squeezes/knowing looks and made the whole thing into a game. Mentally tallied the number of racist/sexist/bigoted things said, multiplied by a predetermined $ amount, and sent a nice check to a charity for Syrian refugees once we got home.

      It was a fun secret game between myself and my husband, and it made us both less rage-y about individual comments (though of course they were dissected later in the car). Last Thanksgiving was the height of the Caitlyn Jenner and Syrian refugee news coverage, so I thought that was about as bad as things could get. Hahaha, past me….so naive….2016 is going to be way, way worse.

      • louise danger

        i love this.

  • LJ

    Having at least an 80% agreeance with my partner is really important. With family, “you can’t pick them” so we just Don’t Talk About It and that works fine in most cases (I have some family that works in partisan government so we can talk about it sometimes, but actively seeking out conflict is strongly discouraged).

    I’ve also noticed that I am moving waaaaaay closer to centre economically as I age – and I was a very solid social democrat as a youth. So people do change and evolve and I don’t support removing people from my life due to small differences in political views. UNLESS. They’re evangelists.

    It’s kind of like being a vegan. I don’t care what you eat (believe) so long as you’re not an a**hole about it and don’t try to shove it down people’s throats.

  • Lindsay

    I’m a democrat (love Obama, I’m with Her) and my husband self identifies as libertarian, but has always voted republican. He’s a lot more well educated on politics than I am, and has a much better understanding of financial issues, foreign policy etc, but I care more about social issues. We do disagree on quite a few things, but morally I know we have the same values. He’ll listen to and agree with my women’s rights rants and social causes but throws in the occasional “how we gonna pay for that?” reality check. He does get me to question and really consider my assumptions, as he’s an “all sides of the argument” guy, so I think it brings out some healthy debate in the both of us.
    Our biggest contention comes over the candidates though. He hates Trump (thank the Lord), but he’s a privileged white males who “equally hates Hillary” and cannot bring himself to vote for her. So he’s doing the throwaway vote on Gary Johnson. Sigh. I’ve tried to get him to budge on this, but he starts spewing a litany of all of Hillary’s faults at me and he can’t seem to get past them. I just consider myself lucky that he really really hates Trump, despite his usual republican leanings.

    • J

      I could have written this word for word, including personalities. Basically, my husband and I share the same morals and agree on social issues. But he believes our country’s most critical issue is to vote for financial conservatism/small government, where I believe the most urgent thing is to vote for social change. It can be frustrating but sometimes enlightening, and it isn’t a core conflict in our lives or beliefs.

      • Lindsay

        Right. Sometimes we have to stop debates and agree to disagree, but he has also taught me a lot and I appreciate the thinking he forces me to do. But like you said, it’s not a core conflict and our day-to-day morals and beliefs line up so we get through the political stuff

        • honeycomehome

          I say this really nicely, but I don’t think you share “core values.”

          Votes against Clinton are votes against women, votes against minorities, votes against affordable higher ed, votes against paternal leave, votes against the environment and the Paris deal, votes against gun control, and votes against humane immigration reform.

          He values “not Hillary” more than he values those things. Do you? What value is he voting FOR, exactly?

          • Amy March

            Was that really nice? Cause to me it seemed less really nice and more unnecessarily telling her that her husband is a bad person and she must be too for loving him. Isn’t think post more about “how do we do this” not “remember Trump is evil”? Like, sure, he is, but not necessarily going to learn much if you lead with that.

          • honeycomehome

            NO. I don’t think he’s a bad person. And I hope you notice that I didn’t say that.

            I’m arguing that you can’t claim to value women’s rights and then vote for someone who isn’t going to support women’s issues. I can’t say I value the environment and vote for someone who doesn’t believe in government regulations against pollution (Gary Johnson, or Trump, who a GJ vote is effectively for).

            I do not, at all, think anyone is a bad person for loving someone with different views. I’m just pointing out values are not “things I feel positive towards.” Values are actions.

          • Amy March

            And I’m saying stop telling a stranger you don’t know that she and her husband don’t share core values when she has literally just explained to you how they do. And if you must, don’t pretend it’s a nice thing.

          • Lindsay

            There is such a thing as a socially liberal republican. They may not be what’s currently represented recent republican candidates but they exist. As I mentioned in my original post, my husband is big into the economy and foreign policy and a candidate’s experience and plans for those issues are hugely important to him and he usually sides republican on those issues.

            My husband does have the same core values as me though. He believes in the women’s rights, gay rights, black lives matter movements. His gun control stance is more conservative than mine, but he recognizes that it’s a problem that needs addressing. We agree on discussions of how to raise our children which includes education reform. As I also mentioned though, his white male privilege let’s him place the economy and foreign policy on higher pedestals than these social issues. He disagrees with Hillary on those issues, so he’s not going to vote for her. He is definitely angry that he doesn’t side with any candidate’s FP/Economy views which is why he is “throwing away” his vote.

            Do I wish social issues were just as important to him as they are me? Yes, of course. But again, his male white privilege lets him think although he believes in the same social issues as me, his vote is not going to change things in that area. I will say though that he does value them “enough” (or enough for me) in that he recognizes Trump is a terrible person. And even if Trump had an excellent plan for the economy, my husband would not vote for him because he is a bigot/racist/unqualified etc etc etc.

            I think your response kind of makes a savior out of Hillary Clinton. She is definitely the best candidate at the moment in my opinion, but she is not every person’s perfect candidate. Just like in every other election, people can agree and disagree on various points of a candidate’s platform. And if they disagree on the points most important to them, then they’ll vote for someone else.

          • honeycomehome

            I don’t think Hillary is a savior. I think that if you care about progressive issues (if they are at your core), she’s the only shot we have at those advancing even a little bit.

            “…his white male privilege let’s him place the economy and foreign policy on higher pedestals than these social issues.”

            This is what I’m saying. His core values, the things that he cares about enough to ACT on, are “the economy and foreign policy” and “not Hillary.”

            Those aren’t yours.

            Even if he is personally thoughtful and kind and wonderful and smart, and totally deserving of love (which I think he is), he doesn’t share your core values.

    • emmers

      We’re similar- he identifies as libertarian but is probably more of a true swing voter. We value a lot of the same things, but he’s at this point planning to vote for GJ. I get so upset about the GJ thing, so we’ve had to stop talking about it!

      • Lindsay

        Me too! He claims that since we’re in a blue state (MA), it doesn’t matter cause Hillary will win our state. But in this election, I feel every vote does actually matter! Crazy shake ups are happening and I see plenty of Trump signs out there

        • emmers

          We’re in more of a swing state (VA), and I get so angsty/angry thinking about what will happen if Trump wins. It’s terrifying, but I don’t think i can sway him on this one, so for the health of our marriage, I just can’t talk about the GJ issue!

          • emmers

            & for the record, he’s open to talking about it, but I can’t do it in a productive way.

      • Sarah

        my husband has been a registered Republican for ages, active in Republican politics, but is really a Libertarian who just believes he can effect change from within. Think the last mainstream candidate he voted for was Dole in 96 (def not GW or Romney) and is a huge GJ supporter. Like, we actually met GJ twice in 2011-12 at various engagements when he was running as a Republican. all this is to say, we don’t agree on several things and I think his age (being 20+ years older than me) and upbringing make him less passionate about social issues. But we have the same core values and I skew a bit more to the right on things like capitalism, tax policy, etc. I’m not registered with a political party and can respect him always “voting his conscience.” But we’re in MD and pretty much bright blue no matter what so I’m not personally worried he’s “hurting” Hillary. I get really annoyed when the left and right blame third party candidates for hurting them. If states had less oppressive restricitons concering ballot access for these candidates it would force the Rs and Ds to put up better candidates.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I’m in almost exactly the same boat here. My problem is that I have started to view my husband’s libertarianism as proceeding directly from his willful blindness to his privilege and denial of empathy to people who don’t have his advantages. Yes, it’s definitely better that we agree on social issues and racial issues and things like mass incarceration and legalization of marijuana and we both hate Trump, but it’s so hard to see our political disagreements as rooted in fundamental value differences. We each see ourselves as better informed than the other (except that he concedes I know more than him about education policy), and we’re definitely looking at different media that flatters our own beliefs.

      • Her Lindsayship

        The media comment is SO important. My fiancé often comments that I only read very liberal news sources, and he and I are actually on the same page politically, but he’s very careful to read from multiple sources about issues that are important to him. I know he’s right, and I should care more about getting a balanced perspective, but I also don’t want to feel the rage that surfaces whenever I read something from Fox news. I wish the media weren’t so split.

        • Lea

          There are other conservative sources besides Faux News.

          • Allison

            Can you name some? I don’t trust election news from liberal sites (I’m sure they’re just as skewed as Fox) but I’m not aware of any conservative sites that don’t make me want to throw my computer out the window (Breitbart for example). I’d be interested in expanding my reading.

          • Amy March

            Wall Street Journal is my sweet spot of “conservative leaning” and “not rage inducing.”

          • Allison

            Isn’t that behind a firewall? I feel like I click on interesting sounding news articles from facebook and then can’t actually read them.

          • Amy March

            Yeah it is. I buy it on paper on weekends!

          • Allison

            My parents get the Economist which is interesting because it’s conservative in a British way, so depending on the subject can be quite conservative or quite liberal (say on health care). Also it’s good to read the news from a less US-centric view. But I only read that when I visit them.

          • Her Lindsayship

            Yes, that probably wasn’t fair of me – see above comment about how I’m not doing well at this. But I do think it’s worth pursuing, so maybe I’ll start picking up WSJ like @amymarch:disqus suggested.

