Political Bickering

April 15 2021 | by

DEAR DR. POPCAK: The harmony within our family has been broken. I no longer seem to be able to get along with my brother and his wife. Why? Because of politics. We meet at our parents’ every weekend, but in the past few weeks the happiness of these reunions is always marred by friction. I am a staunch believer in one party (it does not matter which) whereas my brother and his wife are ardent followers of the otherparty. Now this fact, in and of itself, does not bother me, but it seems to bother them. What can I do to defuse the situation?


Thank you for reaching out. Conflicts such as these often cause us to feel like we are pitted against each other, on opposing sides of a war. Especially when it comes to politics, this opposition can be extremely difficult to work through and find a common ground. I feel it is important to remember that the definition of love means to will and work for the good of the other. You and your family love one another. Although you may have opposing views, your opinions about politics are not formed out of malice or ill intent. Ultimately, they are formed from different understandings and perspectives about how to achieve the greater good and how to work for the good of others. In conflicts such as these, it is helpful to redirect the conversation and focus on the love and commonalities that you share as a family or with you brother and his wife specifically. As Colossians 3:15 states, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” Remember the ways that you all connected prior to your conversations about politics. What activities do you enjoy participating in with one another? Take some time to intentionally refocus on these aspects of your lives and relationships. Use these topics and activities to reconnect with one another and remind yourselves that you are a team, called to be one body, to work together and to love together.

It will also be important to remember that you cannot control the actions of others. Because of this, it will be important for you to set your own boundaries around these conversations. Making statements such as, “I love you too much to allow a conversation like this to get in the way of our relationship. I will be happy to talk to you about another topic, but I will not engage in conversations that will divide us.” Be a broken record if you have to, repeating the same or a similar statement anytime your brother or his wife tries to bring up a political topic with you. That’s not to say you can’t ever discuss politics with your family if the conversation is being held respectfully and lovingly. However, if your family is not in a place where everyone can have a respectful and peaceful discussion with one another, it is okay to shelf political topics until you are all able to be more loving and respectful towards one another in your conversations. Lead by example by setting this boundary between you and your family members. This boundary will help you have closer, healthier, and more respectful relationships with your brother and sister-in-law, rather than allowing yourself or others to treat one another in a way that divides your relationship or puts you at odds with one another. Highlight your commonalities, rather than your differences, and you and your family will find peace.

Updated on April 15 2021