Kimberly Beam Holmes 0:00
I don’t know about you. But over the past two years, it seems like there are no end to the divisive and polarizing topics that are happening in the media, on social media, and, most importantly, in relationships. We are seeing people in, not just friendships, not just communities they’re a part of, but even sometimes ending marriages because they no longer agree about things that are really important to them. We’re going to be talking about how to deal with these things. How do you deal with really divisive issues when you stand on one side and your spouse stands on the other? I am joined by Dr. Joe beam,
Dr. Joe Beam 0:51
Thank you for being here. You know, Kimberly, a couple of years ago, I officiated at the funeral for a dear friend of mine. We were very close. We were worlds apart when it came to our political views. Now, most people will never hear my political views because of the business we’re in. I don’t put them out there in the public. But he and I, being dear friends for many years, would not seeing anything alike. But we loved each other dearly. I was with him a lot before he died. And then I officiated his funeral. And there’s a way to make that happen. On the other hand, another friend of mine sat on my back deck was made the other day as dusk descended. We sat there talking into the dark. We used to have very similar views when it came to religion. But now, he has changed to some different kinds of views. He mentioned some of the things that he now no longer believed that he used to believe, things that I still do believe, yet, we’re still very close friends. I know that if I called him right now and said I needed help, I know he would come and the same, I would go to him. So what I’m trying to say is, there can be a lot of differences, but you can still be close to each other. You might be thinking, yeah, but you’re talking about friends. I’m talking about my wife, or I’m talking about my husband. Well, maybe the first thing to understand here is that the other person does not have to think the way you want them to think, to believe what you want them to believe, not always do the things you think they should do. When you start talking about the key to love, you have to talk about this thing called acceptance. Acceptance means I may not endorse some of the things that you believe. I may not endorse some of the things that you do. But I can accept the fact that you believe them and still accept you as well. And that has to be in existence, not only between a husband and a wife, but parents and children if you’re going to have a long term relationship because no two people are going to agree on everything.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 2:54
Right. Isn’t that what is so concerning about what’s happening right now in culture, this whole cancel culture. If you don’t agree with me or say what I want you to say then I am going to cancel you. I’m going to like delete you out of my life. Like the the concept of it is so destructive to relationships. But it’s what’s being inbred in the younger generation right now. There are several people in my generation and older who have accepted this as okay. I’ll get on a soapbox. You have to stop me. It’s in the home that we can teach our children how to love even in the midst of disagreement. And right now, social media and media is teaching them how to hate in the midst of disagreement, and it has to be turned around.
Dr. Joe Beam 3:46
Not just between husbands and wives, but again, with parents and children. When you were coming up, when you were about five years old, I was actually speaking at a church. You won’t remember this at all. You were so young. And I said something in my sermon, and you had a friend at church with you that day that didn’t normally go to church, one of your guests. When we got home, you and your friend talked for a while and then you came in and told me I was wrong.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 4:09
Oh no. I believe that.
Dr. Joe Beam 4:12
You said you’re wrong. And I said, What do you mean I’m wrong? And your buddy, your little five year old friend had came home had come home and told you that no, this is the way it is. Your dad’s all wrong about that. And you two had this deep five year old theological discussion. Now you are there straightening me out. So how does a parent react to that? When he or she wants your child to learn to think. But at the same time, you have certain beliefs and values that you hold. And it can be a challenge to do so. But it definitely can be done. Do you remember any of the ways that we did that with you?
Kimberly Beam Holmes 4:58
Yeah. So a lot of a lot of what I remember growing up was there was conversation. You would ask me questions. Why do you think that? Tell me about the conversation. Who said it? What motives do you think they had behind it? There was just more of you asking me to gain an understanding of how I had gotten to this place in my head. I remember there would have been you explaining why we would, or you believe what you believe and why you would want the same for me. I guarantee your response was not “Your friend is wrong, go away.” Like, “Y’all don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just five years old. What I said is right.”
