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A family divided: How to bridge political opposites

  • Lindsay Ferrier is an election correspondent for CafeMom
  • She spoke with a husband and wife who are polar opposites when it comes to politics
  • The couple's advice: Listen to each other and stick to facts, not emotions
A family divided: How to bridge political opposites
Lindsay Ferrier

She's voting for Romney, he's voting for Obama!

She's voting for Romney, he's voting for Obama!

Editor’s note: Lindsay Ferrier is an election correspondent for CafeMom and author of “Suburban Turmoil." She is on Twitter.

Steve and Julie Gild are hardly the only husband and wife who disagree when it comes to politics. Friendships and family ties across the nation are being tested by the upcoming election.

To find out how to deal when someone you love is your political polar opposite, I asked the Gilds for a few pointers. Here’s what they had to say.

Steve says: Political wars are all in the family

  • Let's not kid anyone: Every family has different political views. Even if spouses/siblings/cousins vote for the same candidate or party, there will always be differences in why they voted the way they did. Even in one-party families, there can be “wedge” issues. Recognizing that wedge, whether it is 10 miles wide or 10 inches wide, is key. 
  • What is the end result for a certain political choice? Identify that “end game” and share it with the people you are conversing with. You can't lead someone down a path if they don't know where they are going. 
  • “Unlearn what you have learned,” as Yoda once said. People think certain issues are Republican or Democrat. Most really are not. Energy independence is something both parties want -- it’s how we get there that is key. 
  • Don't try to “one up” the other person: It just isn't going to happen. Trying to do so only leads to frustration. Why win a battle and lose a war? Sometimes, it is best to just walk away. 

Julie says: Want to hear an opposing view? Listen, listen, listen!

  • The first thing to do is to listen (which is hard for extroverted type A people). And if you listen to not only what your opposing side is saying nationally but also in your house, you can gain a better understanding of what is really at stake. It may not be a side that you have thought of before or a facet of the issue that goes unnoticed.
  • Do your own homework: So many times people fashion their opinions on what they have heard others say (most often those, too, are opinions then translated as facts). When having household debates, I have far more respect for things that aren't just parroted from the headlines, talk shows, etc.
  • Respect that the other person is just as invested as you are in their point of view. The more invested they are, the more emotional it can become. Try to keep personal feelings out of the discussion. Using a political issue as a personal attack is never OK. Stick to facts and if you find that emotion is creeping in, table the discussion for another time when things have cooled down.
  • There are some things that you may have to agree to disagree on. But hopefully, the other person who has disagreed with you for so long might actually do his homework, listen, respect your point of view, and come to the realization that his wife was right all along!

That’s sage advice from a couple who’s managed to thrive despite some pretty major ideological differences! What advice do you have on dealing with political adversaries within your own household?

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