Opposites attract, as the old saying goes, but when two halves of a couple hold different beliefs to one another, it can be the source of constant arguments. In some cases, disagreements about religion, politics or lifestyle choices can even lead to relationships breaking down altogether.
On the dawn of a general election, which is likely to prompt many a heated discussion, Relate counsellor, Denise Knowles has come up with some tips to help support one another, even when couples hold different views.
Know your boundaries: Someone's views on certain issues may have a huge bearing on whether you want to be with that person, whereas other things may not matter so much to you. Work out what your deal breakers are and keep them in mind.
Talk it through: If you've got differing opinions, it's important to talk calmly and openly about them. It may be that afterwards, one person relaxes their view or it becomes clear there's been a misunderstanding from the outset. Even if nothing's resolved it's better to know where you stand.
Do your research: Sometimes we might not know as much about a topic as we think we do. It doesn't hurt to research and get your facts straight before deciding for sure which side of the fence you're on.
Put yourself in their shoes: Perhaps your partner grew up in a different culture or received a different education which has influenced their opinions. Perhaps they vote for a particular political party because their parents always did. Seeing things from their perspective can help you to better understand one another.
Don't force it: It's fine to put your point of view across but imposing your beliefs on another person is not healthy. Equally if your partner is forcing their beliefs on you, this is not something you should have to stand for.
Consider their argument: After you speak to your partner about their beliefs, take some time to consider what the other person has said, then see if you can come back to the issue with some compromises.
Use it as a chance to grow: Different beliefs can be stimulating and provide and an opportunity to for both halves of a couple to grow. Imagine what a boring place the world would be if everybody was exactly the same!
Focus on the common ground: Even if the common ground you have on an issue seems tiny, use it as a point of agreement to consider. You could realise that this aspect is equally important to you both.
Agree to disagree: If it becomes an 'I win, you lose' situation, then the likelihood is that the next time there's a disagreement your partner will be even more determined to win!
Focus on principals not colours: When it comes to tomorrow's election, if you're voting differently and it's leading to disagreements, focus on the principles of the parties rather than the colours. There are probably some core values and morals that you agree on, even if you don't vote the same way.
Relate provides impartial and non-judgmental support for people of all ages, at all stages of couple, family and social relationships.