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On Opposite Sides: What to Do When It Feels Like You’re Sleeping With the Enemy – Part Three

by | Oct 17, 2017 | Articles, Relationships | 71 comments

This week we’re continuing our exploration of what to do when you and your partner find yourselves on opposite sides of the types of issues that can be extremely divisive.  We’re not talking about the “you didn’t take out the trash again” scenarios.  Or the “can I just get settled before you talk my ear off?” situations.

Relationship advice - what to do when you're on opposite sides of the issues.Relationship-conflict-intensifies-over-divisive-issues-learn-to-overcome-individuality-2

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Here is the example I shared with a friend in real life:

Let’s say you’re not comfortable with same-sex marriage.  You’ve never been comfortable with same-sex marriage.  And your partner is in total support of same-sex marriage.  You’ve had discussions on the topic previously, so you’re both aware you’re on opposite sides of the issue.  But it’s never been a significant problem between you.

Now, with all the national attention on same-sex marriage, and the tone of the public discourse, the intensity of that difference between you has been magnified significantly.  You may find yourselves in frequent heated arguments about the topic, and nothing really alters about the discussion.  One or both of you ends up repeatedly upset, and debate has devolved into argument which has maybe gotten personal.

Relationship advice - what to do when you're on opposite sides of the issues.

Relationship advice - what to do when you're on opposite sides of the issues.

This is just one example of the focus of this series.  The topic of dispute could be any number of personal, political, or social issues.  You may have known before you committed to each other that the two of you feel differently, but the national climate has intensified matters.  Or maybe you were unaware that you felt so differently until the national debate amplified.  Or maybe one of you has had a recent life-experience that has significantly altered how you feel about the issue.  That’s just how life happens.

So here you are.  Now, what do you do about it?

In part one, we talked about disagreeing respectfully – disagreeing with the content of the argument, not the character of the person making the argument.  In part two, we talked about listening for understanding, rather than focusing on winning the argument.  In part three, we’ll explore what happens when two individuals come together in a partnership.

Relationship advice - what to do when you're on opposite sides of the issues.

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Respect Your Partner’s Right to Their Own Opinion

The other day, a woman posted in a fitness-related Facebook group that her husband didn’t want her to wear leggings to the gym because he feels she’s a representation of him.  Have you felt this way?  Or been subjected to this thinking?

Relationship advice - what to do when you're on opposite sides of the issues.

We don’t always have the requisite self-awareness to recognize it, but we can sometimes feel elevated or validated by our choice of mate.

You’ve likely heard the following advice for singles – it’s offered so frequently it’s become trite.  It’s nevertheless true that you must love yourself before you can really be successful in romantic relationship.  In this case, two halves do not make a whole.  Instead, two wholes make a successful romantic partnership.

It’s impossible to find self-worth in a relationship.  And while that might make perfect sense on the surface, we often don’t dig deeper to fully understand the implications of the advice.  It can mean that if you’re seeking validation or elevation from your mate, or from having a mate in general, you might be headed for trouble.  People grow and change, and they can’t thrive in the confines of the restrictive box your self-worth may require.  And then you find yourself in arguments over wearing leggings to the gym.

Unfortunately, this need for validation often hides itself from us, so awareness and recognition require some self-reflection.

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So, what does all this have to do with being on opposite sides of the issues?

If we think about our partner as a representation of who we are – as a representation of our judgment, as a representation of our good taste, as an indication of our status in the hierarchy of society – things get tricky (that’s a technical term).

There can be many representations we assign to our partner that we never reveal, that we never make explicit.  We have unspoken expectations, then we expect compliance.  It’s not overt, or even conscious.  It can be subtle and self-deceptive.  We might experience it as frustration, or disappointment, or even shame.  But if we dig deeper, we might discover that at least part of what we’re experiencing is a threat to our perception of ourselves.

Relationship advice - what to do when you're on opposite sides of the issues.

When it is happening, we may not understand why we’re so upset that our partner has such different values from us.  But none of us are carbon copies of each other.  If we’re together long enough, we’re bound to uncover some area of significant difference.

