Your Partner Is Your Political Polar Opposite. Now What?

Rachel BernsteinFamily

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Advises Couples on How to Preserve Their Relationships When Discussing Politics

SAN DIEGOOct. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — As Election Day nears, many people find themselves engaging in serious and often heated political conversations. Politics can highlight core differences or similarities in values and characters, but sometimes the cost of discussing these beliefs can unintentionally shake up relationships.

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) offers ways to discuss politics, or any sensitive issue, without causing a rift in the relationship.

“First, there is no rulebook that suggests couples must agree on political issues, or even discuss their ideologies,” says Rachel Bernstein, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of CAMFT. “Differing points of view are a healthy part of any relationship and as long as couples are equipped with the right tools, they can talk about sensitive issues, such as politics, without a problem.”

Bernstein encourages those who do wish to discuss such issues to set a few ground rules:

  1. Decide together when and where it is appropriate to discuss politics. If children are present, couples should decide whether to discuss certain issues around them. If you choose to do so, frame the conversation without forming an argument. Likewise, don’t burden guests with conflicting opinions, especially with the hope of forcing sides or having them choose a side.
  2. Be sensitive and respectful. A partner shouldn’t interrupt by disagreeing or insulting the other is expressing his/her view. Stay away from using phrases such as, “That’s stupid,” “You’re wrong,” or “How can you possibly think that?” Don’t judge, but respect that your partner may base his/her opinions on facts and statistics or emotions, and all are equally valid positions.
  3. Show interest in each other’s point of view. This may not mean agreeing with your partner’s opinions, but listen to his/her idea(s) and try to understand how he/she came to feel that way. Couples may learn that their partner’s opinions have merit.

“The fact that you have political discussions where you take a position you care about, even if it differs from your partner’s, says more about what you have in common than about what your differences are,” Bernstein adds. “Remembering this will help things not become as contentious.”

To learn more on how to discuss sensitive topics in your relationship, or to find a therapist in your area, visit where you can sort by specialty area.

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of marriage and family therapists. CAMFT provides as a free resource for individuals looking for marriage and family therapists located in California. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists treat a comprehensive range of issues including depression, anxiety, phobias/fears, elder and child issues, relationship issues, post-traumatic stress, and severe mental illness. For more information, visit or

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