By Tom Andre
What do you do when your political views are totally different from those of your partner? Sometimes nothing, of course. But sometimes views seem to have drifted so far apart couples begin to wonder if they can remain together. Love might be there, but values differ, and that could be a dealbreaker for some.
Political differences do not always have to ruin relationships. Many of us have had loving relationships with people of different political persuasions. When the stakes are low (for whom do we name the post office? do we restrict parking on Tuesdays on Main Street? etc.), we have the luxury of supporting Red or Blue the same way we cheer for our favorite sports teams. It's easy enough to live with someone who roots for the Dodgers if you happen to root for the Angels (unless they meet in the World Series, at which time it would probably best for one of you to temporarily move out!).
We have all heard the talking heads on television screaming at us and at each other not to "politicize" what we think, or to "keep politics out of it." These are often the same folks who treat politics like a horse race. If your relationship broke up over a horse race, then yeah, I might wonder how strong it was in the first place.
But what happens when the stakes are not low? There are plenty of times in our history - now might be one of those times - when the positions of political parties reflected deeply held beliefs about right and wrong.
Think of an extreme: what if your partner was pro-stealing, and you were anti-stealing? Are you supposed to sweep under the rug the fact that your partner thinks thievery is cool just because this very debate happens to be raging on FOX or MSNBC? What is the role that having differing values plays in your relationship?
Are your political differences mostly about the "horse race," based on preference, the way we root for a favorite team? If so, I suspect you will work it out. But what if your values differ, and that's what shapes your politics? That may be a longer, tougher conversation.
By Tom Andre
I am a licensed marriage and family therapist working in El Segundo and Century City (Los Angeles), California. I have experience working with a broad range of problems, and I have a special interest in the lifelong questions about identity, meaning and purpose. Additional areas of interest and experience include grief and loss, parenthood and fertility, and trauma.