          • SarahRose472

            National Review is another to check out.

      • stephanie

        “My problem is that I have started to view my husband’s libertarianism as proceeding directly from his willful blindness to his privilege and denial of empathy to people who don’t have his advantages.” This.. is very much how I feel about Libtertarianism.

        • honeycomehome

          Just going to quote and say exactly this! That is a great way to sum up the heart of libertarianism.

          • Lea

            Well, libertarians would disagree with that characterization. They would tell you that they have empathy, but find liberal solutions to be misguided and often making the situation worse.

        • rg223

          I think it’s unfair to paint all Libertarians with this brush, though. I know some libertarians who are libertarians in part BECAUSE of their empathy for people who don’t have their advantages. Not to get into tons of specifics, but for example, the libertarians I know are also pacifist, and their pacifism goes hand-in-hand with libertarianism. I think ALL Americans have unacknowledged or unknown privilege, no matter what their political party.

          • Mary Jo TC

            Please explain this to me, because my husband says the same thing, and I just don’t get it.

          • rg223

            Hmm, about the pacifism specifically? My friends believe governments shouldn’t cause people’s deaths, which overlaps with both libertarianism and pacifism. It’s not exactly equivalent, so saying it “goes hand in hand” was overstating on my part. But I can see how those ideas are more in agreement with each other than not. Is that what you meant?

          • Mary Jo TC

            I can understand the pacifism, and my husband would too, and we would both take the idea of how governments shouldn’t cause people’s deaths to police brutality, Black Lives Matter, etc, as well. What I don’t get is how libertarians can think of themselves as empathetic when they say that rich people’s right to keep their money and pay low taxes outweighs poor people’s right to have health care and housing.

      • AP

        ‘My problem is that I have started to view my husband’s libertarianism as proceeding directly from his willful blindness to his privilege and denial of empathy to people who don’t have his advantages.'<— THIS.

        My husband is willfully politically ignorant. He doesn't find politics interesting and says things like, "all politicians are liars and everything is rigged, so why not just focus on my own life?" He didn't even vote regularly before we got together. Which, PRIVILEGE. If he knew what a libertarian was, that's what he'd call himself. He's all about the bootstraps and personal responsibility, and I'm pretty sure I'm the first person in his life who's ever made him talk and think about systemic problems and what it means to contribute to a functioning society.

        But we share many of the same values, and he's open to exploring his ideas and beliefs. He's come a long way from 'playing devil's advocate' and other mansplain-y things he did when we first got together, which shows me he's listening to me. At the end of the day, our political views aren't a reflection of who we are as people. So I'm playing the long game. I've told him that as long as he votes, I don't care who he votes for (and I mean it), but to at least take it seriously.

      • Sarah

        Sounds very similar to my spouse….but he’s somewhat willing to learn/amend beliefs at times. He is of the mindset that “lower taxes will help poor people keep more money in their pockets, less money going into IRS regulations are better for everyone, etc”. He can be almost Pollyana in some respects….

  • Laura

    I’m in a “mixed relationship” and honestly the hardest thing about it is demonstrated in this article and these comments. Though it can certainly be a challenge, the judgement I feel from other people and the emphasis they put on our political differences creates more pressure and tension than what actually exists between the two of us. People are constantly asking us how we make it work, saying things like “Isn’t it hard to be with someone who doesn’t believe what you believe?” or “how are you going to raise your kids?” It puts our political differences in the forefront of our relationship, and it seems that most people think this is the most insurmountable difference in relationships.But it isn’t!

    We agree on our core values and morals, but we both think our party has the best ideas of how to create and manage our society. It definitely leads to heated arguments sometimes, but I also think it creates a iron sharpens iron situation. He keeps me sharp about my views and unlike friends who share the same views as me, he questioned my thought process and has made me more thoughtful about how I reach my conclusions overall. And, there’s even been times where he truly has proven me wrong or changes my mind on some things and vice versa. Being in different political parties has helped to improve our communication skills and teach us how important it is to fight fairly. It’s also helped me to be more tolerant with people who are on the other side of the aisle overall, since the person I love most thinks that way. I would actually recommend that people seek out relationships with opposing viewpoints, because it’s helped our relationship mature and keep an undercurrent of growth through intellectual challenge.

    • LJ

      It’s so true that differences are only as important as people make them. My fiancé is outgoing, but VERY introverted. His “alone time” is non-negotiable and necessary, whereas I actively resist alone time and am constantly seeking out social situations and contact – VERY extroverted. People ask us how on earth we can manage to have any social life together when he needs a large chunk of his non-work time to be solitary (or small-group) and I need that same time to be full of humans. You know what? We manage! I have my friends or activities that I go hang out with/partake in when he needs his alone time. He comes out with me to parties or concerts more than he would if he was alone. We both respect each other’s needs while challenging each other – he’s also been balancing my extroversion and getting me more comfortable with being “chill” and low-key.

      Different values mean different results.

      • sofar

        Relationship twins! Only I’m the introvert, he’s the extrovert.

        As a result, we have very separate social lives, so that he can go to a bar with 50 bajillion people and I can hang out in a small group with like-minded friends.

        Husband and I then hang out together doing the activities we BOTH enjoy.

        We’ve gotten a surprising amount of blow-back — and a lot of people assume we are having problems in our relationship. Lots of people are like, “OMG HOW DO YOU SURVIVE when you’re SOOOO different?”

        We figure it out as we go along, just like any other couple.

        • LJ

          Totally. I would also put forward the point that this ensures that him and I maintain a degree of independence and individuality in our lives, as opposed to merging completely….. I feel like it would be easy to ‘disappear’ into each other in an unhealthy way if we did EVERYTHING together, and having different personality requirements makes it much easier to maintain a healthy amount of separation.

    • Amy March

      I think there’s a lot of “how could you possibly” about politics now than there used to be, and a lot more “oh of course that’s fine” about religious differences, which is a difference I find very interesting for what it says about where we locate our core values in our lives.

      • Katharine Parker

        This reminds me of the bit in “Anne’s House of Dreams” where Miss Cornelia announces she will marry a man who is a Liberal, but at least is he is Presbyterian – “Politics is for this world, but religion is for both.”

        Definitely an interesting insight into where we locate our core values, as you say.

        • Lexipedia

          I need to read all of these again. <3

      • Meg Keene

        I should weigh in here that religious differences are hard, and remain hard, though the outside world does often act like they’re easy. I converted years ago and they’re still hard. So I’d never say that isn’t a significant issue we’re always grappling with our relationship. It totally is.

        Which makes it more confusing to me when people don’t find political differences to be hard. We’re very political animals, and we struggle and fight when we have a difference on a small political issue. Big ones? Can’t even imagine.

        • Amy March

          Oh I totally agree that they are hard- personally I find them much harder than political differences, because mine at least are the things I believe in spite of reason and logic and information. But no one seems to bat an eye anymore at a Catholic marrying a Methodist, and in my mother’s day that would have been a shocking “how do they do it” move.

          • Meg Keene

            My parents are Baptist and Episcopalian, and they’ve struggled forever so, there you go.

          • idkmybffjill

            I think the difference in what Amy is saying is not whether they are hard, but how people react. People these days seem to be much more apt to SAY, “How do they do it” about a house politically divided. And less so to SAY that about a religiously divided house, as much work as that still may be.

          • rg223

            This depends on your social circle as well though. There was some hoopla in my family about recent interfaith marriages (including mine).

        • JC

          Thanks for affirming that religious differences are hard. I had to lay down some boundaries this weekend to protect my Methodist-Atheist relationship, and I think it took others by surprise.

          • Anon Preggo

            Recently found out I’m pregnant (yay!!!) and was discussing child care options with my husband. Unfortunately there are very few day care centers in our neighborhood; the only one we’ve heard of nearby is in a church that you have to become a member of in order to enroll your child.

            “It might not be a big deal, they may just have the kids sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ once in a while,” said my beloved Christian-raised, Atheist-by-choice husband.

            “MY CHILD IS NOT SINGING ‘JESUS LOVES ME,'” I said. (I’m Jewish.)

            Let’s just say this conversation is not exactly resolved yet.

          • JC

            Congratulations!! And ugh, I’m sorry that something that should be really exciting to talk about is becoming such a strain. I would be the one saying “It’s not a big deal,” but you’re right to object to such a forced situation.

            Also: As a past active member of several congregations with affiliated preschools, I think forcing preschool families to become members is just shitty. The preschool is there to serve the larger needs of the community, not the membership numbers of the church. Talk about exclusive policy. Even if there weren’t broader religious differences for you to consider, that wouldn’t be a preschool high on my choice list either.

          • I mean…can’t the preschool decide if they are there to serve “the larger needs of the community” or just their church community? And if they want to only serve their church community, membership seems a logical way to do it, and less invasive than, for example, requiring a signed statement of belief from the parents.

          • JC

            I’m going to make a sweeping generalization here: All services– both spiritual and otherwise in nature– offered by a religious institution should be for the greatest amount of good. I recognize that others might disagree or search for more nuance, but this is a fundamental tenant of my religion. That means that while a religious institution can decide if a service is needed in the community (i.e. are there enough preschools? Opening a new preschool maybe isn’t needed.), they can’t decide who deserves to benefit from that service. Making those kind of prejudgements puts gatekeepers in the way of touching new lives. So while yes, you’re right that “if they want to only serve their church community, membership seems a logical way to do it,” I think that’s a misplaced priority to begin with.

