Now more than ever, politics are putting a wedge between American relationships. According to a recent research study, one in ten Americans have ended a romantic relationship over political differences. For some couples on opposite sides of the aisle, politics can cause more than just heated debates – it may lead to divorce.
The Wakefield Report
In early 2017, market research firm Wakefield Research polled 1,000 U.S. adults from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. Participants were asked about how political differences impact their own romantic relationships and those of friends and family. One in five Americans polled know at least one couple whose relationship suffered directly as a result of the outcome of the presidential election. That percentage is even higher among millennials.
The manner in which political views polarize relationships has become increasingly pervasive. With strong views on health care, immigration, and other issues, Americans feel very strongly about the government – positively or negatively.
A Yale University report published in Psychology Today studied how common “mixed” political marriages are and how they breakdown along party affiliations. In 70 percent of the 18 million couples Yale studied, both partners had the same political affiliation. According to their voting records, most of these couples are Republican. Politics seems to be one thing many long-term couples have in common, and may possibly an indicator of success.
The Psychology of Politics and Divorce
Certainly, every marriage has its share of differences aside from just politics. However, political differences seem to cultivate a particularly deep divide. Psychologists hypothesize that things go wrong not only because of differing beliefs between spouses, but because each may feel the need to convince the other that his or her way is the right way. However, trying to steer others toward a different way of thinking can create lasting relationship rifts.
Though open-mindedness is not always easy, a focus on patience and positivity can help couples communicate their opinions without denying their partners’ views. It may be helpful to try a curious approach to political discussions. Ask questions to better understand your partners’ perspective instead of just insisting they are wrong. Validating their opinions demonstrates agreement and appreciation. An open, non-confrontational communication style is vital to keeping the peace. If that does not work, sometimes the best strategy is to just avoid the subject of politics altogether.
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