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The Taboo Topic of Politics: Loving Someone with an Opposing Point of View

By Linda Wisniewski January 14, 2024 Family

“Politics make strange bedfellows” says a mid-19th century proverb, meaning people of widely differing views come together when they have a common cause. It’s certainly true of my husband and me. We are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, and for years, I despaired of ever discussing elections without walking away from him in disgust.

A Little or a Lot Mismatched

Before we were married, he said, “So what if you’re a little to the left of center and I’m a little to the right of center.” We were falling in love and that seemed a good enough reason to let it go. But as the years passed, and the political landscape became more fraught and contentious, those differences seemed “more than a little.” I became frustrated with him for sticking to his more conservative views.

I wished we could be like James Carville and Mary Matalin, the political commentators from different parties who have been married for decades. What’s their secret? I wondered. A 2016 article at stated that 30 percent of married households contain a mismatched partisan pair. “Mismatched partisan pair” sounds dire, doesn’t it? But does it have to be?

Look for Common Ground

Relationship expert Anita Chlipala says it’s important to look for common ground where your beliefs may overlap. Like many “strange bedfellows,” my husband and I agree that poverty and homelessness should be eradicated, but we disagree on how that should be accomplished. He doesn’t see my way is best, but I get nowhere trying to force him to change. It only makes us both tired of talking about it.

In her book, Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work, Tania Israel advises not shaming your partner or throwing opposing facts at them but asking questions instead.

Questions like:

  • What have you seen that causes you to feel that way?
  • What do you want to see in our country’s future?
  • What worries you about the current political climate?

Listening vs. Agreeing

Over time, I have found that making myself listen, and trying to understand his point of view, does not mean that I agree with my spouse. It just means I love him and want to get along.

Listening to his answers without jumping in with my counterargument, as I used to do, preserves his dignity and brings us closer, as I learn more about his motivations, many of which are not that different from my own. We both want the best for people, peace in the world and our country, and enough resources to enjoy our lives.

Challenging Our Own Beliefs

Over a long relationship, we have both moved a tiny bit closer to the other’s views. Sometimes, I share with him articles I find online that are closer to his beliefs than mine. Reading them has helped me understand the conservative philosophy. If I just stick to my own, likely biased, outlets, I’ll never learn anything new or challenge my own beliefs. And sometimes I do need to challenge myself.

Voting for different candidates has no effect on our daily life together and scoffing because he reads a very conservative newspaper is really belittling him and his intelligence, something a loving partner should not do. If you feel that’s happening, and your partner is contemptuous toward you because of your political beliefs, try a different approach. If that’s impossible, you may want to consider ending the relationship.

“Criticism and contempt are toxic relationship behaviors, and if they aren’t stopped, [they] can create irreparable damage,” says Chlipala.

The Propaganda Factor

These days, there’s another very damaging phenomenon going on: propaganda and misinformation. If your partner is adding politics to more and more conversations, exhibiting frightening anger, spending time alone in chat rooms, and mentioning conspiracy theories, they may be influenced by propaganda.

Former cult member and deprogrammer Steve Hassan advises against trying to talk them out of it which can make them feel belittled or persecuted. Instead, he recommends reconnecting over shared interests and experiences, like hobbies or vacations, to remind them of who they are outside of these beliefs.

Another technique is to redirect them toward legitimate organizations working on issues they care about, like ending human trafficking or having safe and secure elections.

Bottom Line

Keep the lines of communication open, but don’t put up with talk that is damaging to the well-being of your marriage or your own emotional health.

It’s a crazy world out there, and we need our bedfellows now more than ever. Let’s make sure they feel welcome and ‘agree to disagree’. We may both learn something and even change a little bit in the process – a good thing at any age.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What are some taboo topics in your marriage/partnership? Are you and your spouse on different ends of the political (or other) spectrum? How do you handle those differences? Have you searched for professional help?

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Thank you for such a relevant and enlightened article.
I don’t believe our political party or whether we are theist or atheist etc. should define us.
We are all so much more than that..
I think our beliefs seem to be based on a variety of life experiences and what resonates or possibly triggers us.

The best gift we can give to ourselves and others is to treat everyone with kindness and respect.
Be curious about why someone believes the way they do. Ask questions.

It never seemed to be such a big deal back in the day.
The world has just gotten to loud and divisive.
Instead of constantly allowing ourselves to be manipulated by the media etc, let’s just take a pause and bring it back to our hearts.

Open minds, open hearts.
This is just my opinion.


It sounds like the author is the only one in the marriage making an effort there. Understanding must come from both sides of the fence. I think how you feel politically defines who you are so I would never consider a mate not alligned closely with my beliefs. My extended family has experienced 2 divorces since MAGA so I don’t believe they will work long term.


Good advice in this article, not just for your spouse with different views, but also close friends and family who may have different views. I think the idea of trying to learn the opposing side’s true concerns is a reasonable and intelligent approach. Otherwise, we are just preaching to our own chior and gaining nothing in the process.

The Author

Linda C. Wisniewski is a former librarian living in Doylestown, PA. She is the author of a memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother and Her Polish Heritage and a time travel novel, Where the Stork Flies. Visit her blog at

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