      • I think this is a really great sociological insight — as you clarified below, it’s not so much what is or isn’t hard in a relationship, but what society *expects* to be hard. Religion has generally moved out of the realm of “must-share” into the “you do your thing, I’ll do mine” realm, whereas politics has moved in the opposite direction. The Miss Cornelia quote below sums up the early 20th-century viewpoint so well!

    • savannnah

      “We agree on our core values and morals, but we both think our party has the best ideas of how to create and manage our society.” I think this statement gets to the heart of why people constantly question the hardship of a politically-mixed relationship. For many, I think the assumption is that core values and morals dictate politics and that they cannot be separated by differentiating the approach rather than the underlying beliefs.

      • stephanie

        I would say that my core values and morals absolutely dictate my political beliefs, so that’s for sure where I was coming at with this.

        • CP2011

          Yes, me too. I see such a strong contrast in the morals and worldviews presented by the platforms and spokespeople of both major parties that I would find it difficult to reconcile that. Things like tax codes and states’ rights are one thing to disagree on, but marriage equality, conversion therapy, reproductive rights and education are another.

          • Meg Keene

            Right, exactly. If we have different views on economic policy, no biggie. But feminism? Race? Poverty? Those are my core values and morals.

        • savannnah

          Yeah- I mean I hold that assumption as well. 2nd wave feminism has a lot of things going on but they weren’t wrong when they said the political is personal.

      • AP

        This is the lesson I learned from living for three years with my best friend, who also happened to be the chair of the college republicans at our very conservative school. I was/am liberal. We used to spend hours picking each other’s brains about politics, and we never once fought about an issue. We were genuinely interested in learning from each other, and what it came down to is that we had all the same core values, just different beliefs about the best way to solve our country’s problems (basically small vs. large government.) She’s since moved to the middle as the republicans have become more extreme, and she’s definitely not a Trump supporter, but I still don’t think she’d call herself liberal. She’s probably a true swing voter. We get along just fine.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          We should all have access to a friendship like that.

          • AP

            Truth. We say all the time how grateful we are to be able to discuss hard things in a civil way, and to have each other as an outlet for that.

    • KK

      Agreed. I think for a while for me it wasn’t even people outside our relationship asking how we make it work/how we will raise our kids, but I would ask it of myself in my own head. Over the years, I’ve come to see how many things we fundamentally agree on, how what we disagree on is mostly the details/methods, and that we both have grown and remained open to the other side while the rest of society/media/politics seems to be increasingly polarized and “my-way-or-the-highway”. Doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge at times, but I do think it is mostly rewarding!

    • stephanie

      This is really enlightening! I like this: “He keeps me sharp about my views and unlike friends who share the same views as me, he questioned my thought process and has made me more thoughtful about how I reach my conclusions overall.” because we also do this for each other (even though we tend to fall close together on the political spectrum).

    • em

      Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by this part… “We agree on our core values and morals, but we both think our party has the best ideas of how to create and manage our society”?

      Because I think I almost understand what you mean, or theoretically I do, but I still can’t wrap my head around it in specific terms.My marriage made up of two people who are very different in lots of ways but who share core values, so I totally understand the beauty and growth it can bring to a relationship. But I also believe those core values directly inform my politics.

      There are lots of people talking about the politics=values connection, and like I say it’s easy for me to understand that. But I also really identify with your relationship in general (two super different people) and so I’m interested to really understand how this works for you, practically/specifically.

      • Not the poster you were asking, but I’ve seen this among friends, and the example I like to use is this: both sides might agree that people living in poverty is bad, and we’d like to help the poor become not-poor anymore. But one side believes that the best way to achieve this is through welfare and other government programs to help the poor get back on their feet, while the other side believes that those programs won’t help the root cause, and what we should really focus on is making more jobs available.

        Or take the idea of “fairness.” Everybody generally likes the concept of fairness, and thinks it should play a big part in society. But one side might believe “fair” means, “literally treating everyone the same, no matter their situation” while the other side believes that fair means, “getting everyone onto an equal playing field, e.g. helping the disadvantaged people a bit more.”

        Not all issues have this dynamic (especially social issues, where differing moral values often ARE at the core of them), but you can find it in a lot of policy discussions.

  • MCL

    In short after the first “who are you going to vote for and why” question we don’t talk politics. I’m not going to change him, and he’s not going to change me. We learned that pretty quickly. On occasion we will discuss broad topics, but both of us have to be in an open mindset. If we aren’t it gets frustrating fast.

    When we really differ, like this year, we agree to disagree and not flaunt our political beliefs.

  • Anon

    Right now I’m just not dealing. I’m trying to remember the things I love about my partner, the things that drew me to him originally, the things that I know are there underneath. But they are getting harder to see as the rhetoric becomes more and more polarizing, and the gutwrenching horror of a potential Trump presidency looms closer. Though melodramatic, it’s not an exaggeration to say this is tearing us apart, and I’ve almost lost hope it will be any better after the election. It’s so hard because we agree on so many core values and have made it through the last three election cycles with no significant challenges. This time is just so different though.

    • ART

      I am really sorry you are dealing with this. I hope that after the election you won’t have the burden of that decision at the voting booth looming over you, and it will be easier to discuss or at least think about your differences without that. I can only imagine how hard it must be when the stakes feel so high – and I’m not saying they aren’t – but maybe it won’t feel so dire once the decision-making part is over. Take care of yourself <3

      • Anon

        Thank you both so much for the thoughtful words. I’m trying to be hopeful that we can move through some of this after the election, but your kind words amidst the horridness are invaluable.

    • Shawna

      So sorry to hear you’re in this boat, anon. I hope you’re able to lean on friends or look into counseling, if you’re not already doing it. Perhaps having a mediator who can help you manage this aspect of your lives so you can find the places to agree to disagree or to help him see how much the prospect of a Trump presidency scares you (rightfully so, says I) and care for you through it. There are ways to differ on political beliefs, but it does get really hurtful when the political is deeply personal (as feels especially so in this election). The idea is not to get him to change his beliefs, but to make sure you two are strong together despite the changes in the outside world. And if the apart is going to be better than the together, you’ll need support through that too. I don’t know, I don’t have answers, but I have to hope there’s a way. Big hugs.

  • JC

    When we get down to it, his and my political beliefs are almost identical. We differ a lot in focus (mine is workplace equality and reproductive justice, and his is climate change policy), but the core values underneath it all are the same. Where we do have a hard time communicating, sometimes, is in our styles and processes for coming to our conclusions. He is always very concerned with “hearing both sides” and hearing conservative viewpoints in order to determine that he really doesn’t agree with them. My method is to seek out underrepresented, often more radical opinions and give them more weight than tradition has yielded. It’s really helpful for me to understand why both of our styles work for us (but won’t work for the other one): He grew up in a politically split household, so he feels it is his duty to never initially side with one “parent” (now one political viewpoint) over an another on first glance. He basically doesn’t want to let anyone down, and both parents held loving, rather moderate views in all cases. In my experience, viewpoints that differed from my own were directed at me in hurtful ways, that is, political ideologies that sought to tear me down as a woman. Because the attacks were (and still are) personal, I don’t find myself inclined to seek out that kind of harm, and I look for nontraditional voices instead.

    • Lorraine

      I’m very much a “hear all sides” person too.

      It has nothing to do with life experiences for me; it’s just how my mind works as an INTP. The other reason is that I know that some beliefs seem to make sense on the surface until you look deeper. A lot of facts in life are counter-intuitive, or else the Freakonomics books wouldn’t exist.

      • JC

        Yes absolutely, and I’m sure his mind works similarly to yours, whereas mine is quite different. That’s a great perspective to bring to the table too.

    • MC

      I’m with you – I’m all for “hearing all sides,” but not if one of the sides is anti-woman or discriminatory against LGBTQ folks, immigrants, and other marginalized groups, then I don’t particularly feel the need to listen to that side.

      • stephanie

        Yes! For me.. my conservative family is very sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. I can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone who also is.

        • Natalieavech

          But here’s the thing. My husband, and in-laws, hold views that many lliberals consider anti-woman. But I don’t see it that way. And I disagree with them on many things about reproductive rights. But that doesn’t make them anti-woman or sexist.

  • Alyssa Andrews

    My guy and I are generally on the same page (both registered Dems, yada yada), but my parents who have been together since teenagers differ. My dad’s republican (but refused to vote in primaries because he couldn’t bring himself to support anyone running — and still doesn’t), my mom’s democrat, and I think their way of coping with it comes down to respecting each other as people first and foremost and simply don’t put a lot of weight or emphasis into their political leanings. They come together over financial issues as they both lean towards the fiscal conservative side of things, and differ on social issues, where my mom is very liberal and opinionated about it, and my dad — well I suppose “apathetic” is the best word to describe his stance. He’s never criticized mine or my mom’s opinions about social issues, but he simply cares more about fiscal issues than anything else, which makes sense since he’s worked for the Federal Reserve his whole adult life.

    I honestly don’t think I personally could be with someone who wasn’t liberal, because reproductive rights, social services and LGBTQ rights are very core and non-negotiable issues for me, but I admire my parents’ relationship and the way they tolerate each others’ differences.

    • stephanie

      “I honestly don’t think I personally could be with someone who wasn’t liberal, because reproductive rights, social services and LGBTQ rights are very core and non-negotiable issues for me” same.

  • Totch

    I’m an American living in Canada with a Canadian fiance, and we generally hold the same values but often disagree on the finer points of a ballot (eg. dude loves a protest vote, I do not). Sometimes it feels like I’m the household’s American vote and he’s our Canadian vote. It’s a bit of a weird balance, since we’ll probably live in both countries during our lifetime.

