Tatiana Answers how to handle discussions within families when politics differ among the members

Tatiana –

Recently, I was in a close friend group of well-educated, Christian and moderately conservative friends. The subject came up that marriages and family relationships are being highly challenged, due to the current political era of divisiveness and negativity.  Specifically, personal relationships, that were once more in sync, are now adamantly retreating to opposite corners with staunch differing opinions and changes of heart, and it’s causing stress and heartache. I’m seeing this with parents having differences with their teens and young adults and also husbands and wives differing in their views.

One husband has dug his heels into his strong conservative values (while not agreeing with the President personally) while his wife has become more liberally minded, resulting in daily arguments about the state of our country, world and future. Conversations, in many families, are being challenged and often causing extreme pain and conflict, within otherwise, loving relationships. These politically, spiritually and socially charged disagreements are important issues, but also painful and hard to navigate within such close and personal relationships.

Thank you for your advice and feedback about keeping precious relationships healthy, as differing opinions and attitudes can be so divisive these days.



Dear Anonymous,

There is a reason our society has been encouraged to avoid discussions of politics and religion; they are emotionally triggering topics. When emotionally triggering topics are discussed, the risk of impulsive and self-sabotaging behaviors increase as the emotions increase. Some individuals are skilled in discussing these emotional topics in an un-emotional way. (That does not mean they are not passionate or faithful regarding their belief system; it just means they are in charge of their behavioral responses to their emotions in that moment.) If you find conflict consistently arises when discussing these topics with another individual, see if they are willing to put some rules in place regarding future discussions. Make a commitment to one another to make statements that are un-emotional, objective, fact based and non-judgmental. The reality is that neuro-biologically speaking, human beings are going to respond to feeling attacked by either fighting, fleeing or shutting down. None of those responses will win them over to your way of thinking. It’s ineffective and exhausting.


Tatiana Matthews LPC

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Tatiana Matthews, LPC