No, today doesn’t really have to do with sex in your marriage, unless your frustrations with each other about the U.S. presidential election this year — or a different election where you live — is making you avoid the marriage bed.
But I heard about a Wall Street Journal article titled “Till Death—or Donald—Do Us Part: Couples Spar Over Trump,” which chronicles marriages that have been made rocky by opposing political views. It’s not simply a matter of disagreeing with your spouse, but wondering at times who you even married that could support ______[fill in the blank].
I’m not talking specifically about Donald Trump, because I think the same thing has happened in other election years. Some marriages deal year to year with a sharp divide in political opinion, and the tension is only heightened with upcoming elections.
It surprised a friend of mine recently when she asked who I was voting for, and I told her, and then she asked who my husband was voting for. I said, “I’m not sure.” We discuss our viewpoints at length, but I’ve learned that going into the voting booth, we may not always pull the same lever.
Does it annoy me at times? Yeah, sure. I wouldn’t hold the opinion I have if I didn’t think it was right. And I like being on the same page with my husband.
But we’ve been learning how to handle our differences. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Don’t assume that one candidate or party represents everything right. The only authority who’s got everything right is God. Every other person or institution gets some things right and some things wrong. How we weight those things influences where we find ourselves politically. It doesn’t make your spouse evil to lean a different direction.
2. Ask for clarification. It’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction if your spouse says they’re pro this or anti that, but ask what they mean. You might find they don’t agree with everything the pro/anti organizations support, and it means something different from what you anticipated. In other words, it might not be as bad as you think.
2. Look for areas of agreement. Oftentimes, when my husband and I debate politics, we discover that we have the same end goal . . . just different ways of arriving there. We’ve also had the scenario where we realize we’re far more in line with each other than we realized once we clear up some misunderstandings. In truth, we agree on the majority of issues.
4. If you can’t talk politics, then don’t. If you know politics is going to erupt into a battle, be a peacemaker and walk away from the fight. There are any number of issues you can discuss in your marriage, from your favorite flavor of ice cream to the theology of sex in Scripture. You can talk about sports and hobbies, people you both know, dreams you each have, things you want to do together, your fondest memories, or the physical intimacy you want to have later that night. Or download A Year of Questions for You and Your Spouse from Generous Wife or 229 Conversation Starters! from Stupendous Marriage.
5. Be your spouse’s friend. Do you only hang out with people who pass a politics test? Must all your friends think like you to have the pleasure of your company? Afford the same kindness to your spouse that you give to others. And if you’re the type of friend who constantly argues with others about politics, you might now have the answer why your friends aren’t calling you back anymore.
6. Don’t bait your spouse. Me? I love a good argument. Not in the sense of a no-holds-barred, all-fists-swinging argument. Rather, I enjoy lively, even intense, debate. But many people don’t. I’ve learned (okay, still learning) to hold my tongue and watch my tone around those who dislike this form of discussion. Which includes my husband. If you know something will rile your spouse, why go there? Why would you want to cause your beloved such distress? Just forgo that conversation, and find a better environment to air your opinions (if they need to be aired at all).
7. Pray for our leaders. I admit we don’t do this often enough in our marriage, but 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It’s a good idea for couples to pray this prayer together, reminding you both that you want leaders who uphold the opportunity to live out our faith.
8. Remember God’s got this. God believes in free will. He gave it to us in the Garden of Eden, and we still have it. Thankfully, in my country, we also have free will in the form of voting for the candidate of our choice. But whatever happens in the voting booths or in our governments, we should remember that everything does not rest on elections. God’s sovereign purposes will prevail:
“Then Job replied to the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.’ ” – Job 42:2
“The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’ ” – Isaiah 14:24
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:11-12
Cherish your marriage. Don’t let an election douse the flame of love you have for your husband or wife. And if you’re looking for something to do while election returns are coming in to keep you from stressing, take your spouse in your arms and show how you’d elect him as your lifetime lover again and again. That’s a vote your mate can support.