    We talk through the issues together, but ultimately my vote is my own (understanding that my choice impacts him) and vice versa.

    • Alexis

      Ha. Protest votes were a touchy topic in my household this time last year

  • Her Lindsayship

    I also come from a conservative family, but my sisters and I are way more on the left. So I grew up with very different opinions from a lot of people around me, but we just avoided the subject like good Southerners. When I was 19 and really sweet and curious about the world, I moved away and ended up in a serious relationship with a very conservative man 11 years older than me. He and I disagreed on a lot of things, and we had heated conversations from the start, but back then I found that invigorating I guess. I was also in a little bit of denial about him – I secretly believed we were closer to the same page, and that he was just indoctrinated into a bunch of hateful thought, but that he didn’t really feel that way himself. (I don’t know why I gave him that credit when he grew up in New England and had a decade on me to get past any indoctrination, whereas I grew up in the South and was already shedding those roots. Remember I was naive!) We didn’t make things work. He and I were both convinced that the other one shared our views, and when confronted with our differences, we yelled at each other and then just sort of got tired and pulled the wool back over our eyes. It was a very depressing time in my life. It also didn’t work for other reasons that I won’t get into, but after that I knew I’d never get into a relationship with someone else whose beliefs ran so counter to mine. For me, my political views are too strongly woven into the fabric of my personality and how I interact with the world.

    Thankfully my fiancé and I are completely on the same page (and the same age!). We still debate some topics, but we have the same core beliefs, and I think it would be extremely difficult to make a partnership work otherwise. Of course, this is all just my situation, and I recognize that it’s different for others. But I tried that polar opposites game, and it made me miserable.

  • lamarsh

    Wuf. With the debate coming up tonight I needed this thread. My fiance is a republican, I am a democrat and this is the first election we’ve gone through together. He is not voting for Trump, but also hates Hillary in a very Republican, the Clintons are terrible people kind of way. Cue, so so many disagreements about her emails, their foundation, etc. My fiance and I agree on moral and ethical issues which we discuss broadly, but we do not agree on how the government should go about trying to promote these values. Our difference in political beliefs bother me much more than they do him.

    I never dreamed that the love of my life would turn out to be conservative, but here we are. It is especially strange since my entire family on both sides ranges from very liberal to moderate liberal, so I actually had pretty limited interactions with conservatives until I arrived at law school. I completely agree that the hardest part is dealing with friends and family who think all conservatives are bad people and are surprised that we can make it work. I like to remind myself that I dated several men who agreed with me on every single political issue, but treated me terribly, so the two aren’t remotely correlated. That being said, I am still counting down the days till November 9 when the polarizing nature of this election will not be thrust in our faces every. single. day.

    • Meg Keene

      Girl, solidarity. This sounds rough.

      We both grew up in a very conservative area, so we’re really… fluent in both. I’d struggle dating a conservative, but I find it really crazy when people just assume all conservatives or liberals are bad people.

  • KK

    Love this topic – I think I wrote in to Ask APW about this exact issue on a bad day in a previous election cycle. I think we’ve actually improved since then.
    I’m a traditional liberal Democrat from a generally Democrat family, my husband grew up in a very conservative, religious Republican family. He is now socially liberal, but has retained his fiscal conservatism and general desire for smaller government. He’s not as passionate about political issues as I am in general and particularly these days feels pretty unimpressed by the Republican party, so this election season has actually been easier than some. (He’s not a Trump supporter)
    We have a few techniques for surviving the election season / marriage in general:
    1) Try to quickly shutdown any politics discussions with his parents because they are not productive.
    2) We do enjoy discussing the issues and policies, but we try to stop and agree to disagree if things get too heated or if it is starting to feel personal. I think my husband is better at this, and I have been improving, but it’s still a challenge.
    3) As a liberal in this polarized world, it’s easy to internalize that conservatives are inherently evil, racist, greedy, and whole bunch of other ‘deplorable’ things. But I remind myself that my partner is not those things, I wouldn’t have married him if he were! He wants what is best for our country and our citizens, as do I. Often we agree on the end goal, but disagree on the means to get there. Of course the means can be very important, but for me personally, I’ve found it’s important to remind myself that there is a difference between politics and fundamental beliefs. We don’t *fundamentally* disagree on much, but we do disagree on the politics of achieving things. During the tough days of election season, that reminder is enough to stay sane.

    Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Pantsuit Politics, a podcast made by two informed women, one from the left and one from the right. I actually think the one from the right is better at communicating her ideas, and she is admittedly quite moderate, so I often do find myself agreeing with her point of view. My husband and I enjoy listening together and pausing to discuss. Not only does the podcast cover a lot of interesting topics, it has been a good reminder/teacher about how to calmly discuss politics with nuance and understanding. Keep it nuanced, y’all!

    • p.

      If you were up to it (and if APW liked the idea), I would love to read more about your experiences with your in-laws and how you’ve learned to handle it. You say your husband is better at stopping a discussion of it gets too heated or personal, and I’d love to know more about how that happens and what happens next. What does he say? Do you have scripts? Do you have to try repeatedly to shut down the discussion or do your in-laws seem to get it and accept it? Do the two of you tag-team it,
      where one says, “I think we need to agree to disagree here” and the other jumps in to redirect the conversation?

      Many people here struggle with differences with their in-laws and it seems to me that your experience might also help people who are dealing with disagreements about weddings and parenting as well as politics.

      • KK

        Ah, I think I was a little unclear. My husband and I like discussing politics with each other, and are learning better when to stop – that’s what I meant in #2.
        But we never like discussing with his parents because so many of their political beliefs are tied to their religion that there is not much to discuss – they are not open to other ideas and we are not open to their religion. That’s why I don’t see any discussions as productive. I think they also recognize that, so they don’t try to discuss politics much either. Usually his dad might make some comment that could lead to a political discussion and his mom will say “let’s not go there”, we all chuckle awkwardly and move on to discussing weekend plans or some other safe topic.

        • Eenie

          Ha, that was me! Learning to just leave the room was SUCH a huge step for me. I’m very very very outspoken and passionate. My husband actually noticed when I started doing this because it was so different from how I normally act. It’s really improved our overall relationship. I’ll save my standing up and fighting for another time (probably when we have kids and the kids are there hearing the utter non sense {crying face emoji}).

          • Eh

            When I was a kid my parents would debrief us on the way home after our grandfather said racist things. They would tell us that what he said was not ok. I would prefer that my inlaws not say the racist/Islamophobic/homophobic/sexist things in front of my daughter, unfortunately that means challenging them occasionally, especially when redirecting the conversation doesn’t work.

          • Eenie

            Oh that’s a great strategy. I assumed my strategy will involve a bigger discussion of how we can love people without agreeing with them on everything and that stating your opinion is allowed if you do it respectfully, etc. I like the idea of having a general discussion afterwards where they can ask questions freely.

          • Eh

            My FIL recently said something extremely Islamophobic (more or less that Muslims are going to kill us all) in front of my 15 year old niece. The people around him were able to redirect the conversation and then I mentioned it to my SIL (niece’s mom) who was sitting at the other end of the table in case her daughter asked her any questions or so she could follow up with her.

            I think that the fact that my parents never challenged my grandfather made me think that it was ok for old people to say things that that. I know it was in a different time and place than we are now. I still need to find a nice way to challenge people (I like your “stating you opinion is allowed if you do it respectfully”).

          • Eenie

            Yeah, I hear ya. I just like how my current strategy works. My FIL has made comments before about not talking about certain subjects (because I’m ready with facts and figures to back up my positions and they are not so it’s a frustrating conversation for them). Hopefully his stance on that won’t change, and we can all just agree that we don’t discuss these things. I know they discuss more stuff when my husband visits alone, but I know he would call out the offensive behavior if our kid was there.

            Your comment reminded me that my grandma was actually really racist and my parents stance was this is not ok, we’ve asked your grandma to not say these things but she is an adult and doesn’t have to listen to us. We want you to have a relationship with her though so we’re going to look past this in this specific instance.

    • CP2011

      Thanks for sharing. This setup makes sense to me. A teensy tiny part of me feels sympathetic to fiscal conservatives who are socially liberal but vote Republican. Their options have grown slimmer and slimmer. But most of me just thinks, more Democrats in the making!

  • Leela

    We’re both liberals, and we’re both With Her. Where we differ is that I feel a visceral terror of a Trump presidency. This fear is inspiring me to do things I’m VERY afraid of (phone banking at HRC HQ, even getting on a plane [!] to FL to serve as a volunteer attorney during early voting) — because I’m slightly LESS afraid of those things.

    So while we agree on the issues, we disagree about whether we need to do something right this very minute. I think we do. He doesn’t. And I wish he did.

    • stephanie

      Same!! I started phone banking for H this year even though it really scared me, because I am SO scared of Trump.

      • CP2011

        I’ve been phone banking too (at HQ and at home) but I’m not convinced it’s accomplishing much. Do you feel like it’s made a difference? I’m kind of doing it because I feel like I should do everything I can, and that’s one thing I can do.

  • Mary Jo TC

    Have you read those articles that say the biggest predictor of whether someone will support Trump is authoritarian sympathies? That is my dad. He visited a month ago and we really got into it. He started the conversation asking what I think of Trump and when I sputtered that he’s racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc, he asked me what the evidence is for any of that, a question I found maddening because I know he hasn’t been living under a rock. He didn’t even try to convince me, and I don’t think he’s necessarily thrilled with Trump, didn’t vote for him in the primary, but he’s a diehard Republican and thinks Clinton should be in jail. My most charitable reading of the conversation is that he was kind of hoping I would convince him, but my rhetoric was probably too inflammatory to do that. We also talked about Black Lives Matter, and he basically said that anyone who disobeys a cop deserves to die. WTF. He listens to conservative propaganda on Cincinnati talk radio all day. I was heartened to read that the Cincinnati Enquirer has endorsed Clinton, the first Democrat they’ve endorsed in like a century. He reads that paper every day. He might not be able to take the anti-Trump message coming from me, but maybe from a paper he trusts and generally agrees with.
    (Don’t worry too much about the impact of his vote, though, y’all. He’s in KY, not OH. That’s perhaps my only consolation.)

