It’s not bad enough he’s ruining the country. It turns out he’s also straining a lot of relationships. The New York Times reported that some married couples that disagree in opinion on Trump are considering divorce. Slate, Psychology Today and New York Magazine also reported similar findings. As a shrink, I know this. Every week, my office is filled with distraught clients wondering what their partner’s support of Trump says about the partner’s character. A female client recently said, “It’s not a difference in political opinions. It underscores a difference in how we see the world – in our values. At best, he’s a soft misogynist. What am I doing with someone like that? No matter how great the sex is, it has to be a deal breaker.”
But does it?
I’m not sure a vote for Trump should become the litmus test for relationship compatibility.
The real test is how well you’re able to manage yourselves when emotions are high. People who try to hash things out when they’re escalated are asking for trouble. The key is knowing when you’re too pissed off to communicate productively. I like to use a scale of 0-10, zero being completely neutral (not pissed off at all) and ten being seeing-red-angry. Use the formula below to determine when it’s time to go to your separate corners:
0-3 = OK to talk.
4-6 = Take at least a 5 minute time out. Leave the room. Get some air. Come back only when you’re under a 4.
7, 8, 9, 10 = You’re done talking. For a long time. At least an hour. Maybe more. Step away from the partner. Change your focus. Watch TV, go online, read a book – clear your head. Only come back when you’re under a 4.
Bottom line: Trump’s just a trigger. He represents a topic that underscores an area of disagreement. So instead of letting this political upheaval cause a war in the bedroom, I challenge you to take it as an opportunity to practice one of the most important relationship skills there is: Managing your emotions. Learning how to step away from each other when you’re heated is all part of adulting. It’s all about relationship skills. We’re not born with them, but we certainly can learn them.
Want to know what to do when you’ve calmed down? Click here for our FREE Cheat Sheet, “How to communicate when you disagree with your partner.”