They say opposites attract for good reason, but every four years couples that sit on different ends of the political spectrum find themselves wishing they had done what their mother suggested and found a nice, likeminded Republican/Democrat to settle down with instead.
However, election season does not have to spell the end for your inter-political union if you can follow some simple, sensible guidelines.
- DON’T TRY TO CHANGE THEIR MIND
Political beliefs are often bred rather than made. I can’t tell you how many of my friends check their ballot based on how their family always voted, versus what they actually believe. As with any of your mate’s traits that you dislike, trying to change them will only make you crazy. Best to just let them bask in their ignorance.
- BE WARY OF THE “FUN” DEBATE
Some couples who differ regarding issues get a thrill over the political debate. They watch Real Time with Bill Maher or The O’Reilly Factor together to fuel a passionate dispute about the benefits of Obamacare or their outrage over runaway debt. But, in an instant, those little digs can hit a chord and the next thing you know, someone’s sleeping on the couch. Get yourself two separate iPads® and revel in your own political correctness in the privacy of your own screen.
- FIND YOUR BIRDS OF A FEATHER
If you’re passionate about your political position, you need a group of likeminded individuals that you can kibitz with. Don’t force your partner into engaging in debates or hearing your rant about the bailout. Find others who share your view, get a beer together, and tell your partner you’ll see them in the morning.
- DON’T RUB IT IN
The most injurious thing you can do to the relationship is to say, “I told you so” when your candidate wins. As much as you might want to, and as much as it is probably warranted, celebrate quietly when you’re together.
- DONATE TIME RATHER THAN MONEY
Money is already the #1 thing that couples argue about, and nothing gets under a spouse’s skin more than wasting their money—which is certainly how they will view your throwing it at the opponent’s campaign. If you have a shared bank account, invest your time to canvass, make phone calls or run spreadsheets instead. It’s still extremely valuable and can come from you – and you alone.
If all else fails, follow the advice of Republican strategist Mary Matalin who says the secrets to a strong cross-political relationship are faith, family, and good wine.
Then again, if you ask her husband James Carville, a Democratic strategist, and he would say surrender, capitulation, and retreat. Whether you fight it out, booze it up or just rollover and play dead, you may just have to agree to disagree this election season.