    • Ashlah

      Your dad sounds exactly like my father-in-law. It’s hard.

    • ART

      Oh, the “show me how anything Trump has said is racist” is the most infuriating thing because I am reduced to this unintelligible steaming tea kettle of R U SERIOUS?!

      • JC

        It is so frustrating. It is also related to (though not exactly the same) the strategy of forcing people who are harmed by policy to prove over and over again how harmed they are. I’m thinking of pressuring women who have had abortions to tell their stories, in detail, to persuade others that their legal medical procedure was a legal medical procedure. Or trans folks being forced to out themselves in order to fight for the right to go to the bathroom in peace. It’s a strategy just dripping in privilege.

        • ART

          You know, that’s a really helpful characterization, thank you. I should work on a more articulate response to that sort of thing with your comment in mind.

          • JC

            Yeah, it’s not easy, and I definitely don’t have a good answer. Activists and academics are a lot better at saying “I’m not your 101 class,” meaning it’s not my job to give you an intro into how to treat POC, LGBTQ folks, etc. They’re a great starting point for absorbing some language. I have a hard time when, when I call someone out for being sexist/misogynistic, they get mad and say that I should have sat them down and explained things conversationally. But it’s not my job to explain sexism to you! Sigh.

          • Lea

            Unpopular opinion, but I personally think the “It’s not my job to teach you” meme is completely counterproductive and hostile. I don’t know what people think they are gaining by saying it.

            They initiate a conversation by calling someone out for some offense, but when the person asks what they mean, they essentially refuse to continue the conversation.

          • Amy March

            I think they gain the right to exist in a conversation on their own terms, without the burden of being called upon to explain themselves and act as a representative for their group for the benefit of people who either cannot be bothered educating themselves before they speak or are actually using their demands for more explanation and more education and more facts to effectively deter marginalized people from sharing their own experiences because having to do all that extra work can be exhausting. They also are standing up for the idea that when you offend someone, even inadvertently, maybe just apologize instead of defending yourself and demanding even more from them. Asking people to constantly respond to hostility they face by responding with “oh, you prob didn’t mean to but actually that comment wasn’t great because its offensive for x, y, and z reasons and here are several articles that explain this in a way you will be receptive to” is kind of a tall order.

          • Eh

            People who can’t bother to educate themselves before speaking is a major pet peeve. A number of my inlaws say things based on sensationalized headlines (or FB posts) and they speak with such authority that other family members believe them. For example, one family member was against a proposal to fund fertility treatments because he doesn’t want to pay for “two women” to have a baby. I had to explain to him that the proposal required that the couple have medical reasons for it to be funded, and then he was ok with it and admitted that he never read the actual proposal. Another family member went off on the new sex ed curriculum in our province because it was started in grade one which she said was too young to teach kids about sex. I explained to her that in grade one they were teaching about the name of body parts and the idea of inappropriate touching (which is exactly the same as what I learned in grade one), and I sent her the grade by grade highlights. She appreciated it and realized that people were making it out to be way worse than it is. Another family member is still convinced that in grade 2 (when they talk about the different make up of families) that the kids are asked to pick a gender and frequently uses this “fact” in FB rants.

            Note: my in-laws have little contact with people they are marginalizing (well other than women – who either seem ok with it, think that it won’t change or are too afraid to say something), or, if they have contact with the a person they are marginalizing, that person doesn’t want to stick out (they live in a small very conservative very religious town). I can’t take on every offensive comment but I also want my daughter to know that it’s not ok.

  • ThatsWhatEESaid

    There is an amazing two-part series on Dear Sugar that covers just this! It’s called When Politics is Personal (cause it always is!). The episodes take a look at friends and family, then romantic partners. Worth listening to as they make great points, though I personally wouldn’t be able to function in a relationship with big ideological differences.

    http://www.wbur.org/dearsugar/2016/05/20/dear-sugar-episode-fifty-five
    http://www.wbur.org/dearsugar/2016/05/13/dear-sugar-episode-fifty-four

  • Eenie

    Ha! I just planned a trip to avoid my in-laws this weekend (my husband visited them alone). They solely get their news from fox news and had it on non stop while he was there.

    My coping strategies with in laws is to avoid talking about it and refusing to watch fox news. I leave the room and “take a nap”. It’s worked, they know my stance, and I’m not about to spend energy trying to debate them.

    For my parents, they hold opposite views. My mom refuses to remind my dad to vote, and he forgets most years (he isn’t passionate). When he says things from a biggoted viewpoint, I point them out as a matter of fact. I’ve had to do this less recently, so he is either learning not to say those things, or not say them in front of me.

    It’s not a perfect system.

    • Eh

      I was raised by a liberal (and a conservative) in a very conservative/religious area and became even more liberal (and atheist). When my dad (the liberal) remarried, he married someone more conservative and religious than my mother. One day my step-mum was upset that her children do not take their kids to church every Sunday (they go occasionally) and she said that they need to go to church to learn good morals. My dad asked her if she thought his children were good people with good morals – he never took us to church. It rocked her views on how people become good people.

      My husband’s family is very conservative and religious. My views and beliefs did not come up until after we were engaged so they had time to get to know me first. They were surprised that I could have such different views from them (they live in a small town so everyone is the same or tries to blend in). Sometimes it is hard to be the only liberal (my husband leans liberal too) at a big family supper. I let them say what they will say – it’s not worth the energy to debate them. I only challenge them when they are saying things that are blatantly false (factually) or things that are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.

    • Jess

      “When he says things from a bigoted viewpoint, I point them out as a matter of fact. I’ve had to do this less recently, so he is either learning not to say those things, or not say them in front of me.”

      This is me interacting with most of my family. I’m usually pulling stuff I’ve seen recommended by APW comments, but it’s always some variation of “That’s a rather rude thing to say.” and then dropping it.

      • Lisa

        This. I said “I’m not participating in this discussion anymore” at a family gathering a few months ago and left the room.

        • Jess

          Yup, I spend a lot of time just kind of saying, “You know, I don’t want to talk about this. Abrupt subject change!”

  • lildutchgrrl

    Ours was a house divided during the Democratic primary, and we had a few serious conversations about that. Eventually it all boiled down to having similar opinions on how government should be working, with variance in how broken we thought things currently were and how quickly we felt a turnaround would be reasonable. We both support Obama and will be voting for Hillary in November (and would have both voted for Bernie if he had won the primary), so all is well. I don’t think I know anyone well who’s a Trump supporter, and I would find it hard to respect them as a friend or coworker considering the way he’s campaigned, much less be in an intimate relationship with them. A friend or family member with conservative values? Easier to either debate or ignore in order to keep the peace. Most likely my queer interracial interfaith family wouldn’t have much to do with them.

  • AnonToday

    Anon today bc I as part of my job I am not allowed to publicly express political views… My fiance and often do not agree on political parties and candidates, but it’s never a problem because he knows how to treat people well and we both want the same outcome, just have different ways we think it will be achieved. I think as a culture we have vilified people who don’t agree with us and it’s not productive. I work in government and have to work with people on both sides of the aisle all the time, and that makes it so much easier – working with people I don’t agree with every day I’m forced to see them as individuals and start to recognize their good intent. You can be close-minded on both sides of the political spectrum: my advice is to get out of your comfort zone and actually try to understand and find common ground with people who are different from you.

    • stephanie

      This: “we both want the same outcome, just have different ways we think it will be achieved” does not apply to my family, though. I also couldn’t be in a relationship with someone who is not fully on board for women’s health rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant support, disability support, expanding Medicare and Medicaid, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. I think what I’m talking about is a little different than what you are.

      • Well, what about someone who was opposed to expanding Medicare but ran a free health clinic in a poor neighborhood? Or voted against property taxes increasing, which meant a decrease in disability services, but then also tutored kids with special needs at the local elementary school? Or an immigrant who entered the US on a work visa and believed that stricter regulation of immigration would improve the reputation of all immigrants to the US? (In other words, someone who supported the end goals of the policies you espouse, but disagreed with the specific policies.) I do think that people can desire that every inhabitant of the US have a happy, successful life and yet disagree with the ways in which national or local government policy can/should contribute to that.

        • Mary Jo TC

          I agree with your final statement, but maybe I just think your examples are kind of off? Because all of those people you describe seem either hypocritical or astoundingly shortsighted to me.

          • LJ

            Disagree. It’s not hypocritical to say “the responsibility of managing the education of special needs kids should be funded individually and privately, not by the state”….. this is one of the major classic differences between left and ring wingers’ economic policy – social democrats want the state to pay for the program. Conservatives want people to be able to fund things if they feel they need funding with minimal government intervention. It’s not shortsighted to want more control of your money, it’s just a different value on being able to contribute your earnings or assets in a way that you control (your donating to a charity directly or volunteering with said charity, e.g.) or to trust the state to do what is best with your earnings or assets (given to the state in the form of various taxations).

          • Lea

            Well put.