Dr. Joe Beam 5:45
I think that’s what I did. I’m kidding.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 5:49
There’s no way. It would have been, “Tell me, tell me why you think that.” Because you would have been asking me for my evidence. Like what’s your evidence of this? And you would have given me your evidence of this. And I was reading a quote by a professor of Organizational Psychology at Wharton Business School, his name is Adam Grant. I was reading something on his Instagram the other day where he said critical thinking includes being able to understand the evidence, and then having a conversation about that. The irony was, so many people under that refuted him and his statement was based on evidence. And he said, “The irony is you all are throwing out the evidence with what I’m saying here.” That’s part of what’s happening as well right now. People are dismissing evidence, whether that’s actual research based statistical evidence or just the evidence of how did you come to this conclusion? Let’s have a conversation.
Dr. Joe Beam 6:49
So what we’re modeling right here is the way that you deal with these polarizing conversations is that rather than canceling a person that you love because he or she is your husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, that rather than just writing them off because they don’t see it the way you do is to actually listen to each other. I’ll guarantee a couple of things are going to happen if you do. One is sometimes as you listen, you’re going to come to realize that you weren’t even talking about the same subject, that you were thinking one thing they were thinking another thing and that your disagreement actually was not a disagreement. You were talking about two different things but not able to communicate that. Other times, you will discover that sometimes you’re wrong. I know you don’t want to hear that. But surely, in your lifetime, there have been times when you’ve been listening to people, you were talking and all of a sudden it hit you. Good grief, I never thought about that. Wow, I need to think that through. The other thing that will happen if you truly listen to each other is you can maintain a relationship even if you don’t come to the same conclusion. You can have a relationship because of the fact that I can accept the fact that you and I won’t see everything alike. I know that I’m imperfect, I know that you’re imperfect. But I know that I love you no matter what.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 8:08
You know, the other part of that is even if you disagree on things, that person can become one of the people you go to, to actually get feedback from. What do you think of this? Sometimes because they have a different view than you, but you respect them, and you respect the way they treat you. Or even if they have similar beliefs and values of you, because they have treated you with respect before, you trust them more to go back to ask them, you know, what do you think of this thing that’s going on? We all need that. I wonder if a lot of people right now, because of a lack of strong relationships, they don’t have someone to go to when, you know, the abortion thing came up, right? So who do you have to bounce your ideas off of or your feelings and just unpack all of the emotions that can go around on that with it? I think when people don’t have that they just kind of turn to social media and start making statements. That can end up being divisive because other people are going to see it out of context of a relationship and then make judgments about each other when there’s no relationship there. None.
Dr. Joe Beam 9:25
I’ve actually done that to a couple of my friends said, you know, based on what you just posted on Facebook, here’s what you sounded like. You know, if I were able to give you a suggestion, it would be you need to reword that, because people aren’t going to understand what you’re trying to say. So you’re right. With relationship, you can have those conversations. Without relationship, you get frustrated or you get angry. Then the fussing and fighting starts and people start, “You can’t be my Facebook friend. I’ll never talk to you again. I’m not ever gonna go to your church anymore.” Etc. The world becomes more and more divided. In my lifetime, I have never seen a more divided nation. More divided world. More divided Christianity. Everything you can think about. More division between parents and children. Husbands and wives. It finally all boils down to, ultimately, I have to be able to accept the fact that I’m not the final decider. If I’m going to say everybody has to think, feel, act and believe like me, then you actually put your position as God. Whereas I’m not that perfect. You say, so do you have friends that live very different lifestyles to what you believe is correct? Yes, I do. You know that I have friends that based on my religion, they live very different lifestyles than I believe, different political beliefs. Yeah. And so how do we love each other anyway? That’s really what it’s all about. You don’t have to think everything I think, believe everything I believe. You don’t. Or feel everything I want you to feel. We can still be very close to each other. Love each other very deeply. Now I’ve seen you and Rob, you’re both very strong personalities.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 11:26
You could say that.
Dr. Joe Beam 11:29
Let me, let me say it again, you and Rob have very strong personalities. I’ve seen you argue, and yet you’re very close to each other. Even when you don’t see things alike, right?
