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I have intense political debates with my husband. I hate that they make us feel disconnected.

selfie of katie matthews and her husband
The author, left, and her husband often engage in heated political debates
  • My husband and I are on the same page on just about everything except politics.
  • Our debates can make us feel worlds apart.
  • Our debates have made me realize how much I equate being agreeable with being accepted and loved.

My husband has been my best friend for 20 years.

We met and married young, and throughout our 13-year marriage, we've been on the same page on just about everything — from finances to parenting to which show to binge next. We've always been able to talk about anything, and we treasure our deep conversations.

But when it comes to politics, our debates can feel like they are tearing us apart.

We're from two different worlds with ever-evolving views

Born and raised in the UK, my husband moved to my hometown in Alabama after living in Australia for six years. I've lived in Alabama all my life, and our varied life experiences leave us with a lot to talk about. We aren't polar opposites by any stretch, but our differences are enough to create some heated debates — usually rooted in our different experiences.

We can't help but talk about politics often. After all, we've always talked about everything. It's instinctual to ask each other what we thought of the day's headlines. But we've had enough contentious debates by now that we are more choosey about what we bring up and when.

Since we have young kids, finding the right time to discuss politics is hard. We don't normally have to hide our conversations from them, but when it comes to politics, I know the kids can feel our temperatures rise even while we try to keep our cool. Of course, we reassure them that this is all OK. We want them to grow up knowing that differences of opinion shouldn't be feared and even heated debates are healthy.

But I think I, more so than my husband, still need to work on believing that myself.

Our debates have made me realize how much I equate being agreeable with being accepted and loved. I haven't had to challenge this much in our marriage since we are rarely on either side of anything. I know that disagreeing with him on political issues isn't a threat to our relationship, but sometimes, it feels that way. It sometimes feels like we barely know each other, and it can leave me unsure of where we stand.

It helps us to remember that we aren't reduced to our political perspectives

I don't think we are solely to blame for feeling so disconnected over political differences. The divisive US political landscape certainly plays a role. It can feel like if you're one degree on the other side, you are all the way wrong. When we get entrenched in our positions, I catch myself believing it about my husband — even though I know it's not true.

But when we come down from those intense debates, we remember that our identities are not reduced to our political perspectives. Our connection does not depend on where we fall along the political spectrum.

And when we take the time to understand where the other is coming from, we realize the core characteristics we love and trust in each other drive our differing political views.

When we can keep that in mind, listening to each other helps refine our opinions. While I might agree that there's not much point in trying to change a stranger's politics over the internet, I do think open and honest debates with those closest to us whom we love and trust have the ability to be productive, as intense as they can be. He and I have certainly shifted our own views in light of the other's.

What does not serve us, though, is getting at each other's throats about things we have little actual control over, so we are working on doing that less. It's easier said than done.

The key for us, I think, is trusting in the strength of our connection. I'm learning that disagreement doesn't necessarily equal disconnection, as much as it can feel like it does. And I'm becoming more comfortable with it being part of our relationship.

I'm more convinced now than ever that I don't need someone who thinks exactly like me. Sharing unity doesn't require conformity. I just want someone who loves, respects, and listens to me as I do him.

And that's something we've always done well.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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