Political Residue Did the elections and politics come into play in your marriage? BY JAMES PARK
Do you battle of politics in your home?
Do you share a bed with your mortal enemy? During election season, it can seem that way for many couples. There’s nothing like politics to draw a dividing line in a marriage and it’s not unusual to find that your spouse doesn’t share the same views as you do.
This year’s elections were particularly interesting given that it was the first time in 12 years that Congress came under the complete control of the Democrats (well, technically, the Democrats and two Independents). With important issues such as the war in Iraq, stem cell research and corruption scandals coming into the limelight, the elections portrayed a wave of change that could bring up some heated discussions between couples even though the elections are in the books.
“A couple can feel differently about a given issue, say, immigration reform for example, but it won’t break up their marriage,” says Debbie Lamb from BeABetterPartner.com. “What gets in the way is the way a couple disagrees. In other words, you can have an intellectual discussion about something, but if one partner is demeaning to the other in the process, then one small disagreement could turn into something much bigger.”
Fighting over politics is unwise, says Susanne Alexander, 50. In fact, she and her husband, Craig Farnsworth, try not to tell each other how they voted in the elections. She says that since they’re both involved in local politics in their city of Euclid, Ohio, they find it easier to just check their political discussions at the door when they come home. “We don’t want politics to be a source of discord in our marriage,” Susanne says.
Susanne and Craig are also both marriage coaches and they advise couples to keep their voting private. “The unity of the marriage must be the higher priority,” Susanne says. “Talking generally about the issues is possible, but if the discussion deteriorates into critical slamming of various candidates, then there is likely to be a negative impact on the relationship.”
Lamb says that if couples are going to talk politics, they should try to keep it light. “Try to avoid a heavy atmosphere in your home during what could be very serious matters,” she says.
Ultimately, matters of the government can play a big part in marriages. Keep in mind that party lines shouldn’t cross those eternal vows. If you ever get discouraged, remember that James Carville and Mary Matalin have made it work, and so can you.