Kimberly Beam Holmes 11:40
That’s absolutely right. Even when I know we’re gonna differ on opinions on certain things, we still talk about it with each other. Now, I will say over 12 years of marriage, we have gotten better at listening and understanding each other’s point of view. Back when we were younger and newly married, it would have been, “This is what I believe and it’s right, and you need to come to my side of the table.” Now we’re both much more, “Yeah, I can see it your way. But here’s why I see it my way.” But there’s trust there. There’s trust that even though I may not agree with him, I can respect his reason for believing things that way. Because when I share my beliefs and values with him, I’m sharing some of the deepest parts of who I am. I’m giving him bricks. He doesn’t throw those back at me. He doesn’t share them with other people. He takes these things and he just cherishes them. There’s been other people in my life where I’ll share what I believe about this. They say things like, “So do you not trust God?” And they just start attacking my character because of something completely unrelated. That’s where there comes anxiety or shame like, “Am I a bad person? Because I believe this one thing, but they’ve just equated it to like my morals.” That’s what’s not good. That’s what’s not healthy. What’s healthy is for someone to be able to sit with you and understand why is that important to you? Tell me more about that. Here’s an example. I’ll relate it back to what you and I were talking about. When I was in college. You may not remember this when I was in college, for a brief period of time, I was a pacifist. Do you remember this? I remember us having the conversation.
Dr. Joe Beam 13:45
We disagreed on so many different things.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 13:46
In college, that’s just the time everything happens. Now ironically, I married a soldier. So clearly that phase didn’t last verey long. But I still don’t like war. Now Rob doesn’t like war either, but he realizes it’s a necessity for protection and freedom. Whereas I am always going to err more on the side of but why can’t it be done a different way? So even when we have talks about what’s happening in Russia, or whatever, we can both agree on a common theme. No one likes war. But both of us see it in two different ways, right. But we can appreciate the differences in each other and still have the conversations around it even though the differences are there. Because we love each other and are committed to the future of our relationship.
Dr. Joe Beam 14:36
Love is always going to involve accepting things about the other person that you don’t like. “I wish it was taught differently than that. I wish you believe differently than that. Iwish you felt differently than that.” Being able to love is having that relationship anyway. Now, it doesn’t mean you won’t get frustrated with each other. Sometimes you will. Like good grief, not that again. Sometimes you get frustrated. You might even get angry at each other. That kind of thing. Knowing that I accept and love you maintains the relationship no matter what. That’s what love really is all about. So how do you talk about these topics? Be open. Be honest. Say what you really believe. But don’t attack. Don’t try to force it on the other person. A friend of mine, who was just about to get her PhD. This was several years ago. She was like, “You can teach me anything. But you’re not going to force your belief solely about anything.” I thought, that’s the way it should be. I’m willing to learn. But don’t try to tell me what to think what to feel what to believe in, etc. People react badly to that. So have the conversations, but do it as friends, not as foes.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 15:51
Be curious about why the other person has that stance. I believe when you’re curious about things like that, for those of us in America, back in the 2016 election when it was Clinton versus Trump, I had two good friends on opposite sides. I remember, they did such a good job at this because one of them was voting based on the fact that she was an executive director at a nonprofit that worked in an inner city. So her world revolved around impoverished people who could not get ahead. That is what she took into the voting booth. Then I had another friend who was on an opposite side where she loved the same people, but she was seeing it from a different perspective. But they could agree on we both love these people. But we’re going to show that differently on voting day. It was beautiful how they stayed friends. That’s how it should be. Because when you actually understood both of their stories, you could understand why they both believed the things they did. There were more commonalities than differences.
Dr. Joe Beam 17:00
Excellent. I think that’s really good story. I liked that. So that’s what you do. If you want to talk about these things. You’re better to talk about it than not talk about it. But the way you talk about it determines what happens to your relationship.
Kimberly Beam Holmes 17:13
That’s right. So if you enjoyed this episode, please give it a five star review. Share it with a friend. Share it with maybe a spouse if it’s appropriate to do so and can get you on the same page about talking about a divisive subject. That would be a huge win in our books. If there’s anything we can help you with go to marriagehelper.com to see the courses and the workshops that we have that can help you strengthen your marriages. Until next time. Thank you, Dr. Joe.
Dr. Joe Beam 17:42
Thank you for having me.