"Opinion" Handling a house divided

Jennifer Bonn

The author and her husbandPhoto byJen Bonn

My husband and I are polar opposites politically. We belong to different parties, but our biggest differences involve the way we believe our political system should work. I believe both parties should work together for the good of our nation while he sees the two parties as a competition, and he will follow his party blindly as long as it means a win. I believe partisan politics is divisive, and we will get more done with bipartisan politics, but he believes that only his party knows how to lead correctly. He also voted for a candidate that he admits has no business in a leadership position only because he was a member of his party. When I asked if he thought it made more sense to vote for the best candidate, he looked at me as if I was crazy. You can imagine those political discussions do not go well in a house divided, but I decided to find a way to discuss the issues with him.

Meet emotions with calm

My husband’s first reaction to a political question from me used to be anger. He would immediately allow his emotions to escalate, and I knew if I met him on the same emotional level the discussion would go nowhere. I stayed calm and stated my opinion. It was interesting to see my lack of emotion eventually diffuse his. Once the emotion is removed, and no one feels threatened, you can have a discussion.

Have your facts ready

There have been several times when my husband will tell me why someone in my party has done something wrong, and I knew the facts to prove him wrong. I will admit though that I am not nearly as knowledgeable on the issues as I should be. An example of this is immigration. I think it is a complex issue, and I don’t know what the answer is. When I said this, my husband went into emotional escalation and said, “I don’t know why the president is letting everyone into our country. Maybe he is hoping that they will vote for him.” My daughter looked at him with that look of what in the world teenagers are so good at doing, and she said, “Dad, they can’t vote.” I have rarely seen my husband speechless, but that is what too much emotion does to your brain.

Try to understand

There have been many situations when I cannot wrap my brain around my husband’s way of thinking, but I always want to hear other opinions, so I ask questions to understand, and I make sure it does not sound as if I am attacking his opinion. I start off by saying things like, “I hear what you are saying.” Once he doesn’t feel as if I am attacking, he is more willing to have a discussion.

I wish I could tell you that we are now on the same page politically, but there are still some chasms in our differences of opinion, but at least we can discuss the issues civilly.

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I am passionate about running, parenting, education, and self-help information. I enjoy writing articles that will offer readers the information needed to help them in some way. I recently retired from teaching French and Spanish for forty years. I run every day and have done all kinds of races from 5ks to ultra-marathons. I have three children and three grandchildren. I write for several magazines in my area, I am a contributor and in charge of the Pinterest board for a parenting magazine called Screamin Mamas, and I have a second book about to be released through Loving, Healing Press called 101 Tips to Ease Your Burdens.

Kennesaw, GA

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