Is Your Spouse Obsessed with Politics? 6 Ways You Can Help
The Hebrew sages wrote, “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife” (Prov. 21:19). Of course, the same principle applies with quarrelsome, nagging husbands. And these days, few things cause as many unnecessary fights as political disagreements.
I get it. You’d like to think that because you’re married, you’ll see eye to eye on all political matters, but this is rarely the case. Personally, I like discussing important topics with my wife, but I know things are headed sideways when either of us begins to obsess over politics.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen political strife tear down hard-won trust in marriages, which makes me ask: Is there a way to navigate a spouse who is obsessed with politics?
While there is no silver bullet, there are a few ways you can help your husband or wife by addressing the drama both in the heat of the moment and after the dust settles.
6 Ways to Help Your Politics-Obsessed Spouse
- Watch out for anger. Brain scientists who study anger have shown that when we get angry, our brain suppresses its higher reasoning functions. Put simply, the angrier we get, the more stupid we get.
Of course, you don’t need a brain scan to discover this: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29). If you find yourself getting angry, it’s probably time to shut up. If someone else is getting angry, don’t escalate. Instead, suggest that everyone take a breather and revisit the topic later.
- Ask a 1 to 10 question. Sometimes your spouse genuinely wants to have a dialogue about an important issue. Other times, she just wants a soapbox. To figure out which, ask her, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how certain are you that ____ is true?” If she answers between 8–10, then you can be certain she only wants a soapbox. Patiently endure and move on.
If she answers between 1–7, she wants a conversation. Don’t shy away from an interesting discussion! To move things forward, you can ask, “What would it take to change your mind on this topic?” You could love her by seeking out the mind-changing information (or having your own mind changed in the search).
- View it as a learning experience. Our certainty should only be proportionate to our knowledge. Unfortunately, much of our political knowledge comes from clickbaity headlines and news organizations that make money by making people angry.
For that reason alone, you should doubt how well informed you personally are about any topic. Ask your spouse questions that allow him to express his opinions. Even if you disagree, hold your tongue. You might even learn something valuable about the topic.
- Interrogate any doubt. Of course, it’s equally true that your spouse may be speaking with more certainty than his knowledge justifies. If that’s the case, try asking: “What doubts or questions do you have about your perspective on this issue?” This will allow him space for a more thoughtful conversation, where you both can share questions and seek answers constructively.
- Emphasize shared identities. Unfortunately, politics has become a team sport. So, what’s at stake during a political argument? My team winning.
In the ancient world, ethnic strife worked the same way, so when it threatened to tear apart the early church, the apostle Paul tried to remind people that they were actually on the same team: “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11). Remind your spouse what you share: a faith, a name, a life together, experiences. Say, “Doesn’t that matter more than politics?”
- Confront with humility. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). When your spouse gets heated, give her a gentle answer: “I care about important issues, just like you do. It’s easy for me to get carried away, and I’m sure you’ve seen it. But don’t you think these fights are doing more harm than good? What if we stopped talking about these topics or revisited them when we are both a bit more levelheaded?” You might be surprised by how much a humble, non-judgmental confrontation disarms your spouse.
It's true: partisan tribalism can drive a wedge between you and your spouse. Thankfully, Jesus provided us with an example for rejecting tribalism and choosing unity.
Want something tangible to share with your spouse too? How about our podcast? Our first episode examines tribalism from a beginner’s perspective and might be a great place for them to start their journey to de-tribalize.
Posted by Patrick Miller