Election tension is boiling over; it seems like everyone from the office blowhard to the person in front of you at the post office is spouting off opinions that make your blood boil. But what happens when the one disagreeing with you shares your bedroom? Here are 10 tips to help you make it through November 6th without resorting to the taser gun…
1. Assess The Situation: While one of you might not care that much, the other might be eating, drinking, and sneezing the party line. Acknowledge who feels most strongly, who’s just having fun, and whether or not thoughtful discourse is as likely as pigs (with or without lipstick!) flying.
2. Find Common Ground: Establish that you each are trying to do what you think is best to move this country forward. Maybe you can even agree on an issue or two, and join forces in talking about your mutual passion. (Note: this becomes less effective if you see eye-to-eye only about oatmeal tariffs.)
3. Establish Boundaries: Maybe it’s no political talk at the table or no ranting email forwards from Aunt Phyllis. You might even agree that you’ll freeze discussion if one of you cries for mercy (a “safe” word is good for this: who knew that political arguments were so much like S & M?) Either way, ground rules are essential to keep things from getting ugly.
4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Now’s the time to channel your inner Miss Manners. Offensive taunts, passive-aggressive digs and—most certainly– flying fondue pots are all out of the question.
5. Don’t Overpersonalize: Your beloved is still, for the most part, who he always was. And the vast majority of those qualities have nothing to do with who gets his hanging chad in the voting booth.
6. Drive To Distraction: Now is the time to take up cooking together, not to spend all night with Wolf Blitzer. Choose a classic movie over debate analysis and your ’80s playlist over talk radio. And don’t even think of bringing your guy to that fundraiser!
7. Find Your Outlet: If it helps you to hang out in partisan chat rooms all day, have at it. Just make sure you know the difference between blowing off steam and getting yourself worked up, or you’re liable to be worse off than you started.
8. Keep It Out Of The Bedroom: Say good night without politics– unless, of course, the conflict adds some spice! But ixnay on the Joe Biden undies.
9. Make An Election Night Plan: Whether you’ll be at viewing parties in opposite cities or side-by-side with earpieces and laptops, agree in advance whether you’ll spend the evening, and morning, together. Avoid the potential pitfall of letting the night unfold spontaneously—after all, one of you will be stewing while the other is squealing.
10. Do A Reality Check: For every couple engaged in a playful red-versus-blue showdown, there’s another that must acknowledge red flags about opposing world views. Don’t minimize what might be a larger problem of philosophical incompatibility– or it could be a very long four years to come.
Dr. Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and columnist. She received her B.A. with distinction in psychology from Yale University, with an additional major in American Studies. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at American University with post-doctoral work at George Washington University, focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, and relationship issues. Her personal website is here.