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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Tidd

Are You Part of a (Politically) Mixed Couple?

I talked to a friend today and the discussion turned to politics as it sometimes does (although less and less in person - it's a scary place to be). I happened to mention that I have a few friends with spouses who have differing political views.

"How in the world did they ever get together?" she wondered.

Well. I'll tell you.

When I was a kid, my parents considered politics to be a VERY private subject. Not only did we not really talk about it at home, I don't know how much they talked about it together. They believed that they each had a right to vote the way they wanted to vote and that neither one of them should influence the other.

Even when I married my late husband in 1996, politics weren't at the forefront of my mind. (I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't vote regularly until my 30s.) In fact, I didn't even know my husband was a registered Democrat until after his death and I talked to his mother. He was a military man and a great patriot - but we rarely talked about politics.

Again, my friend asked, "How did you not know?"

Twenty years ago - or even 10 years ago - we could actually date someone without knowing their political views. The questions surrounding politics were so impersonal - like the national debt - that they didn't really affect us daily. That's why I was originally such a lax voter. I didn't see the effect on me personally.

That's not the case in 2020. To be a Democrat or a Republican highlights our personal values in a way it never has before - or at least not during my lifetime. I wouldn't even consider dating, much less marrying, someone who didn't vote the way I do these days. If I knew my significant other was voting for the other party in the 2020 election, I would have a hard time looking at them much less committing to them.

But, again, that wasn't the case before. Anyone who has dated and married someone before the last 5-10 years is suddenly waking up next to a person they feel they might not even know. Being in a relationship with someone who doesn't agree with a random trade agreement (like we dealt with in politics before) is much different from someone who looks at race, gender, equality, reproduction rights, healthcare, and countless other personal issues differently than we do.

So, to answer your question, my friend: There are multiple generations of us who, in a way, didn't know we were in a (politically) mixed marriage OR didn't really think it would matter until now. And there are future generations who are likely to not date or marry outside of their own political party because we're now learning the lesson that some of this really does matter.

It's likely that for at least a few generations, because of all of this unrest, people will (politically) marry their own kind.

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