Did Your Vote Damage Your Relationships?

Here’s how to avoid it

Tracy Stengel

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Photo by Obie Fernandez on Unsplash

My friend, Kari, is already dreading the holidays. It’s not due to the stress of picking out the perfect gifts. It’s not the extra spending. It’s not even the 10 pounds she gains every year from eating fudge — her personal Kriptonite. Instead, it’s because of politics.

“It’s going to be a nightmare,” she groaned. “My dad believes the last presidential election was stolen and can’t get over it. My sister is pro-life and my sister-in-law works at Planned Parenthood. Since retirement, Mom volunteers at the local shelter and my brother doesn’t believe anyone should get handouts. He thinks everyone struggling is on drugs and should just get a job. Every year, the bickering gets worse. I just can’t take it anymore.”

Kari isn’t alone. According to a recent Siena College-The New York Times poll, 19% of registered voters said differing views on politics have damaged their relationships with friends and family.

In an article in Psychology Today, Stephen J. Betchen, D.S.W., gives four pieces of advice to those who are trying to keep their loved ones close in these turbulent political times.

Calm Down

Everyone is entitled to an option and not everyone is going to agree. Keep your voice level and don’t get riled. Don’t attack someone’s character based on the way they vote. Avoid triggering words like ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Trumpkin.’ Don’t use trite phrases like, “Maybe you need to do some research!” This is a conversation you are having with someone important to you. Don’t make it resemble a bad comment section on social media.

Don’t Try to Hammer Home Your Point

You probably aren’t going to change anyone’s mind if they are firm in their beliefs. It’s may not be worth the effort to try. Betchen said, “Remember that when you are arguing with someone you are not simply challenging them on an issue; you are arguing with their history — the way they were raised, and their life experiences. Psychotherapists can attest to how hard it is to help someone to change, even when they are paying for it. What chance do you think you have?”

Embrace Your Differences

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Tracy Stengel

Writer and freelance fiction editor. Find me curled up w/ a blanket of metaphors or at www.tracystengel.com. You can buy me ☕️ at https://ko-fi.com/tracystengel