          • ART

            You’re right – that’s not a hypocritical statement, because it doesn’t also include a values claim that’s not backed up by that policy decision (such as “I think all students have an equal right to education” (but…)). I think the characterization of “social democrats just want that state to pay for things” is flawed because it ignores the core values that that policy preference is aimed at and the thought process and experience that goes into deciding that’s the way to go. It’s not just a political belief system based on thinking the government should provide a bunch of programs. In your example, there are core values at play – that education is a fundamental right and should be equally accessible; that disability does not exclude a kid from that right; that an educated citizenry is a public good. People can of course disagree on these values. There’s a problem – typical education doesn’t provide what a child with special needs…needs. Maybe some people don’t think that’s a problem, or disagree that that occurs. Then there’s an objective – to support these values by providing education for children with special needs that may be different from the usual offerings. People can disagree on the objectives that arise from shared core values. Then there’s policy – how do we provide that? Free market? What if the parents of a special needs child can’t pay for it and don’t live near a charity that provides it at a privately subsidized cost, does that mean our objective gets abandoned in that case? Gee, that would be out of line with our values. What other approaches are there? What if we pooled our resources so that any child that might end up needing additional educational support could be assured that they’d get it? Obviously there’s a lot of room for disagreement at this stage as well.

            I just wanted to point out that when the “funded privately and individually” policy approach fails someone (and it’s usually someone without money and power), there’s a consequence, and it’s one that my values tell me I should work to avoid. So I’m not just sitting around going welp, I’m a democrat, what else can the government pay for? I see government as the way we’ve organized ourselves to address these failures, and am willing to live with some of its weaknesses if it turns out to be a useful tool to protect people from discrimination and injustice.

          • LJ

            …..I gave one example of “major classic difference”….. of course there are more values at play….. I didn’t see the point in getting into details about partisan/historical political science when a lot of it wasn’t directly applicable. Like sure you’re right, but I’m not wrong saying “social democrats want the state to pay for things”… obviously politics are complex and it gets deeper than that, but it’s an undeniable fact that public ownership of assets and programs are a value of social democrats. I should know, I am one :)

        • Amy March

          Had such an interesting conversation the other week with someone firmly convinced the only way to bring about reasonable humane immigration policy long term is to deport absolutely everyone as harshly as possible to shock the conscience and really shake things up. So yeah, shared core value of immigrants’ rights, entirely different policy view.

      • AnonToday

        Maybe it is different? But also you asked how people handle this kind of situation and what I’m saying is that in our case, we both have to look at the forest and not the trees. My fiance and I can agree on core values and desired outcomes (even things like the examples you gave) and do not always agree on what policies best achieve those outcomes or manifest those values in a society.

        It could be something like both agreeing that healthcare should be more affordable and accessible to everyone where one partner believes the way to achieve this is through state-sponsored single-payer system and the other partner believes the way to achieve it is by applying free market principles like price competition to the healthcare market. Or both agreeing that something needs to be done about the heroin epidemic where one partner believes the top priority should be decriminalizing drug use and the other partner believes the top priority should be the state paying for addiction counseling, methadone clinics, and job placement services for recovering addicts. Or both believing in humane treatment of immigrants where one partner thinks that it is best achieved by loosening restrictions on immigration to the US and changing minimum wage laws and the other partner thinks it is best achieved by changing our foreign, trade and drug policy to avoid imposing economic impacts on other countries that lead so many to need to emigrate. (Again I’m not saying these are our views, just some examples.)

  • Sara

    This doesn’t really answer your question, but I grew up in a ‘mixed’ household where my parents joked that they both voted to cancel the other out. My dad refers to my mom’s family as the Kennedy’s. But they both stressed the importance of knowing what you’re voting for, and not blindly following your friends. My dad is considering abstaining this year since he’s not sure he can bring himself to vote for Hillary (for the general republican reasoning) but we’ve had a lot of great discussions about what the republicans have done wrong to get to this point and what he really wants out of a candidate. It’s been a really interesting year (though scary and exhausting)

  • MrsRalphWaldo

    My fiance and I generally agree with each other on fundamental issues concerning human rights and equality, but sometimes differ on other issues, especially the economy and foreign policy. I’m the type of person that likes to research my beliefs a lot and read articles from both sides of the spectrum. He is the type that will read one or two articles, or even a few headlines, and feel very passionate about his opinion. That is where we tend to have the most problems. I love his passion, but find it really difficult to have a conversation with him about an issue that he has obviously not researched thoroughly.

    Our way to deal is usually to simply avoid politics talk most of the time. We both will be voting for the same candidate, but have different reasons for doing so. We are good people with strong moral compasses, which makes the specifics around the “how” less important. I’d rather enjoy the wonderful person my soon-to-be husband is than be upset because we have different viewpoints.

  • Alexandra

    I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my husband said while we were dating when I asked him who he voted for in the last election.

    “OooooBAMA!” he said, and grinned. He comes from a family of teetotalling Baptists, so this would be quite a shocker if they knew.

    Personally, I’m fairly conservative. I’d vote Republican if they’d ever nominate someone who wasn’t a douche. But I’ve voted Democrat in every election since 2000. I’m socially conservative and economically conservative in theory. But nobody who espouses those principles ever seems to represent me as well as the Dems (who don’t really represent me at all, but I can get behind them, generally).

    My husband is much more liberal than me. I’m always pretty shocked when I ask him what he thinks about various issues in the news. Then he explains his thoughts and I find myself so taken with him and glad I married him.

    As far as religion goes (a sub conversation upthread) my husband and I are pretty much identical, ideologically. And it is a huge source of strength for us.

  • I know this article is about relationships and yeah, it really matters to me to share my core values with my core relationship, so this is a bit of a tangent. But I do think it is relevant to point out that the idea that a person just COULD NOT respect or be close to someone who thinks differently from them on politics (or religion) is itself a type of privilege. It implies that there are enough people around for you to respect and be close to who do agree with you. Minorities – or more accurately, people who have less power and social capital, even if they are not the minority – often do not have that privilege and they often end up having to be the ones who do the hard work of bridging across these divides because that is the only way to survive or get by at work/in the neighbourhood/in school/in the family etc etc. I guess my point is that unless a person is privileged that stance of “CAN NOT even consider another person’s point of view or hear it or try to understand it if it is shocking” is a costly one – in all sorts of ways both directly and indirectly (financially, socially, mental health, career…) May be worth it, but it is costly. Maybe more costly than listening.
    I’m also an anthropologist and one of my core values is that understanding gets us further than demonising and division. Even with the MOST shocking views, even with the ideas that absolutely violate all that I believe is right and good and that need to be fought – our still think that our best way of fighting them is to understand their popular appeal. Our worst way of fighting them is to demonise people who find them compelling. For example, I’m all in favour of the anthropologist who is studying ISIS right now. I think it is a huge and courageous contribution to the world. That an idea is evil is not a reason to not try and understand it, nor a reason to demonise the people who find that idea compelling.
    But yeah, disclaimer, I do get that this article is about marriage and relationships and in that particular arena, I do advocate shared core values!

    • Although I will add that this is easier said than done. Because yeah, some ideas SCARE me. And also just because some ideas coming out of the mouths of loved ones get me so full of adrenaline that it is hard to think clearly.

    • Lea

      Agree totally. Unfortunately, what’s going on in universities is leading us towards intolerance of thought or real discussion.

      It used to be that college was where you went to have your thoughts challenged. How else to refine your thinking skills and logic unless you hear all sides? Now, we have professors being fired if enough students deem their words politically incorrect. Some comedians will no longer play colleges because the intolerance is off the hook. Chris Rock said you can’t even be politically incorrect on your way to being politically correct.

      • Dess

        Actually, I think what’s going on in universities can lead us to much more productive discussions because of the increased attention to privilege, power, and systemic inequality. These are topics that are part of the “all sides” but have not always been heard. Their increased prominence on college campuses doesn’t decrease students’ opportunities to refine their critical thinking skills and challenge their own thoughts, it increases them. Just because ideas that have been privileged in these spaces are now being challenged doesn’t mean that “real discussion” has been shut down.

        • Natalieavech

          I respectfully disagree. I’m all for alll sides being heard but that does mean ALL sides. Just because you dont agree with or like what someone is saying doesn’t mean you have the right to shut them down.

          • Dess

            “Just because you dont agree with or like what someone is saying doesn’t mean you have the right to shut them down.” Yes, and this gets clouded in university settings because dominant voices are used to being dominant. Now that more sides are involved in the discussion, its pattern has to change. That’s what I think is happening right now. It’s not happening flawlessly, but growth can be messy.

      • Amy March

        It used to be college was where you went to explore the vast and diverse world of White Men With Opinions.

        • Natalieavech

          Do you mean the classics? Because lets not dismiss the great thinkers of the modern era because they were white and men.

          • Amy March

            And let’s not assume the “great thinkers of the modern era” all just happened to be white and men. Consider, perhaps, that actually there were lots more great thinkers out there, but racism and sexism for too long only shared with us the white male ones.

          • Natalieavech

            I’m not assuming that they were all white and men. Of course not. In a perfect world we would have had many many more classics coming from women and minorities, and we did have some from taht time! but due to deeply entrenched racism and sexism, women and minorities had limited opportunities. That doesn’t mean that the writings of John Locke, Charles Dickens, and the like aren’t extraordinary. I was very disappointed to hear students dismissing the classics for the sole reason that they were written by white men.

      • Natalieavech

        yeah, its a worrying trend. I am a pretty recent grad and it was just astonishing how people were simply not willing to listen to other points of view. if you disagreed on ANYTHING you were labeled sexist, racist, etc. and to be honest it was usually the left doing this. (as a liberal myself). Its not a good hole to dig ourselves into. I was reallly put off by it. I joined the College Democrats and very quickly found out that was not a good environment to have differing viewpoints- the College Republicans on campus was much MUCH more tolerant and openminded.

