My husband and I have been married for over 10 years and have a good marriage and great discussions, except when it’s about religion or politics.
He’s a Catholic and very conservative and I’m atheist and very liberal.
When I shut down or get defensive, we end up not speaking for days. I’ve spent years trying to understand his opinions and views but I’ve never felt like he is open to my way of thinking. I’m fascinated by studies of people, how we think, what our blind spots are, and how to overcome them.
How do I overcome this hurdle and learn to have healthy discussions on these topics and not always agree? Some of my favorite books in the past few years are about heuristics and behavioral economics, “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer, “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, “Nudge” by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, and “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz.
(Why all of these books are by Jewish men is a completely different question.) Anyway, after reading all of these books, I’m increasingly conscious of something called “confirmation bias”.
With confirmation bias, people seek out news sources that reinforce what they already believe.
When we find a source that contradicts what we believe, we immediately turn it off, get angry, or try to discredit the source.
Picture liberals watching Fox or conservatives watching MSNBC for an idea of what I’m suggesting.
Now, I do my best to be even-handed with my advice and leave my personal beliefs out of things.
Sometimes I fail, but I hope that you can concede, at the very least, that I attempt to present an objective model of reality.
It’s not about what I want to be true; it’s about what is true.
It’s not about “right and wrong”; it’s about “effective vs. Recently, I got into a few tiffs with readers on my Facebook page (follow me, we can argue with each other!
) One disagreement occurred when I posted a study that showed that holding out before having sex was a good idea and that having no-string-attached sex didn’t make women happier in the aggregate. A few months ago, a study came out that said that women didn’t want men picking them up for first dates.