Pati, Patni and Politics: How to manage differences in political views

Happy couple

“He thinks Hillary rocks!” “She votes BJP!” “He is an AAPtard!” “She actually listens to Trump speeches!” When you are in your 20s, statements like these are deal-breakers. You cannot be with someone who does not share your political views. I lost a friend when his views got too radical for my liking.

As we grow older and wiser or more practical, we learn to overlook some things, yet the wound is still there. Nobody else may notice or care but come to the elections and you’re smarting. It is literally sleeping with the enemy. You try to see the other person’s point of view as they defend their party, you argue in favour of your candidate and try to tell yourself it’s only an election…

Most times our political views are inherited, which is why it’s difficult to shake them off. It almost feels like you are being disloyal to your family. And yet, don’t we all know that some of the stuff we have inherited isn’t good for us at all?

Someone I dated in the past had grown up in a right-wing family and I come from a family with leftist leanings. Neither of us really held strong political views; we lived comfortable lives and would not go out of our way to do anything even remotely political. Yet I could see the signs and I’m sure so could he. If he voted ‘that’ way, would he object to my friends from the other community? He saw me reading Che Guevara’s biography yet again and started wondering if the driver would come into the restaurant with us for dinner… I sulked through a meal with his conservative aunt and he slept through a play on trade unions. We sensibly parted ways, but I see friends and colleagues actually suffer due to issues like these.

Related reading: How our differences make our marriage a success

So how do you solve this political problem at an individual level? Religion and politics can create problems at any level!

Woman with folded hands
Different views

When I met the man who is now my husband we decided to keep politics out of the home. Sure we argue a lot on our political views, but we refuse to let it get in the way of the life we have built together. A few pointers that served me well are:

Don’t take it personally, unless you work for the political party. It’s an emotional reaction to something everyone is emotional about, so it’s not a personal attack. Don’t let it get into name-calling or drag other issues into it. It’s only armchair philosophy, so ignore it. What would you do if someone were ranting on a TV debate? Walk away or change the channel, right? Do the same in a conversation, shift the subject to sports or sex and all will be well.

Remember, whoever told you that you can be totally honest with family was lying. So it’s fine if you feel strongly about your party but don’t tom-tom it. In the end, it’s a secret ballot, so do exactly what you want when you go to vote.

Related reading: 10 reasons why Indian couples fight

Don’t worry about the kids; they will form their own opinion despite what either of you says. Talk to them about informed risk-taking instead.

When you are dying to vent, blog about it or write a letter to the editor under a pen name. Then, at a later date, show it to the partner saying you’re not the only one who feels this way!

If an action or speech by the enemy camp gets you particularly mad…remember it was not your partner out there. Will, it matters 5 years or even 5 days later?

Don’t lash out at him/her or vent your anger on the meal you’re cooking. Just take the evening or day off and spend time doing what you like. A run with your headphones blasting your favourite music usually works.

At the risk of repeating myself, please fight fair in this political war. If it quickly turns to accusations about money or family or fidelity, be glad you are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. The issues and not these subjects are what need to be looked at and resolved. You may have different political leanings just like you may have different tastes in music or the AC temperature. It’s the underlying unspoken issues that are warning signs. Pay heed to them and let the political monkeys continue their circus.

Deep down, both of you know the choice is always between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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