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When Spouses Wear Different Political Stripes

10/10/2015 10:08 EDT | Updated 10/10/2016 05:12 EDT
Chris Tobin via Getty Images

The federal elections are coming up in just over a week. Hopefully, every Canadian 18 and over is getting informed and is planning to vote.

I take voting very seriously and make sure to vote in every election. I'm fortunate that most of the people I'm close to share the same political views as I do.

Thinking about this made me wonder, what do you do when your spouse or romantic partner has opposing political views from you?

How would you feel if you knew that on Oct. 19, your spouse or partner would be voting for a party that you really dislike?

There's a couple in the U.S. who are famous for having opposing political views: Mary Matalin, a strategist who's worked for many years with the Republican Party, and James Carville, a long-time Democratic political consultant.

They married in 1993, and over the years, they've continued to disagree on politics, but they appear to be happily married and say that they don't talk politics at home.

I wonder if I'd be able to keep silent if my partner had such opposing political views. I think I'd tolerate a lot of other differences before I'd accept someone who voted for a party whose values I disagreed with.

I guess that it comes down to the people involved. It's clear that Matalin and Carville have made it work, but I wonder how many relationships, even marriages, have had conflicts or have broken up because the two people involved couldn't agree on politics.

As the election draws near, feelings are heating up. The rhetoric is flying. What do you think is going on in households where mom plans to vote for one party and dad plans to vote for another?

If I were to give one word of advice to a couple who finds themselves on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it would be this: Ask yourself if this difference of views is a deal-breaker for you, or if you can live with it.

Everyone has a list in their mind -- whether they realize it or not -- of the things they absolutely must have, in their relationship, and a list of the things that absolutely can't abide. And the rest, well, that's negotiable.

If being politically incompatible is on your list of deal-breakers, you may very well be romantically incompatible, as well. If, on the other hand, it's in the negotiable category, as it must be with Matalin and Carville, then you're in luck.

If you're in the former group, you may be in for some strife; if you're in the latter group, you simply need to establish some ground rules, as the Carvilles did. Perhaps, like them, choosing not to discuss politics at home would be a good idea.

The Carvilles, being in the political world, had no choice but to consider whether their ideological differences would be a problem for them, but not everyone has a chance to recognize the impact of opposing political views before they tie the knot. It might only be in election years when things become clear.

For some people, politics aren't that important, so discovering that a spouse votes differently than they do is no big deal. For other people, however, this discovery might be intolerable.

As election day draws near, people in politically divergent couples may come to realize that unfortunately, this difference is in the list of their deal-breakers.

If you aren't married, and the coming election is showing you that you and your partner are politically out of sync, you'll need to look within and discover whether this is a deal-breaker for you. If it is, it's very sad, but it's probably better to know now, rather than after you've gotten married.

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