The most recent political campaign really did a number on civil political conversation—among friends, Facebook “friends,” family members, and even between husbands and wives. Many of us couldn’t wait for the election to be over, so some of the division and rancor could stop. But instead of a return to civil public discourse since the election, it seems to have gotten worse. Of course there’s value to impassioned ideals and strongly held convictions. It’s when the expression of those opinions—and how we treat people who disagree with us—turns nasty that relationships can pay the price.
Katelyn and Trent used to be on the same political page, but now they’re very divided. Katelyn says she can’t skim past a cable news channel without her husband trying to force her into a discussion about a political issue. Trent is trying to “convert” her to his viewpoints, she won’t budge, and it’s driving him crazy. They never used to argue but now they seem to argue all the time. He gets mad that she doesn’t want to indulge him. To complicate matters, they’ve raised their teenagers to believe certain things that Trent now feels differently about, so Katelyn has asked him to leave them out of the conversation so they’re not taking turns telling them why the other parent is wrong. But he’s constantly challenging their views, too. Fortunately, they politely listen and go on with their lives, and they’re more concerned right now with their music and iPhones. Katelyn doesn’t agree with a lot of Trent’s views, but he’s a grown-up and she respects his choices. She wonders why he can’t respect hers.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in that uncomfortable situation with your spouse. How can you—and Katelyn—keep the peace and let your mate know that you don’t want to fight about politics anymore?