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Sometimes, when we are incredibly passionate about a particular topic, it feels like life or death if our partner doesn’t agree. How can we have a positive interaction with a loved one when we disagree so firmly on an important issue?

The greatest and most important challenge here is separating the topic from the person you’re talking to. It’s easy to think “If they believe this, then they’re a terrible person.” But break that down — is that really, truly true? Isn’t this your partner, who you believe the best about? Those are big leaps and conclusions that cause a lot of unnecessary stress — for you and your partner! All-or-nothing thinking will have you diving down the darkest trails, even questioning your relationship. And that stress just isn’t necessary.

We are complex people with complex ideas. That’s why compassionate listening is so important; if you start with compassionate listening, you’re recognizing the nuances in your relationship and your partner.

Compassionate listening means being more curious and asking questions that are gentle, not pummeling. In other words, believing the best in your partner — because you can rest assured they are doing the best they can. We all are.

Sometimes you will need to agree-to-disagree wholeheartedly. Understand that there’s probably reasons you may never fully understand that fuel their thought process. Opinions can be based on a wide variety of influences, ranging from childhood upbringing, to current job, to recent or even past trauma. If you can understand and connect with your partner compassionately, you can more realistically work to get on the same page.