SAN DIEGO, May 30, 2017 – The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States unsettled plenty of Americans. It’s sent many into the streets to speak out with protests.
It’s also created problems in the bedrooms of numerous married couples. In some cases, it has exposed significant differences leading to divorce.
A recently released stuff from the Arlington, Virgina-based polling Firm Wakefield Research found couples are increasingly arguing about politics, with President Trump’s election leading the list. Ten percent of all couples (both married and unmarried) reported their disagreements are so serious, they have ended their relationship including filing for divorce.
For millennials, battles over politics have sent them separate ways at a rate of just over one in five couples. This may be due to younger couples cohabitating instead of getting married, permitting them to split up more easily.
The survey, which was conducted nationwide with 1,000 participants from April 12 to April 18, also found that 22% of Americans know a couple whose marriage or relationship “has been negatively impacted specifically due to President Trump’s election.”
Wakefield Research managing director Lisa Johnson Kiefer said, “This study was conducted as part of Wakefield Research’s ongoing exploration of the trends driving conversations today in the U.S. and worldwide. Our research team regularly fields studies that examine how relationships are impacted by current events, so it was natural for us to ask about today’s political environment. We wanted to understand how, if at all, the current political environment was impacting romantic relationships.”
Wakefield says one out of four Americans in a relationship or married report “they and their partner have disagreed or argued about politics more than ever” since Donald Trump was elected.
Single Americans were also surveyed. One third say they’d divorce a spouse who disagreed with them on politics. The number jumps to 43 percent among Millennial singles.
Money and financial issues remains the number one reason most couples cite for getting divorced. But in my experience as a family law attorney, a lack of trust is central to most marriages breaking up. When trust is lost, the couple is rarely able to restore it.
When people disagree about something as fundamental to their identify and beliefs as politics or religion, there might be a tendency to avoid the subject. This will backfire. Once it comes out into the open, as it did during the recent election, criticism can devolve to disrespect, which turns into a lack of trust.
It is true some couples find a way to embrace political differences. Some don’t care. But others still consider having similar views non-negotiable. Everyone grows up with different family and cultural influences, different experiences, a personal psychological makeup, and the subjective lens through which every individual views the world. It isn’t just about politics. Differences are bound to exist or arise. One person’s convictions may be another’s contentions.
Differences often center around expectations having to do with money, religion, parenting, lifestyle, or extended family relationships. With an especially heated election season upon us, politics has joined the list. How do couples with strongly divided political views avoid being torn apart?
There are three questions to ask yourself when politics threatens your marriage:
- Do you respect your partner and accept him or her unconditionally?
- Do you argue well?
- Can you imagine your life without your partner, even if he or she doesn’t change views?
Many people who disagree with someone develop contempt for the other person. This is poisonous to a marriage. The moment your relationship involves disrespect, criticizing, or belittling, whether or not it’s caused by politics or another fundamental difference setting up one person as “right” and the other as “wrong,” you are in the divorce danger zone.
As with the other contentious issues, it is all about communication. Some people need to learn how to communicate with respect, and to learn how to listen and accept another person’s perspective.
Can marriage counseling save a politically mixed marriage? Sometimes. Discussing your differences in the presence of a neutral marriage counselor can help you put things in perspective, identify your relationship’s positive qualities, and move you to the point of accepting differences of opinion as healthy. It is certainly worth a try.
Remember also, in four or eight years, the political shoe may be on the opposite foot.
Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra. Fleischer can be reached via Google +
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