Marriage, politics, Thanksgiving — a tricky triad at any time! And this year, with all the post-election processing, it may be especially challenging to manage everyone around the table. So, how can you keep marriage, politics and Thanksgiving from undoing each other? How can you keep political tensions at the table from ruining your carefully basted Turkey?
First, focus on the basics when it comes to communication skills. That means be a super skilled listener and speaker. When listening, hard as it may be, find something that makes sense about what the other person is saying. No question that can be a challenge if you’re seated next to a friend or family member whose politics are diametrically opposed to yours, and at the same time, listen hard and think carefully as there almost always is a core kernel one can agree with in any political opinion.
At the same time, be careful when speaking. It’s easy to generalize and talk in a way that assumes others share your perspectives. Express your opinions as just that, your opinions. Stick to “I” statements. Be wary of accidentally including others by saying things like “we need to,” or “our country would be better if . . . ” A simple, “I believe in” or “I’m worried that. . . ” will be less likely to evoke a defensive response.
Power of Two coaches have many more tips on how to talk and listen to avoid marriage problems.
Likewise, you might want to check out our founder Dr. Heitler’s thoughts on how to cope with the post election blues if you’re struggling to make sense of the election (or if you have family who is less than thrilled).
One more tip that’s sure to work if things are really tense at your table. Focus on the food! For one day, put politics aside and enjoy everyone’s cooking. Feel thankful for all that is in front of you and keep the conversation there as well.