Married, Voting Separately
You are adamant about making a difference by casting your vote; your spouse, not so much. Your mate can’t understand why you bother, since the candidates are all the same; you believe your candidate is different and you feel that your spouse’s political apathy is a refutation of your belief.
As a couple, you are experiencing a conflict of philosophies. Like any conflict, this can lead to marital strife and unhappiness. Sometimes, in marriage, a couple must agree to disagree in order to avoid the needless suffering of anger and sadness.
Pitfalls of Disagreement
As in most conflicts between those who care for each other, a chief source of irritation on both sides is poor argument strategies and techniques. Here are a few big ones to avoid:
- Becoming angry. If either participant becomes angry, the argument will most likely disintegrate into one or more of the following immaturities.
- Name calling. Your spouse is not stupid, ignorant, spineless, lazy or any other pejorative just because they disagree with you.
- Defending your weaknesses. This is difficult, because in order to avoid defending your weaknesses, you must be able to recognize your weaknesses. Suffice it to say that you must leave room for the possibility, however remote it may seem, that you may actually be wrong.
- Raising your voice. Saying it louder does not make it true.
All of these boil down to the same thing: RESPECT. If you can conduct an argument while maintaining mutual respect, the argument has a chance of being productive. If you become disrespectful, not only does the argument go down the toilet, your marriage might just follow it.
Modesty and Humility
Modesty dictates that the opinions of others are just as valid as yours, no matter how wrong-headed they may seem. Humility in an infinite Universe must allow that all outcomes may be for good, because absolutely anything is possible.
Political activism has an element of proselytizing and it is easy to go overboard with it. It is important to realize that part of the need proponents of any political agenda feel to convince others to agree with them is based on the fear that without the agreement of others, their agenda cannot go forward. While this is true, whenever one begins to act on the basis of fear, only negative results are possible.
Acting from the strong, positive bases of modesty and humility, we recognize the possibility that all outcomes may be positive, and that the influence of one can be more powerful than the influence of many. Avoid negative predictions of the future. No one knows what the future holds. Be modest, knowing your knowledge is at best limited. Be humble, knowing that you cannot predict the future. Allowing that you may not know everything, you make room for the possible validity of your spouse’s differing opinion.
Detachment, Receptivity and Acceptance
Detachment, receptivity and acceptance take the anger and fear out of all arguments. Although you may think that you cannot be simultaneously passionate about an outcome and detached from it, it is entirely possible. You can simultaneously have a great desire for a particular candidate to win and realize that even if this does not happen, life will continue to be sweet.
Getting past the idea that there is only one right way, you can be receptive to the ideas of others. This does not mean that you will necessarily agree with or adopt the ideas of others, but that you will carefully examine opposing points of view for their relative merits and weaknesses, abandoning all preconceived ideas while you consider.
Being receptive to all outcomes means trusting that the Universe will unfold as it should. Trust in positive outcomes helps strengthen detachment.
Acceptance of your spouse’s opinions as their opinions frees you from being defensive. Many of us have had the experience of meeting perfectly wonderful people who believe things we do not believe. If we are successful at looking past our differences, we may find that we can see beauty that far outweighs our disagreements.
All of this is about perspective. What is really important? When I studied journalism in college I learned that people care most about what affects them personally. Isn’t it more important to be happy at home than to have someone in office of whom you approve? Regardless of how bad an elected official may be, they will not be likely to seriously affect the happiness you can enjoy with your spouse.
Is it more important to be right, or is it more important to be a loving partner? Are you a good husband if you scoff at your wife’s political beliefs, knowing this makes her angry? Are you a good wife if you nag your husband incessantly about his political beliefs, knowing this makes him miserable?
It is up to both partners to maintain all discourse as the discourse of love. If you can’t discuss politics in a loving way, don’t discuss it at all. There are plenty of households that don’t allow discussions of religion or politics. You and your spouse have to decide if yours should be one of those.
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