        • Jenna

          Well, there is also a difference between “we have some disagreements but that doesn’t make me sexist/racist/bigoted etc” and ACTUAL sexism/racism/bigotry. The first is something people should pay more attention to, and listen to differing viewpoints on.

          The second, we should not feel bullied into respecting, considering or giving equal time to. There is a point at which people call things sexist or racist because they actually are sexist or racist. The key is to find that line.

          • Natalieavech

            but people are redefining what is sexist and what is racist. disagreeing about reproductive right now automaticallly (in some circles)= misogyny.

          • Amy March

            Are they redefining it? Or are their voices just getting louder? I lot of the things I see being called “newly” racist, like microaggressions, in fact always have been racist, but the voices speaking out against it are amplified by more democratic access to publicity. For instance, you might see it as disagreeing about reproductive rights now automatically equals misogyny, but plenty of people have always, loudly, stated that if you don’t support women’s rights to control what happens inside their bodies, you don’t support women. It’s not actually a new idea.

          • Natalieavech

            Sure. I don’t agree with that idea. I think people who have diverse opinions about lots of political issues- including reproductive rights, can support women. Just because its a new idea doesn’t mean its wrong, and just because its just recently come to the forefront of the media doesn’t mean its right. I tend to favor expanding my goodwill instead of retracting it, and I don’t see opposing opinions on reproductive rights as an assasult on women’s rights.

          • Jenna

            While I don’t agree, really, that “disagreeing about reproductive rights = misogyny”, and I can see the reasoning behind thinking abortion is wrong…

            I have to say, there is an argument to be made because it sure does feel like being told your bodily autonomy is less important than a ball of goo (which is what a fetus looks like when the vast majority of abortions happen, and those that happen after that are almost always for serious health reasons and very often break the heart of the erstwhile parents-to-be), is somewhat anti-woman, and I cannot accept it as a valid opinion on my own body.

            Especially if that is based on a religious doctrine I don’t follow, as though someone else’s religion is more relevant to my bodily autonomy.

            I won’t say people who feel that way are misogynists, but I do not and will not entertain it as an opinion I can countenance on issues pertaining to my health, my body, my value system and my life. I would not be in a relationship with an anti-abortion believer because I could not be that intimately involved with someone who would not respect my reproductive rights. I might be friends with one but I might find it hard to be good friends.

          • Tulsaloosa214

            Well, ok. There are plenty of secular reasons to be anti-abortion. My husband is as pro-life and as atheist as they come. And for him, it doesn’t matter what a ball of goo looks like, its what it is- a mini person. To him, its a person with the right to life. Now, I am pro-choice. Mostly for the reasons you mentioned- bodily autonomy. But I still don’t think its anti-woman to be anti-abortion or pro-life. ( say that because I am anti-abortion but pro-choice). I know too many highly intelligent thoughtful pro-life women to think that way.
            And I”m not saying its always easy disagreeing about this. I can get very emotional about it- him, not so much. And its even more important to have an open discussion about it when being sexually active and having children.

          • Jenna

            See, I don’t think there are – obviously there’s no clear scientific line, if there were we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But science *is* pretty clear that during the goo-ball stage, that ball of cells feels no pain and has no thoughts. So unless there’s a religious conviction behind it, it’s just not a scientifically sound way to think. While I do not think people who are anti-abortion are bad, necessarily, I cannot entertain and do not respect the opinion that that ball of goo’s right to develop into a human is more important than my bodily autonomy. Women are not incubators.

            I do respect that people have the right to their opinions (though I do not always respect the opinions themselves, and I have to say this is one I do not respect), that tolerance stops the minute it affects my ability to access health care or my bodily autonomy.

            What I am trying to say, then, is that I could not marry someone who felt this way. I am not even sure I could be good friends with them, though I do not necessarily think people with such beliefs are bad people (though I do think the beliefs are fundamentally flawed). I just can’t imagine being married to someone who thinks that a ball of goo has more rights than I, a grown human woman, do.

          • Tulsaloosa214

            Okay. You are entitled to your opinion. But how would you explain my husband? Raised by atheists, super atheist himself, and as pro-life as it gets. He hates religion. He is a very logical and rational person and these are the conclusions he draws.

            I think it is ivery sad when peopole straight up say they would never be friends with or marry someone who thinks differently than them. That is the reason for polarization in the world, because people absolutely refuse to see the other side.

          • Amy March

            I’d explain him by saying it’s easy to take a hard line position on something that will never personally impact your body, and that its not exactly shocking to hear about a man coming up with a whole bundle of “scientific” reasons to control women’s bodies.

          • Tulsaloosa214

            Its not only men who are pro-life. My mother is. My mother-in-law. My sister-in-law. The list goes on. Women who have given birth. Women who haven’t. So is it only men who are not alllowed to have the wrong opinion on abortion?

    • emilyg25

      I heartily agree that demonizing people who disagree is not helpful at all. I value the people in my life who think differently than I do, and I really try to see things from all sides. But, for very close relationships (BFF, spouse), I need someone who aligns with ideas like equality, peace, etc. So there’s layers to it.

      • There are definitely layers. That is very true.

    • Jenna

      Sure, understanding the popular appeal of otherwise horrifying political figures is important.

      But, while many opinions that differ from our own merit consideration and respect, plenty are so unhinged that no, it is not a bad thing if you refuse to consider them. There is a line between tolerance and being a decent human being who has boundaries and lines that can’t be crossed.

      For example, I feel no compunction to consider or respect the idea that all Muslims should be banned from entering the US. I do not feel bad about this. I’m not sorry. I shouldn’t feel sorry. Some things just aren’t right.

      Other ideas, I give more consideration to. But not every idea.

      • Agreed, some things just aren’t right and don’t bear thinking about, yet alone consideration. But I do think it is possible to try and understand people who DO give an idea consideration in order to try and understand how they can countenance doing so even if I could not countenance doing so myself. Don’t get me wrong, there is a line – and I am mostly talking about people who I otherwise respect or who have reached a conclusion in a way that is at least internally coherent, even if I completely disagree with them. I think it makes a difference to know where an idea is coming from – fear, hate, a different logic, different values, different ideas about what is effective…? I hope that understanding can help aid the fight against hateful, dangerous and evil ideas. I do also think that some people hold such ideas but are not THEMSELVES hateful, dangerous or evil – as people. Some are, but some are not. That feels like an important distinction to make.

    • AP

      YES. As one of a tiny group of liberals in a very red part of a very red state, if I limited my relationships to people who only think like me, I’d have very few friends around. In my last job, I had a coworker who listened to right-wing hate radio at work, and a director who was totally fine with it. I would have been ostracized for speaking out about it. So I didn’t. I had to actively work to separate the good qualities of this coworker (her compassion for the low-income minority clients we served, her generosity, her tenacity at raising funds, her incredible work ethic) from the garbage she listened to and occasionally repeated, just to work with her and get my job done. (To be clear, our relationship was entirely limited to work. We weren’t friends.) I have to do this with a lot of my family, too, though. In circumstances where I can’t understand where a person is coming from, I just try to separate that out from who they *are* at their core and get beyond it. And yeah, like you said, I get that this is about marriage and relationships. But for me, dealing with differing political beliefs is a daily experience and struggle, so it’s on my mind all the time, in all my relationships.

      • Yeah. I think it IS different with key, core relationships, but this just triggered me thinking of all those other relationships where it is also an issue, and how easy it is to write those people off unless you’re in a position where it is not easy at all. You express that so well.

  • Anon

    We disagree on some really fundamental stuff politically, like big vs small government, voting practices, taxes and welfare. So we talk about this stuff A LOT. Our trick is to treat political discussions/arguments as debates – they need to be rational and based on both theory and practice, so that we don’t get too bogged down in current events, and we have to listen to each other and consider what the other person is saying.
    My partner debated in school and sometimes starts using long words in ridiculously long sentences that technically make sense but are hard to follow – these days I just call him out on it and he rephrases.
    I used to hate talking politics with him, and now it’s one of our favorite things to do, and we look forward to road trips because we finally get the chance to talk about this stuff for hours without having to stop to go to work or sleep!

  • Pingback: How Do You Make It Work When You and Your Partner Don’t Agree on Politics? | weddingcarshiregeelong()

  • emilyg25

    Crazy liberal married to a crazy liberal, both from crazy liberal backgrounds. It feels like an echo chamber sometimes. I’m a political junkie and very active in the process, so it would be hard for me to be very close to someone with significantly different views. I’ve dated Republicans before, and we just didn’t go there, but it’s harder now that the Republican Party Platform has gotten so, so crazy. Not even allowing abortion in the case of rape, incest, or for the health of the mother? GTFO with that. Individual Republicans are cool, but the two-party system gives the bloc too much power (on both sides).

    At my work, I just hosted a very interesting discussion about dialogue and how to do it constructively. One of the principles that struck me is that in a dialogue, both people come with openness, and leave with their points of view at least a little changed. The purpose of dialogue is “to form a new basis from which to think and act” and you cannot “win” a dialogue. So I’m sure couples of mixed persuasions follow that a lot.

    • This is good stuff. But do you have to leave with your views a little bit changed in a dialogue? Can’t you come away thinking “OK, I heard you, I think I understand how you got there, but I still disagree and could never get there myself…”

      • Eenie

        For me it depends on the issue. There are some things (abortion, gay marriage, and others) where I absolutely cannot understand how someone reaches that conclusion. I have yet to hear any logic that makes sense to me.

