If you're dreading going home for the holidays, you're not alone. The thought of a family dinner with members holding opposing political views sounds like a recipe for disaster, but there are ways to get through it without stirring up drama. Relationship adviser Cathryn Mora from lovespark.me shared her best tips for surviving the holiday season with loved ones despite your beliefs.
Here's how to deal with post-election discussion this holiday season.
1. Work through differences but recognize the importance of your existing commitment.
If the election brings up value differences between family members, this is an important situation to work though, but it's also very important to recognize that for a family or couple who are already committed to each other, you have an existing relationship or commitment that needs to be valued and honored. For example, in an ideal situation, you would marry someone who shares your exact values, but this doesn't always happen, and something like the election can make differences arise that you weren't aware of.
So remember — you're already a family, so love and value each other regardless.
2. Learn how to argue "fairly."
When you're discussing, you could disagree about the topic without making personal attacks or criticisms. Learn how to ask open-ended questions to understand the other person's point of view, like . . . "I hadn't thought of it that way. Tell me more about that . . . I'm interested to know the thinking behind that . . . "
Don't say things like "how could you believe that!," "that's ridiculous!," "I would never have married you if I'd known you felt that way!"
3. Don't put your "map," or your perspective, onto another person.
You and your partner or family member might view things differently, and it may be impossible to understand HOW they could have this belief . . . But everyone has a long life journey to get to where they are today, and the whole of who they are is the sum of a lot of small incidents and influences.
It's not possible for another person to share your exact story, and they don't need to. Your perspective or belief may feel like the only view, but it's still just your view. Respect that people are complicated, and their personal beliefs exist and are based on a variety of factors.
4. It's OK to walk away.
From the discussion, not your relationship! Especially if you're dealing with family during the holidays. Arguing about politics is the oldest cheer-killer in the world. If you overhear or begin to get involved in a discussion about politics, it's OK to excuse yourself. You could say, "I'd like to relax and enjoy the day. I'm going to excuse myself from this discussion . . . " Just take the heat off.
5. Recognize your area of control and influence.
You can't change value-based beliefs with logic. Arguing about politics will never result in either person changing their views, because politics and the process of an election are very much based in speaking to people's values, because politicians know that's where their messages hit home.
This means that trying to change someone's political views is basically trying to change who they are at their core. It's not going to happen.
If that person is your romantic partner, you need to find a way to align your values. Sometimes you share the same values, but you've lost sight of that. Rediscover your shared values together and focus on those.