Bipartisan marriage? Tips for leaving the fighting to the politicians
Marriage Counseling Bethesda MD
This election cycle has been difficult. Many therapists believe that the election (and the 24-hour news cycle) has increased feelings of anxiety, alienation, and fear among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. For those who are aligned politically with their partner, home can be a much needed break from the outside world. But, what happens when you share a bed with the other side? This is the reality for 30 percent of married couples. Here are some tips for brokering a peace deal at home:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy knew what most couples therapists will tell you during the first session: you can only change yourself – what will you do to improve your part of a problem dynamic? Instead of asking that your partner understand your point of view, practice showing your spouse what understanding looks like. Watch your non-verbal communication – are you rolling your eyes, crossing your arms, distracted by the television or your phone? Focus your attention on your spouse and spend at least 5 minutes listening (no interruptions!) to what they have to say. Save “but” for another time. How can you expect your spouse to hear your viewpoint if you don’t offer them the same courtesy?
“Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan understood that disagreement is a given in life. The ability to handle conflict with respect, kindness, and generosity is the hallmark of a healthy marriage. Can you try to avoid demonizing the other side? Insults and name-calling will increase your partner’s defensiveness and decrease their desire to show you respect. The goal here isn’t agreement (though, of course, that would be great). The goal is seeing your partner’s humanity. They aren’t a villain or the enemy. In order to handle conflict peacefully, you must step out of the “me vs. you” mentality and work together to find common ground.
Cara Nazareth, MS, LCMFT provides couple, family, and individual therapy in downtown Bethesda, MD. Call or email her today to set up your first appointment or a free telephone consultation! 240-752-7650 ext. 4, or firstname.lastname@example.org