When opposites attract: How much polarisation can love take?


By AGENCY

Krahe advises couples not to be too hasty when it comes to separating, especially in view of the current extraordinary situation of living in a pandemic world. Photo by Fred Moon/Unsplash

Arguments happen in the best of relationships. But what if this time it's not about what to watch on TV, or whether to keep the socks with holes or throw them away?

What if the dispute revolves around political questions and issues that touch on your own value system?

Especially in the current coronavirus pandemic, it doesn't take long for things to get heated: Some think the restrictions don't go far enough, others think they're too strict - and anyway, it's "like flu".

The fact is: the strain of this exceptional situation, which has been going on for a long time now, does not make talking about things any easier.

"We're living through something that most of us have no experience of and we're in a permanent state of stress because the world we thought we knew feels like it's gone off the rails," says psychologist Nathalie Krahe.

When your partner reveals opinions that scare you

Differences in opinion have always been able to put a strain on relationships, this is nothing new to the pandemic. However, right now we are more likely to be asked to give our stance on certain issues.

This can lead to your partner suddenly revealing views that frighten and anger you. "In normal times, you could probably ignore it for a while, but when it intensifies and increases during a pandemic, it has an explosive power that can cause relationships to break down," says Krahe.

Yet arguments about equality, climate policy or even pandemic restrictions are not harmful to relationships per se - it's more of a question of how.

Differences of opinion between spouses have put a strain in relationships even before the pandemic. But right now, we may be compelled to take a stance on certain issues. Photo: Kelly Sikkema/UnsplashDifferences of opinion between spouses have put a strain in relationships even before the pandemic. But right now, we may be compelled to take a stance on certain issues. Photo: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

"When it comes to political issues, there are couples who find it easy to have a discussion. They like engaging in an intellectual debate, they enjoy it," says couples therapist Anika Boekenhauer.

However, the basic mood is characterised by appreciation and acceptance, which also makes differences in opinion easier to bear.

Her basic advice for good discussions: Don't immediately take an opposing side and defend your own position harshly, but first give the other person space and be curious.

So you ask: "Why do you feel that way about it?" Then you listen patiently and at some point say,"Okay, I have a different opinion on this - do you want to hear it?" On the other hand, it's not helpful if the attitude is that there's a winner and a loser.

When fundamental values are touched upon

Topics such as equal rights for men and women, questions about medical ethics, but also derogatory thinking about certain population groups touch upon many people's fundamental values - however, while these attitudes certainly play a role in the choice of a partner, certain views often do not reveal themselves at the beginning of a relationship.

Boekenhauer says that many people then suppress this in their lives together and, if the worst comes to the worst, don't want to open a can of worms and have to deal with it. A typical comment in a situation like this is: "Yes, my partner does say weird things sometimes." It usually only gets dealt with it more intensively when a separation or divorce is on the cards.

However, Nathalie Krahe advises couples not to be too hasty when it comes to separating, especially in view of the current extraordinary situation, which also prevails in many people's personal and emotional sense of worth due to existential worries or stress.

Her advice is: If couples cannot agree on certain topics at all and are getting more and more frustrated, they should agree on a kind of truce.

They can try saying to each other: "Come on, we've both said what we wanted to say, but we can't agree on anything at the moment. But I want to be with you and make things work - let's talk about it again in a few months and concentrate more on what unites us." - dpa

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family , relationships , pandemic

   

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