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Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

You may not always agree with your partner on political, philosophical, or theological ideas — how do you manage that conversation without it becoming volatile? Emotions are running high right now and a lot of people don’t know what they believe. We want to come to our own conclusions, but that can feel intimidating when you don’t have the exact same stance as your partner on something — especially when you thought you DID have the same view! So what do you do when you hit that moment?

5 things to do when you disagree on a fundamental belief: 

1) Listen to understand. Set your perspective aside for a minute. To start: don’t try and persuade. Just listen. Why is this so important to them? Does this relate somehow to their childhood or an event that’s happened to you in the past? Where’s the root of the emotional stress coming from?

2) Ask for what you need. After you’ve listened, let them know what YOU need to feel heard. How will you feel they are listening to understand you? With grace, explain how they can do that.

3) Share your feelings without blame. Instead of saying “I feel like you attacked me,” say “I feel attacked. I feel defensive.” Feeling sentences are three words long. I feel _____. Not “I feel like you’re not listening and you’re a doo-doo head!”

4) Practice reflective listening. After you both have shared, make sure each time you reflect back what you heard. And VALIDATE. Even if you don’t agree, you can validate that their feelings are real and validate that there are possible reasons for why they’d see the world that way.

5) Distill the issue. Go down to the core need. What’s the ONE thing you feel you can’t negotiate away from? What’s the core? “I cannot tolerate spanking our children.” Another person might say “I cannot tolerate disrespect.” From those core needs, you might see a clear option for compromise, as long as you both are honoring that core need.

If you get to a point where you see these core needs are mutually exclusive, that’s the time to include a therapist.