It’s no secret we’re living in a very divisive time right now. It seems to be Democrats versus Republicans, or conservatives versus liberals. Whether it’s a family member or life partner, many of us are living with someone of an opposing viewpoint.
In recent years, Jim Ryan has gotten used to playing pool by himself, but of course, he’d rather not play alone. He says in his old age he’s really appreciated having somebody else by his side.
“I’m a widower and it’s nice to have a significant other that can help you out, and you can help them out,” Ryan said.
Two and a half years ago, he met a new partner, but it didn’t take long to find out their political opinions were very different. He says he’s been a lifelong Democrat, and she’s a Republican. In a game of pool, if he were solids, she’d be stripes.
“She said well, ‘Is that a dealbreaker since we’re opposite viewpoints?’ And I said 'Well, let me get back to you on that’ and we’ve been dating ever since,” Ryan said.
Even though their feelings for each other are mutual, Ryan’s partner did not want to be identified in this story. He says she told him there’s too much tension between parties right now. Nonetheless, they have found a way to continue loving each other regardless of their political differences.
“Politics, like religion, can be a game changer,” Couple's Counselor Ray Wynfield said.
Ray Wynfield has been a couple’s counselor for nearly four decades. He says he offers advice to couples who politically disagree.
“It’s a choice, people need to know it’s a choice. You can end a relationship over a church or religion, you can a relationship over politics – over Trump and Biden.”
However, if you want to keep the peace between you and your significant other, or another family member, Wynfield says there’s a simple solution.
“Don’t discuss it," Wynfield said. "Unless you can discuss it in a kind and respectful way where both people’s opinions and both people’s positions are respected.”
Ryan says that’s something he often practices.
“There are times where I have to bite my lip, and usually I’m the one that bites my lip,” Ryan said.
According to Wynfield, if you and a loved one are struggling to get along in the midst of election season, you can work on skills to find peace between each other.
“We need good communication skills, we need skills on how to be aware of our emotions, how to be aware of other people’s emotions,” Wynfield said.
If you really do want to discuss politics, he says you shouldn’t react to another person’s views in a hateful way.
“Even if you don’t like their candidate, even if you don’t respect their candidate, even if you think their candidate is evil, you don’t say that,” Wynfield said.
In his 70 years of life, Ryan says he’s had civil conversations with people of opposing viewpoints. He’d like to see the same happen at the Capitol and all over the country.
“I have a lot of friends that are lifelong Republicans and we get along just fine,” Ryan said.
Above all else, Wynfield says we need to focus on the good our loving relationships bring us. He says there is so much more to each of us than our political affiliation.
“What I hope people do in the next two weeks and after the election regardless of the results – that people can be kind and loving to each other and really appreciate the magic that they can have with a special friend,” Wynfield said.