        • Eh

          The thing that frustrates me about some issues is that people oppose them when it does not effect them (or usually anyone they know). Marriage equality is a good example. It might might not agree with their religious beliefs but no one is forcing them to get married to someone of the same sex (or, in most cases, preform the marriage ceremony). Same with abortion. And why are gender neutral bathrooms a big deal? So they believe that chromosomal sex and gender should match. How does it effect them that someone else believes differently and lives that life? (Well other than that they are uncomfortable with it)

          • Eenie

            Yup yup yup. This exactly. It almost exclusively comes down to that – they so vehemently believe something that would in no way impact their life (most times because of some sort of privilege). Granted a lot of the stuff would not affect my life either, but my stance would benefit a minority group of people for the better.

          • Eh

            Exactly! And your last line sums it up.

          • Lisa

            So my mother is a “values voter” and skews very traditional/conservative. She believes she is looking out for the best interests of others and their children by having the government intervene in these areas. (She deeply cares about children and helping them to better their circumstances.) She honestly things that kids are being put at a disadvantage/in danger by allowing these things to exist.

            I obviously don’t agree with her, and it’s made it really difficult to discuss any of these issues with her. We had it out about marriage equality because I was home on the day that my home state’s ban was struck down. Once we got to the point where she was saying that children shouldn’t be raised by single parents because they wouldn’t have both strong male and female role models in their lives, all future conversations were over.

          • Eh

            My inlaws only know nuclear families and believe that’s the only definition of a family (and all they have ever known). They have had a hard time with me and my SIL’s family situations. My mom passed away when I was a teenager and my dad remarried and I have a large step-family. I don’t understand why this makes them uncomfortable (they are getting better). My SIL’s father was abusive so her mom left and got remarried and she refers to that man as her father. And my SIL was a single mom with two children who lived off welfare in social housing (my inlaws make comments about people who do nothing and live off their tax dollars). Some family members also believe that parents have to be biological parents. My BIL recently adopted his wife’s older girls and some family members refuse to acknowledge that he is their father. How is it better that they don’t have a secure, legal father figure (their bio fathers were not involved in their lives)? Now if anything happens to my SIL her children won’t be separated – isn’t that’s what is best for the girls?

          • Lisa

            *headdesk* I completely agree with you. Obviously, she should have somehow figured out how to keep the bio father around. Or married him first. Or not gotten divorced if she was married.

            I used my aunt, who was a single mother, and her son as an example, which was probably not the best idea. (Cousin has had several rough starts since graduating high school.) That was when my mother said kids shouldn’t be raised in single parent households. So they’d be better off in orphanages or the foster care system? You’ve never done anything to help those kids… I just can’t.

          • Eh

            That would be an infuriating conversation. UGH!

          • emilyg25

            I know a person who believes that gay marriage is a sin and if America allows it, then we’re basically all doing the devil’s work. They feel it affects them because they need to live a righteous life and make sure everyone else does too. Some folks just have a much more externally focused theology. It’s an interesting perspective.

          • Eh

            That is an interesting perspective. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who believe that.

      • emilyg25

        Yep, to be a dialogue, I think you have to move at least a little bit, even if it’s just to say, “I can see why you think that.” The presenter mentioned that there are some things that just aren’t conducive to dialogue in the formal definition because they’re part of people’s identities and it just all gets too personal, abortion being one.

  • Eh

    I grew up with parents who were political opposites (even when my dad remarried he married someone his political opposite). And on top of that, I grew up in a very conservative area. My dad (the liberal) taught us to be open minded and respectful of other people’s views. I did not even realize that I lived in such a conservative area until I moved away. My husband also grew up in a conservative area and he leans liberal (not nearly as far to the left as me). Many of his family are militantly conservative. Some even bring up politics to cause strife on purpose. This is not how I grew up and I find it very disrespectful. Unless they are saying things that are blatantly wrong (my FIL and some other family members will talk about things they know nothing about), I keep my mouth shut because it’s not worth the fight (a relatively recently rudely brought up his conservative views at my daughter’s bday party and I was on the verge of kicking him out of my house).

    One of my exes grew up in a very liberal family in a very liberal area and he could not handle my step-family’s conservative views. He actually walked out of Christmas because someone was talking about how they support the military (we live in Canada). The person wasn’t even saying anything that bad but he couldn’t handle people with different views.

  • Lmba

    So, when my partner and I met, we were kindof on different tracks politically and religiously. He was conservative politically and I was very involved in a rather intense religious denomination. We’ve gradually both converted each other: he has become wayyyyyy more liberal and I have loosened up significantly on the theological front. Ha!

  • Lmba

    As an aside, my husband surprised me last week by joining the governing political party in our country (which he has never previously voted for to my knowledge) AND making a donation to them. My response was somewhere along the lines of: Who are you???

  • Natalieavech

    Oh, this is so me. I mean, w’ere not POLAR opposites, but we disagree pretty strongly on a lot of big issues so this comes up a lot. I was raised by parents who a Republican and Democrat, so I think that kind of taught me how to navigate this kind of relationship. Not perfectly, of course, but who is perfect? I’m kind of a conservative Democrat- and he is a cross between a conservative Republican and a libertarian. Socially verrrrry conservative, fiscally very libertarian, isolationist, the whole nine yards. And while there are times it gets tense, for the most part of our relationship its been excellent. We love to debate alll the issues, and even when we don’t agree we (mostly) concede that the other point of view has some good points and they’re not stark raving lunatics. Like name an issue, abortion, guns, foreign policy, welfare, etc, and we probably disagree on it. But we both respect each other and that’s important.

  • Pingback: How Do You Make It Work When You and Your Partner Don’t Agree on Politics? - ADA Events Asia()

  • Jenna

    Wish I could say but I honestly would break up with someone if they had views that were much more socially conservative than mine. Like, not because of whatever party they vote for, that’s all window dressing, but because of the values that caused that person to vote that way, which say a lot about their character. And being, say, anti-marriage-equality, anti-reproductive-rights, insisting that sexism and racism aren’t problems and don’t need any attention (or worse, if you care about them and have observed them being problems, something is wrong with you), that the poor are to blame for their own situation (when very often it’s a factor of what class you are born into, which nobody has control over), thinking that one religion is somehow objectively worse than all others…

    …yeah, no. That says a lot about character, and that’s a dealbreaker. It would be over. I feel very strongly about this.

    • raccooncity

      Politics are super important to me, and thus I also think that disagreeing with me too much on politics would be a dealbreaker. It just wouldn’t happen at all – we probably wouldn’t even get past the first date, honestly.

      There are other things that people care a lot about that I don’t, though, because they’re not as important in my life. (For example, being athletic/active lifestyle. I don’t care either way what my partner does.)

  • Lexipedia

    I work in advocacy in DC, so I deal with Republicans a lot. Sometimes they are my best allies on legislation I support, which makes me wince when they do stupid things like vote to defund PP. Like, causes I support professionally will be better off if certain Republicans get reelected – which hurts. But because of the passion it requires to do my job, and because of my political involvement which lets me see the nitty gritty of how government functions, I absolutely could not be in a relationship with someone on the extreme opposite side of the aisle.

    For me, certain social values are part of who I am, and I have a hard time respecting the judgement and character of someone who disagrees on equality for women, LGBTQ people, people of color, etc. It might be narrowminded, but the person who I go home to every night cannot be someone who I disagree with on fundamental political issues.

    I know smart, honest, thoughtful Republicans, and I respect that they disagree with me. I work with them every day – people who are professional members of the Republican Party. But my life partner cannot be someone who cares more about small government or corporate tax structure then moral wrongs that are espoused by the people they would vote for.

    My home is a sacred space, and just like some people see the religious beliefs of their partner to be a deal breaker in that relationship, politics are one for me. Full stop.

  • Sarah

    I cannot be with someone who doesn’t share my political views. I have tried it, more than once, and I wouldn’t try it again. I think it IS possible for some people, but not for me. The reason is that my political views are a fundamental part of who I am and what I do. My job, which I consider my “calling,” is directly tied to my political views. I can’t be with someone who doesn’t share my worldview and I can’t be with someone who is fighting against, or is even ambivalent toward, what I am fighting for. After working and fighting all day, I want to come home and relax and be supported and surrounded by people, especially a partner, who gets it.

    What I don’t need in a partner is someone, particularly a man, trying to challenge my views. There can be great value in that, for sure. Some of my most treasured relationships are with those who have challenged me. But my partner is just that, my partner. Not my mentor, not my classmate, not someone I want to play thought experiments with. As partners, we kind of have to always be on each other’s side like all the time. That’s a lot harder to do if we see the world differently. It’s also harder to do if I am with someone who wants to mansplain my own job to me.

    I do think it’s possible though, particularly if your political views are not a big part of who you are. And there are ways in which my husband and I differ that might make other couples incompatible (like I’m an introverted teetotaling vegetarian who likes to be in bed by 10pm and he’s an extroverted BBQ loving guy who would party and drink every night if his body and lifestyle permitted. ). The things to us that matter: our politics, when we eat (this is huge – hangry is a dealbreaker), our ties to family, and maintaining an active lifestyle. I imagine those are different for everyone.

    Funny enough, when it comes to religion, we are more of what a lot of other commentators are saying – we have different ways of practicing and expressing religion but the underlying values are the same so it works for us. I can see how that wouldn’t work for a lot of people.

    • Lexipedia

      Yep. I said basically the same thing below. My political views are such a huge part of my life and who I am… I just couldn’t do it.