I'm Married To My Political Opposite

by Christine Burke
Originally Published: 
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My husband and I are one of those rare couples who agree on most things. We rarely fight over who gets the remote control, we present a united front when disciplining our kids, and we both agree that Ishtar was the worst movie ever made. We both love nights by the fire pit in the summer and agree that fall is the best season ever. We love wool socks, the smell of Sunday dinner in the crockpot, and House of Cards.

We can look at each other across a party and roll our eyes about a chatty host. We both want to retire to the beach, and we both cry-laugh if someone poops themselves in a movie. We get each other’s jokes, make each other laugh regularly, and we respect each other’s contributions to our hectic daily lives.

Ours is a marriage based on compromise, mutual respect, and a deep abiding love for dark chocolate.

Except when it comes to politics. And then all bets are off.

When I met my husband 20 years ago, my liberal self saw his conservative views as a challenge, an opportunity to bring him to the correct side of the aisle (notice I didn’t say “right”). Of course, when you first start dating someone, you tend to stay away from politics and religion and focus more on sex, but as the years went by, our differences of opinion were blatantly apparent. We differed on everything politically: wages, abortion, immigration and health care. We argued about taxes, social issues, and the death penalty. Eventually, we had to tiptoe around the elephant in the room because our political arguments never led to either of us winning and we were both starting to look like asses.

I don’t think it was a coincidence, either, that my family sat on the left side of the church and his on the right at our wedding. Talk about having to reach across the aisle.

Election season in this house is like a circus. Our children look like spectators at Wimbledon as we volley our political views across the dinner table. I yell at him about “his candidates,” and he rolls his eyes when I won’t shut up about Hillary. During the 2004 presidential election, our front lawn boldly displayed Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney signs. Our neighbors would chuckle as we would sabotage each other’s signs (“I’m sorry, honey, I guess the wind managed to blow away that Bush sign…weird”), and they would shake their heads as we loudly contradicted each other from across the room at parties. He still hasn’t forgiven me for putting a Kerry sticker on his car.

Our battles during the 2008 McCain/Obama race were epic. During the primary season, I proudly dressed our daughter in a pink Hillary shirt and texted my husband a picture of her pulling the lever as we voted for a woman. I gleefully celebrated when Obama was elected and enjoyed my “I told you so” moment on the day he was inaugurated. Winning felt good, and I was more than happy to rub his face in my liberal exuberance.

But for all of our political differences, all of our passionate arguments, I wouldn’t trade being married to a conservative for one minute. My husband is one of the smartest men I know and to argue with him on politics, you have to bring your “A” game. His conservative stance keeps me sharp and forces me to stay on top of liberal politics. There’s nothing I love more than going head to head with him and having him raise his eyebrow at me in admiration. I’m a fierce opponent, and he’s met his match with me.

And I would venture to say that arguing about politics has helped us find compromise in other areas of our marriage. As we’ve respectfully listened to each other’s opinions, we’ve found mutual compromise and admiration for the other’s knowledge. I love that our differences politically have added an interesting layer to our conversations and that we can accept each other’s differences. I love that I’m married to a man who has deeply considered his convictions, even if they don’t match my own.

We may be the Odd Couple politically, but it works for us.

This election season has been eye-opening for obvious reasons. Never has my ire for the Republican Party been at such fever pitch and my husband can barely stand to watch a debate with me these days. The arguments are hot and heavy at our dinner table and our children are getting an education from both sides of the aisle. They are learning how to make an informed opinion, and they are learning about the electoral process as my husband and I keep score on our candidates.

Recently, I asked my husband whom he was voting for, and he smirked and said, “I’m not sure yet, but not Trump.”

On that much, we agree. There’s hope for him yet…

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