So, what?  Maybe you can’t stand behind all your partner’s beliefs.  But we don’t have to stand behind all their beliefs.  We only need to stand behind our partner.

My partner and I think very differently about how best to support the African-American community.  It’s a topic of deep import to each of us.  Many years ago, we had an intense, mostly unproductive discussion about it.  But what I learned from that discussion is that my approach is primarily informed by my experience and values.  His approach is primarily informed by his passion and his academic background in the topic.

I had to recognize that he knows a lot more about the topic than I do.  I don’t invalidate my own perspective, but I’ve developed a deep respect for his expertise.  He says things at times that are counter to my own values.  But I understand it, in context.  And I respect his passion, his compassion, his intelligence, his courage, his sense of purpose and direction.  I can’t pull those things apart and only appreciate aspects of them and discard other aspects.  Because they’re all interwoven together.  It’s all who he is.  And I chose him.  I love and appreciate him exactly as he is.

In the face of divisive disagreement, remember that your partner is a whole individual who chooses you every day.  Disagree with them respectfully, understand where they’re coming from, and respect their right to their own opinions and beliefs.

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Let’s Connect

Check back next week as we explore part four of this in-depth exploration of what to do when it feels like you’re sleeping with the enemy.  If you’re enjoying this series, be sure to become an Intimate Explorations VIP so that you never miss a morsel.  You’ll receive exclusive content, exclusive discounts, and five percent off at ToyLadyT’s Adult Toy Emporium.  And if you’re looking for ways to strengthen the bond and increase intimacy between you, be sure to get immediate access to Gettin’ Physical – increase your confidence and creativity in and out of the bedroom!

 

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71 Comments

  1. Scotch & Stilettos

    I think that you’d likely be aware right from the get-go if your partner had opinions on something that was, to you, very important and those opinions were the polar opposite of yours, therefore a relationship likely wouldn’t go go further than a few dates. That said, the biggest parts (aside from love) in a relationship are communication, honesty and respect. We must always respect other people’s opinions and never feel afraid to be honest and open. Great post!

    Reply
  2. Ami Rose

    I really liked this post. My fiance and I are very much the same when it comes to certain issues. I’m guilty of telling him he’s “wrong” rather than respecting his views which I should do more of!

    Ami xxx

    Reply
  3. Jennifer L

    Such an amazing topic that I dont think is addressed enough. I actually had a friend whose marriage was on the rocks because of lack of communication until they sought therapy.

    Reply
  4. The Blonde Diary

    This is a very interesting post. I think that you can’t have the same opinion as your partner about everything and it is very important to support each other’s beliefs.

    Reply
  5. suchi

    I love this part: we don’t have to stand behind all their beliefs. We only need to stand behind our partner.“ It is so true ..Its how you respect each other’s views and learn to take the relationship forward.

    Reply
  6. kalliamanika

    I believe that the different opinions are a great way to grow as a person inside a relationship and you get to see another point of view. Now, where things get tricky is when you argue, but if you respect your special person it will not be a fight!

    Reply
  7. Eloise

    this is very helpful for couples that come across this issue frequently… It’s important to let people have their own opinions otherwise it comes off as controlling which is never good in a relationship! I love your part 1 and 2 and now 3 to this! thanks!

    Reply
  8. Laura Dove

    I have really enjoyed this series, it always gets me thinking! Trust is SO important, without it I don’t see that there is any real relationship at al!

    Reply
  9. Sabrina Barbante (@SabrinaBarbante)

    Your tips are so wise! Listening to each other is always the hardest part; the most of times we just listen waiting for our speech turn to come, not to truly understand our partner’s PoV. Buy the way, I have to be true… I’m quite sure I could never share home-life-bed with someone who’s political ideas are too different than mines.

    Reply
  10. cvnxena

    You make some interesting points and I hadn’t considered how to be supportive if I didn’t believe in what he does! I love the concept of standing behind my husband, rather than his beliefs.

