This morning, one of my dear friends asked me how Russell and I make it considering our stark political differences.

Here is my reply:

What an excellent question! I’ve given it tons of thought this morning and here’s what I’ve come up with….

In the beginning, when I didn’t know him well, we were long distance, and talked mostly over instant messenger, it was very difficult. Lots of hours of debating and me telling my friends that he’s a cold, heartless nut-job.

But since then, I’ve learned:

1.) He says a lot of stuff for shock value or to play devil’s advocate, so I had to learn what he actually believes.
2.) He actually has a heart – a big one – and he just plays tough Republican bastard REALLY well.
3.) We started discussing instead of debating. It made a world of difference to really understand the way he perceives the world and his line of thinking. He tends to approach things from the pragmatic and business side of things, while I approach them from emotional side of things and as if I’m creating the ideal scenario. Ultimately, the world needs some of both, so discussing the issues and working together to find the “best” solution is key.
4.) We learned eachother’s boundaries. ie, If he talks about tax policy one more time, I get to hit him. If he votes for Sarah Palin for anything, that’s grounds for divorce (that might be a little far, but you know what I mean)
5.) We defined our terms. Russell thinks that this was the biggest one because we got on the same page. So, for example, when he says “liberals” he’s talking about party elite like Pelosi, whereas, when I say “liberals” I’m talking about people like me, you, my Mom.
6.) All of this led to me actually respecting his line of thinking and positions on issues. I know that he is well-informed, intelligent and ultimately wants the best America possible. We might not agree how to achieve that – or even what the best America looks like – but I don’t think he’s a cold, heartless nut-job anymore.

What was once a roadblock in our relationship is now my favorite part. What a world of difference it makes to take the time to understand a person and their beliefs instead of making fast and partially informed judgments.

Lesson learned. Next step: apply to all interactions and relationships.

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