It’s one thing to disagree with friends and co-workers about political issues, but what do you do when your spouse is rooting for something or someone that you can’t stand?
Here are a few ways to safeguard the heart of your relationship, and avoid a November marriage meltdown.
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Refuse to become a victim of election obsession.
It’s important not to allow drama on the political scene to create unnecessary drama in our lives. When life is as dramatic as possible, TV shows increase ratings, news outlets garner greater audiences, political candidates grow their support bases, and social media manages to get an even greater slice of the average American’s time. The only person who loses out is you. Riding the political roller coaster every day is a distraction and a waste of time.
Riding the daily political roller coaster is a distraction and a waste of time Jonathan HooverClick to tweet
I’m first in line to say that it’s important to understand the issues and vote your conscience. Civic responsibility is a big deal, and this November I will be voting with realism and hope, casting my support behind the candidates who represent the best available option among those with a realistic chance to win. Civic responsibility is one thing. Reading every political op-ed that comes up on your news feed on Facebook is another. The danger of becoming absorbed in the drama is real.
It requires skill to look past the melodrama and see the real news, but it’s a skill worth developing.
The first step to insulating your marriage from political craziness is to make sure that you personally haven’t developed a slight touch of election obsession. It’s good to know the facts. It’s even better to understand what those facts mean, and vote/respond wisely. What is not good is to allow the political upheaval in our nation to create upheaval in your spirit.
It’s not healthy to let political upheaval create upheaval in your spirit. Jonathan HooverClick to tweet
Learn from your spouse.
In politics, as in all areas of our lives, adversarial arguments are a waste of time. Scientists in the field of psychology tell us that once we hold a certain belief (about, for instance, what is right, or who should win an election), our brains look for evidence that supports that conclusion. Simultaneously, our brains tend to ignore, minimize, or reject evidence that argues against our beliefs.
We might as well admit, then, that if two people are loudly voicing their beliefs, but neither of them are listening to the other, there is no possible good outcome. We may think we are building bridges to connect with people across the aisle by explaining to them just how wrong they are, but actually we push them farther away. Maybe that’s why this election is so polar. After decades of political argument where everyone is talking but no one is listening, I suppose it is natural that parties and viewpoints are so far apart.
If you want intimacy with your spouse, you must listen to their viewpoints–even when you substantially disagree. Let the candidates spend evenings debating. That’s their job. Don’t feel like you need to hold your own home version of the debates because your spouse just can’t seem to see things from your point of view. Instead, ask them questions. They may have some really helpful insight to share.
A word of warning here: unless you make your living as a lawyer, never interrogate someone like a prosecuting attorney–trying to catch them being wrong in order to strengthen your own case. If you do that, you’re asking for round two of your original argument. Don’t ask questions to win, ask questions to understand (like a defense attorney). You don’t have to agree with their point of view, but you do need to respect it. If either of you win an argument, both of you lose.
Remember who the real enemy is.
I’m more concerned about America’s future than I ever have been. It seems obvious that America is growing farther away from God every day. It’s important to recognize, though, that no political party is solely responsible for that. No individual, no movement, no special interest group, and no legislative body is powerful enough to be responsible for such a shift in a culture.
Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
The scripture is clear. Political parties are not our enemies. Lawmakers, candidates, pundits, commentators, and news anchors… they’re not our enemies either. If you are a God-follower, your enemy is Satan himself, and all the demons on his payroll. That means that if you really want to engage in a personal battle over political issues, it’s probably best to do that on your knees.
Why turn your home, your workplace, or your place of worship into a human battleground while ignoring the spiritual struggle that’s strangling the life out of our great nation?
Okay, suppose you and your spouse can’t come to terms on a political issue. What you can do is disagree on your knees.
You can bring the issues you don’t agree about to a holy God and ask for His will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”
You can ultimately kiss your spouse goodnight and put your head on your pillow knowing that you haven’t let Satan convince you that your spouse is really your enemy.
And you can trust God… because He’s bigger than this crazy political mess.
Long after the election returns are in, God will still be on the throne, and He will still be looking out for His children.