Politics: When you and your partner have different views

If you want to get your kids engaged in politics, having healthy discussions about you and your partners' different views is a good start.

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My wife and I don’t share the same opinion on many topics.

For instance, I love that electric-green coleslaw—while she thinks it should be handled by someone wearing a hazmat suit.

She believes that football on TV is the ideal backdrop for an afternoon nap, whereas I get fired up and emotional when NFL games are on.

We used to have heated arguments about the merits of Hugh Grant rom-coms from back in the day. (Thankfully, this is no longer a debate in our house, as my wife now sees how lame Notting Hill was in retrospect.)

But as a famous 20th century recording artist once said “opposites attract”—so maybe there is something to that theory. And for the most part, our differences serve as humorous anecdotes at dinner parties.

However, while many of our differences are superficial, there are some deeper divides that sometimes come to the forefront. Next week, we have a provincial election here in Ontario and it seems as though my wife and I could be voting for different parties.

We took an online questionnaire last week to see which political party best represented our views on the major issues. After answering the 25+ questions, we came out on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. One of us was a Conservative, while the other was tabbed as an NDP supporter. (Spoiler alert: My wife is a big fan of harnessing wind energy).

And that has me wondering: Can a couple have vastly different political views?

Read more: Relationships: The art of compromise>

Personally, I have no issue with my wife voting for a different political party than me. I think our core values are still the same, but we have opposing views when it comes to certain issues. And for the most part, I think this can help strike a healthy balance within a relationship. When people get married, too often they lose their individual aspects and are forced to become this lame blob that is seen as a singular entity.

Having some areas where you see things differently can help shape your perspective on things and make sure you stay open-minded and balanced.

Obviously you need to have the same stance on certain issues—like pro-life or pro-choice—because if you were faced with a surprise pregnancy in your relationship, the two of you would need to be unanimous with your decision. But there is nothing wrong if one person in the relationship thinks that governments should fund daycare and the other person believes the opposite. Or if you believe in a two-tier health care system, but your partner is opposed to it. A lot of hot-button political issues shouldn’t be deal breakers in a relationship. Instead, they should be viewed as great talking points to have a healthy discussion.

And when our kids are old enough to vote, I want them to be engaged in the process and have a strong mind of their own. I don’t want to be one of those families who raises a kid who votes Conservative just because their dad always did. I often shake my head when I hear stories of generation after generation voting for the same political party—as if it’s a genetic trait that’s handed down. I want my daughters to have a good idea of all of the political ideologies that are out there and pick the one that best suits them.

Read more: Talking politics with kids>

If you want to get your kids engaged in politics, having healthy discussions about the major issues inside your home is probably a good start. And the best way to do that is if you don’t always see eye-to-eye with your partner on some of the issues.

Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.

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