Agree to disagree? How to talk politics in a politically divided household

ByNydia Han and Cheryl Mettendorf via WPVI logo
Monday, October 26, 2020
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Politically divided households are more common than ever as we near the upcoming presidential election.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Politically divided households are more common than ever as we near the upcoming presidential election.

We know parents sometimes disagree with children, and siblings cab disagree as well.

But perhaps it is most difficult when the conflict involves couples.

A recent post on Troubleshooter Nydia Han's Facebook page showed just how divided people are.

She asked the question, "Are you in a relationship in which your spouse or partner is on the opposite side of the political aisle?" and comments on her page erupted.

Jennifer Cavalier wrote in:

"Hi, Nydia, I'm responding to your question about politics and relationships and I do not bring up politics at this time it's too tense."

A viewer by the name of Greg said:

"My wife and I are on opposite sides of the political aisle it is definitely an interesting time in our house."

And Gretchen sent in a video venting her frustrations:

"My husband Tom and I can agree on a lot of things but not when it comes to politics."

Mimmy Magette said perhaps one possible "good" thing about Covid is not having to seeing some extended family who do not share her views.

"Things have been rather frustrating, we are almost glad we are social distancing this Thanksgiving," she said.

Kaitlin and Trevor, who are engaged to be married next year, compared themselves to political power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin.

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Trevor said he is voting Trump while Kaitlin is a Biden supporter.

Nydia Han asked, "So what is it like in your household right now and how do you make it work?

"Make no mistake, there has been arguments," Kaitlin replied.

Professor Diana Mutz with the University of Pennsylvania studies political communication.

"Tensions are running very, very high this presidential election year," Mutz said.

Mutz said do not use the first presidential debate as a model for how to have a political conversation.

Mutz said that instead of trying to change someone's mind, make it your goal to better understand the other person's views.

"It's better for people to take turns, let the other person speak, don't interrupt, just focus on listening. And then let them, you know, have a turn to do the same."

Mutz also says don't feel pressure to engage in political discussion at all.

And if you do, set ground rules from the beginning and schedule a time when both of you are in the right frame of mind to talk.

"It takes a lot of compartmentalization, it takes a lot of compromises or to agree to disagree," Mutz said.

But, perhaps Kaitlin's best advice?

"I would just say to everyone just be kind to each other," she said.