How to talk to your partner about vaccines if you don't agree
- When you and your partner have differing views on a seemingly binary topic, it can feel impossible to reach a compromise.
Vaccinesare one of those topics.
- Acknowledging your underlying emotions regarding your vaccine views, being curious about your partner's views, and having conversations early and often can make the discussion less intense.
- You should also consider getting a professional involved, like a therapist or trusted doctor, who can offer an outside opinion.
Relationships are full of compromises.
But when you and your partner don't see eye-to-eye on a seemingly black-and-white issue, it can feel impossible to navigate.
Vaccines are one of those hot-button issues, and as scientists get closer to developing a coronavirus vaccine, more couples are likely to discuss how they'll proceed when one is available.
If you and your partner have different views on whether or not to get vaccinated, it's important to discuss those differences as soon as possible and to be curious about your partner's stance and why they have it, according to Kelly Scott, a couples therapist at Tribeca Therapy in New York City.
Consider the emotions tied to your particular vaccine stance
According to Scott, discussing an opposing viewpoint with your significant other, especially when it pertains to
"I think that that a lot of the time, probably more than folks would want to admit, we are coming from a place of fear or coming from a place of being scared," Scott told Insider. "And the scared-ness, that is what really intensifies the conflict and prevents us from being able to compromise, from really being able to take in the other person's position and feelings."
That's why it's important to think about how fear plays into your vaccine viewpoint before broaching the topic with your partner. Perhaps you're pro-vaccine because your fear spreading a deadly disease to others, or you're afraid to get sick or die yourself.
On the flip side, a person who is skeptical of vaccines may be fearful that vaccines are unsafe. There's no scientific evidence to support that stance, but examining underlying emotions that created that viewpoint can help partners talk from a place of curiosity and wanting to understand, rather than a place of anger or fear, Scott said.
Don't wait to have difficult conversations
Once you better understand your own motivations for your vaccine stance, it's time to discuss with your partner.
According to Scott, couples should talk about this topic, plus other major points of contention, as soon as possible in their
She said doing so lowers the stakes and makes it easier for each partner to be curious about the other's views, rather than defensive.
Having uncomfortable but necessary talks early on also allows couples to keep the conversation open. You can't expect you and your partner to agree after one talk about your differing vaccine views, so saying, 'we're pausing the conversation and we're going to talk about this a bunch more in the future' when you reach an impasse can make each sit-down less intense and more productive, Scott said.
Focus on curiosity, not winning the argument
If you start to become frustrated, upset, or angry with your partner during your conversation, Scott suggested focusing on curiosity rather than treating the conversation like a fight to win.
To do that, ask your partner why they have their particular view and their concerns about potentially changing their viewpoint, Scott said.
It's also important to remember you trust your partner.
When you're in a committed relationship with someone, "you trust them for a reason, and so keeping that reason in mind can help you stay grounded and not see the other person as a villain or, worst-case, an idiot, somebody doesn't know what they're talking about," Scott said. "So really revisiting the respect that you have for that person and and all of the positive reasons that you have chosen to be in a relationship with that person is really helpful."
Talking to a therapist or trusted doctor could help
If you find it difficult for you and your partner to be respectful and curious during one-on-one chats, or you feel like you're not moving forward, Scott suggested bringing a third party into the conversation.
"I think seeking out some sort of mediator, like a therapist, is obviously a great person for that. But I think if you have a trusted healthcare provider, if your kid already has a physician," that person could bring nuance to you and your partner's discussion, Scott said.
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