With election season well underway, the likelihood of politics entering the conversation is nearly unavoidable. These red and blue discussions have the potential to escalate when you are married or in a close relationship with someone whose views are the polar opposite of your own. Whether you made a pact early in your relationship to agree to disagree or your party loyalties have changed over time, it's important to navigate the choppy political waters of getting along.
Follow these steps to keep the peace during your healthy dialogue:
Make respect your first priority. There's enough eye-rolling, smirking, belittling and bickering going on among the candidates; that should never be your style. Give your significant other your undivided attention and remember your commitment to remain civil. Show them you take their opinions seriously. Never get so frustrated you allow the exchange to spiral down to name-calling or insults.
Find another topic of interest. There's a good chance your presidential campaign pillow talk will likely end in an argument, so vow to get your political fix elsewhere. Choose to lend a listening ear in place of a two-way battle. There are plenty of other subjects that deserve your energy.
Support your spouse. In a group of like-minded friends where your partner is the odd one out, you can be a hero by showing respect for their perspective, even if you don't agree. "Okay guys, Mike didn't come to the dinner party to defend his candidate. Let's move on to another matter that won't hinder the festive mood." Smile, stay calm and communicate you mean business with an assertive tone of voice.
Debate politely. Perhaps you are both news junkies who love discussing the headlines. Instead of focusing on the other party's deficiencies, be grateful you have a companion who is not burying their head in the sand. When the conversation becomes too tense, call a truce. It may be possible to "win" a debate with your spouse, but it's not worth the cost of marital harmony.
Don't try to "fix" or change their beliefs. It's not your responsibility to reprogram another person's thought process by pressuring them into adopting your sentiments. They are clearly as passionate about their viewpoints as you are about yours, so maintain an open mind and do your best to exercise restraint.
Remember you're on the same team. Don't regard your conservative or liberal mate as "the enemy." Your day-to-day happiness depends on the way you treat each other, under challenging circumstances and when things are running smoothly.
Focus on the qualities you admire about your spouse and your love will endure no matter who is elected. After all, opposites attract!
You may also find Diane's 7 Rules for Discussing Politics in the Office helpful. Visit her blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.