    Reply
  11. Jhilmil Bhansali

    Its really very difficult situation when we have opposite discussions and sometimes they do get personal. But yes, we have to respect each others opinions and understand the reason of the opinions. Great advice and relation to your example of African -American community.

    Reply
  12. wynntran5

    Gotta keep your enemies close right? lmao jk. I think in relationships we need to be confident with ourselves and our partners. Otherwise, trust issues will rise up.

    Reply
  13. Dannii

    I love this part: “So, what? Maybe you can’t stand behind all your partner’s beliefs. But we don’t have to stand behind all their beliefs. We only need to stand behind our partner.“ It is so true & completely reflective of a successful marriage with differing views

    Reply
  14. StressedMum (@stressedmum01)

    Respect each others views is very important, luckily my husband and I seem to agree on most things, but the things we don’t we do respect each others opinions. I think it is nice at times to have something to debate over, it is knowing when to stop things getting personal that is the key x

    Reply
  15. LavandaMichelle

    It is difficult to be on opposite of a divisive issue. Open and honest communication is very important. We say “9/11” when an issue it to much to deal with. Which reminds of of wedding day, the creation of our First daughter, and people that were effected. It our PEACE word.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      I love the idea of a peace word. That’s a very powerful way to hit the pause button. And what a significant one for you and yours. Thanks for sharing! 😊

      Reply
  16. Debbie Savage

    It is incredibly important to stay open and listen without judgement. My husband and I are learning this and in recent years have really made this a huge change and it has been so rewarding.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      I love hearing that, Debbie. Congratulations to you both! 😊

      Reply
  17. Ana De-Jesus

    I agree that we are all entitled to different opinions but as an LGBTQ advocate, I could not be with someone who opposes same sex marriage, because for me we should be free to love regardless of gender or sexuality. But politically speaking yes we should respect peoples beliefs.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      I totally get that, Ana. You would likely never partner with someone whose views on an issue so central to your core are so contrary to yours.

      Reply
  18. brandidcrawfordgmailcom

    This is such a great post. Constant and honest communication truly is key because we often don’t agree 100% on things.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Constant and honest. Great qualifications!

      Reply
  19. Angela Milnes

    This was very helpful. So many people don’t know how to communicate properly and it can really cause strife.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      So true, Angela. I think communication can be the biggest culprit.

      Reply
  20. Aishwarya Shenolikar

    I agree with all of these points! It’s so important to respect each other while also giving each other space.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      You’re so right! Give each other space. Be willing to let things settle. And respect. So good! 😊 Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  21. loveyoumoretoo

    This series has been so interesting. I really appreciate your advice. It’s always a great idea to respect and accept that your partner may have a totally different opinion/view.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate that.

      Reply
  22. dawnwairimu

    so true – it’s important to respect your partner’s right to their own opinion, even if it differs from your own! sometimes this is tough, but we all want our partners to respect our opinions, so we should reciprocate and respect theirs.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Right on! Sometimes feeling that mutuality is the challenge. But we’ve gotta give it to get it, right? Great point!

      Reply
  23. Morgan

    I love your point about how you only need to stand by their partners are not their beliefs. Of course it can be difficult if children are involved but this point is so true ! Xx

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Oh, Morgan! That is such an important point about the kiddos! It all gets so much more complex, and intense, when there are children. The points still hold, for sure. I think parts four and five are particularly applicable to the kid scenario. I hope you’ll check back!

      Reply
  24. Sandeep Bhallla

    I agree with you. Mutual respect is most important. Both need to be supportive enough.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks, Sandeep!

      Reply
  25. Akamatra

    These are great points. I feel that if you are with someone something brought you together didn’t it? When there is respect you can disagree but still sleep well together 😉

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Yes, ma’am. Respect is critical to successful partnership. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  26. Frank

    Interesting points, i dont sleep with a partner but definitely should respect the partner because after all he or she in the same place you are in. Great post :))

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks, Frank!

      Reply
  27. The Motivated Mom

    Lots of good points here. If you aren’t able to trust and support your partner, there’s a problem.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  28. Andrea

    I love your title first of all. It is so important to respect other point a view and realize we all wont agree on the same thing and it is okay. You do need to respect others decisions. SO important.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks, Andrea! 😊 You’re so right!!

