A healthy marriage is a safe haven. It’s a place where partners can discuss important and often difficult topics as they make informed decisions with integrity, honesty, and confidence.

But when you and your partner disagree about something—especially something as polarizing as the COVID-19 vaccine—it can feel difficult to discuss it without regressing to unproductive and frustrating interactions that leave you both spinning your wheels.

If you and your spouse disagree about the flu vaccine, Covid vaccine or any others here are three ideas for promoting healthier discussions about them:

  1. Leading with Curiosity
  2. Exploring One Another’s Resources Together
  3. Maintaining a Respectful Tone

1. Lead with Curiosity

Seek to understand their beliefs, biases, concerns, and personal views. Be willing to accept that they could have a personal experience or piece of information that you don’t share or aren’t aware of.

How do you do this? First and foremost, by actively listening—that is, listening without interrupting and without immediately launching counter-attacks or criticisms. Ask clarifying questions only after you stop and reflect on what your partner says. Assume your primary goal is to understand your spouse rather than change their mind.

Know that it is safe to be curious. Listening to your partner with an open mind and a willingness to understand their point of view does not mean you have to agree with them. Instead, it shows a level of respect that helps them feel safe to explore the topic further and possibly become open to new perspectives or information they hadn’t considered (a potential benefit for you, as well).

Just as it is important to be curious about your partner’s views, it’s also important to be curious about your own. Be willing to reflect on how your beliefs, biases, concerns, and perspectives are influencing your thoughts and opinions.

2. Explore Each Other’s Resources (And Find New Ones Together)

This pandemic has been rife with conflicting and misleading information. As you navigate the topic of COVID-19 vaccines, it’s important to seek out reliable sources from which you can make informed decisions.

Share your resources with each other and seek out new ones together. If you’re not sure where to look, consider asking your healthcare providers, spiritual advisors, or other people you both trust and respect for guidance. This gives you common ground from which you can draw your own conclusions.


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3. Stay Respectful—Always

You and your partner don’t need to agree about everything in order to thrive. But it is important to maintain a certain level of respect when discussing things you don’t see eye-to-eye on. Disrespectful interactions are breeding grounds for contempt, something that is extremely harmful to a marriage.

Here’s how you can maintain respect during a challenging conversation about vaccines:

  • Ensure you are in a calm and open state of mind before entering the conversation
  • Watch your tone and body language
  • Stay on topic
  • Absolutely no name-calling, insults, nor attacks on or assumptions about a person’s character

If either of you are unable to continue the conversation without feeling highly emotionally reactive, take a timeout. You can always return to the discussion later—if you choose. It’s possible you and your spouse might need to decide that, at least for the time being, you’ll agree to disagree.

Do you and your spouse need help discussing a sensitive or difficult issue that is affecting your relationship? Contact us at the Marriage Restoration Project today to schedule a consultation with an experienced marriage counselor.

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