      Reply
  29. Sandra Milena Crespo

    Great post I agree that we have to respect eachothers opinions! We are all entitled to have an opinion and cant judge each other for it. Keep them coming!

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks, Sandra! I’m excited about part four (of five). I hope you’ll stop by next week! 😊

      Reply
  30. miltongohgl

    True, at times my wife and I have opposing points of view but I can either choose to trust her word or respectfully disagree and agree to disagree. No need for things to blow up and get heated.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Such a practical approach, Milton. Good for you!

      Reply
  31. Candace

    I agree with the point about everyone being entitled to their own opinions! Everyone has their own ways of thinking and interpreting conversations and you may see the topic differently than your partner bases in different life experiences as well!

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      You’re so right, Candace. And it seems like such common sense. But add emotion and things go completely haywire! Unless you have tools in your toolkit. 😉

      Reply
  32. Sarah Bailey

    These are some interesting points, myself and my other half are complete opposites so sometimes it causes conflict but we are quite good at working it out.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      That’s what’s important, Sarah. Being able to work it out. Disagreements happen.

      Reply
  33. Deryn Macey

    Some great points and really interesting perspectives. I guess I’ve been really lucky with my partner in that we share very similar views and opinions and are very supportive of each other in all our individual endeavours. Some great take aways for better communication though! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      It makes all the difference, Deryn. Good for you. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  34. Jack

    There will lot of conflict in opinion in our family life. I feel we should have a broad mind to consider and think from the paradigm of partner too!!

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      I think you’re totally right, Jack! That’s sometimes easier said than done, but awareness is the first step! 😊

      Reply
  35. Amber

    Yes! My husband and I do have different opinions but I always respect his views and he respects mine as well. Sometimes it can get heated, but we calm down and talk things out.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Good for you, Amber! It sounds like to two of you have learned how to have level heads, even when things get a little heated.

      Reply
  36. myrabevlife

    It can be hard being on opposite ends but respecting each others opinion whether we agree or not is important. Great post

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  37. Claudia Krusch

    It can be challenging to have different views on a lot of subjects. It is how you communicate and deal with the difference in opinion that matters. This is a great post.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks, Claudia. You’re so right about the challenges. But if you focus on how you communicate, and not who’s opinion is “better”, you’ve got some hope of making it through.

      Reply
  38. Jessica Hughes

    It can be really difficult when partners radically disagree about intense subjects! It is so important to remember your advice to be respectful when disagreeing and to allow them to have their own opinions and beliefs.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Challenging but true. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!

      Reply
  39. Heather Risk Kraus

    If you can’t respect each others decisions of beliefs than what’s the point of it? You’re supposed to trust and support your partner, if you can’t than there’s nothing.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Good point, Heather. I think we sometimes sign up for that without realizing what it will actually take. Unfortunately, there’s no marriage training. You’ve got to learn on the job. 😉

      Reply
  40. theclutterboxblog

    I love that you bring up you choose him. Respect is so important and our life views change based on our experiences it’s important to remember the experiences of others. Though clashing on topics is never easy.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      So true. Long-term commitment has so many winding roads, twists and turns. If you’re in it for the long haul, it’s best to be prepared for that fact.

      Reply
  41. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I know for a fact that I am NOT sleeping with the enemy. He is on my team and cheering me on from the sidelines. I couldn’t be more lucky and thrilled that I found someone so supportive.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Congratulations, Gigi. 🙂

      Reply
  42. Robin rue

    You bring up so many good points here. Sometimes it’s hard to get along when your partner has a completely different opinion about something. Great advice.

    Reply
    • Ms. Finks

      Thanks, Robin. So true.

      Reply

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Hi there!  I’m Tanya Finks.  I help people date intentionally, build collaborative romantic partnerships, and foster fulfilling physical intimacy.  I’m happily coupled, I’m a staunch believer in vacation, and I love anything crime drama, all things Shonda Rhimes, and everything superhero.


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